I have never really "loved" this movie, I mean I always appreciated that it was a good film, well crafted and well executed, but I never really wanted to watch it over and over. In total I have seen it three times, about five years apart for each time, the first and third viewings were in the theater, the most recent in 3D. I'll admit to crying when I first saw it, I mean I was a teenager at the time and not only had a major crush on young Leo but I also had(have) a deep fear of drowning, so it kind of freaked me out. Back then I said I loved the film because I had never seen anything like it, nothing so epic and emotionally powerful, but then I grew up and was forced to hear that damn song, hear those mushy lines over and over and I started to get a little annoyed with it as a pop culture phenom. Today, I saw the film again, not really because I wanted to but because I couldn't find another alternative, and I am amazed at how differently I watch the film now, fifteen years after my first viewing.
Because I knew what was coming, where the story was going, I could watch Titanic as a film, watch it for the production, for the cinematography, for the acting,the music and not get bogged down in "oh no! it is going to sink."
What I Appreciate About Titanic Now:
1. The subtlety in the first half of the film. I have said it before I know, but the films that I respect, the films that I could call brilliant, are those that give us some subtle hints, they show us something instead of scream at you "hey look over here isn't this cool" or have a giant explosion to keep you interested. Throughout the first hour of the film you get to see a kind of foreshadowing of what's to come, when the crew are searching through the wreckage with the Dunkins as they pass by specific rooms you hear very quietly screaming or music, at the time you don't really think of it, but after watching it multiple times you realize that they are hinting to us what is to come later in the story. When they pass by a piano you can hear the piano music playing, when you pass by the clock at the top of the stairs you hear the music playing which will be playing later on. Then there are the doll faces, the shoes, the furniture and jewelry which you don't remember while watching the story, but again after seeing it more than once you realize they were tying everything together with these little details. Also, it is in that first hour, really that first half hour, that you get to feel James Cameron's love and passion, it isn't for the characters or the love story, no it is for this ship and diving to the wreckage of the ship, the rest of the film is just a way for him to explore his love affair with that ship.
2. The soundtrack is one of the best of all time (perhaps excluding one song). Again, this is something you may subconsciously enjoy during the first viewing, but you really get a sense of how fantastic it is after seeing more than once. When you are in the lower decks you get the Gaelic Storm music, when you are with the upper classes you get a completely different sound, it just sets the scene. My favorite seen as a kid is still my favorite scene today, when Jack and Rose go to the party below decks and Gaelic Storm is playing, it is the most real part of the film and I couldn't stop smiling, even though I knew what was going to happen, that scene and that music just makes me happy for some reason.
3. The side characters, those actors you wouldn't pay attention to the first go, are really what make the film great after many viewings. Forget about the main characters and their story the next time you watch the film, instead, watch those characters who get names but very little story, they are not only great characters but brilliantly portrayed. My example is Tommy, by far my favorite character of the film, he is the most authentic and the one I really paid attention to this last viewing. You never get his story, but you don't need to be told what it is, you can figure it out, you can feel who he is even though he speaks so little, but he is just so real and a great example of the steerage class. In addition to the side characters, I love rewatching films like this, big blockbusters with big actors, and seeing actors who I have grown to appreciate later in life but had no clue who they were before. This movie is filled with some great actors who never really get the credit they deserve: Bernard Hill, David Warner, Victor Garber, Jonathan Hyde etc. Watch them and just enjoy what they bring to the side stories, it is just amazing to enjoy them doing what they do.
4. Kate Winslet and Rose. I never really appreciated acting as an art when I was younger, never really thought about it to be honest, but again rewatching a film like this allows you to watch a film for the acting. While watching Winslet on-screen this go around I could understand why she received so many accolades for this role, why she blew up after this movie into a movie star, she really is fantastic. Again, a lot of it goes back to subtlety, she doesn't cry loudly, she doesn't say how she is feeling, you feel it when she is shaking in fear, fear of her fiance, fear of the future she doesn't want, fear of the new Jack and how he could change her. I think a great deal of why she was so fantastic for me this time was because I saw Rose in a different light, I had never related to her as a character before, but damn Rose is a strong female character without being a bitch. Rose is willing to stand up for herself, she isn't the damsel in distress, nor is she the warrior woman who doesn't need a man, she is trapped and clawing at the walls to escape. In the beginning she is fake and I kind of hated her, but then as that posh, false exterior forced upon her by her mother starts to melt away and we get the real girl, I get to see her as just a teenager trying to live her life her way and I began to feel for her. I finally cared for Rose and Kate, finally took them in and understood where they were coming from.
My Issues with Titanic
1. The story is a bit forced and far too Romeo and Juliet, it gets in the way. Okay, so I know that in order for a film to get money, to make a profit, you need to have something beyond reality, something special to pull people in, but honestly sometimes I just want to see something real. The stories of the real life people who were on the Titanic are just as interesting, just as entertaining, as those created for the film, but we never get to see those stories on-screen when dealing with a historical event, and as a historian that just irks me. Then there is the fact that I am really really sick of Romeo and Juliet, I know it is one of the greatest love stories of all time, I know that it symbolizes so much, but we don't need everything to follow that exact structure! It all just happens a bit to fast, it is not all that realistic and pulls me out of the story to see that same story forced down my throat time and again. Sure, when I first saw the film I cried because of the tragic romance, but now it feels silly and mushy, maybe I am just too cynical and jaded now.
2. I wanted to see more about the lower decks and less about the posh types. Again, I know that high-class people are more entertaining to look at, they are prettier, get the better costumes, and often give the audience a view into a world they will never know, but they just are not real. Whenever we see the lower deck and the lower classes in this film, that is when I get the emotion, get the reality behind this story, and I actually care, so I wanted more of that.
3. CG, 3D are just not for me. Another problem with growing up and seeing more and more movies, you start to notice all the little problems you might have ignored or just not noticed when you were younger. I could see the bad CG work in this movie and it was distracting, I know it is kind of stupid to say that old CG was bag CG, because Duh! but it really is distracting. When we see the ship from afar, so that we can see the expanse of the ship, all of the people on board look like Sims characters, and it kind of made me giggle. Then there are the little continuity issues which never bugged me before but now I want to shout at the screen, like Kate Winslet's lips going from pink to blue back to perfect pink, just distracting. As far as the post-processing 3D, I didn't see the need for it, I mean it was cool for shots of the wreckage but otherwise I didn't really notice it and didn't need it.
I am sure there is much more I have to say but it isn't coming to me now, I may end up editing this at some point.
Do I love this film? No. Do I appreciate it as a well crafted, well acted and well executed film? Yes, definitely. I cannot watch this film over and over, maybe every five years or so. So this makes it difficult for me to rate, I am kind of stuck.
For now I will say 8.5/10