Mountain View

Titanic (1997)

194 Min.
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In a nutshell... A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

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Why It Makes My List

Watching Titanic is as heartbreaking for me now as it was when I first saw it as an eight-year-old. James Cameron’s most accomplished movie of his career masterfully brings together the essential narrative and technical components of film-making to achieve a cinematic landmark that enriched the art of movie-making.

Other Reasons To Watch

Titanic benefits from amazing performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Billy Zane as the smarmy antagonist. However, it's Cameron's audacious storytelling that steals the show, convincingly weaving a fictitious love story against the back-drop of a real-life tragedy.

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The special effects broke new ground in bringing RMS Titanic back to life in all its stately, pristine glory, which was an achievement of daunting scope and scale. The ship's final moments are as agonising to watch as they are spectacular.
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The production design and Russell Carpenter’s luscious cinematography in Titanic are as laudable as the late James Horner’s enchantingly soaring music score, which accentuates the star-crossed romance between Jack and Rose with alternately ethereal and poignant grace.
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Reason To Pass
Reason To Pass

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Some might take offense at Cameron inserting a made-up love tale into a real-life tragedy that killed 1,503 people, without so much as an acknowledgement in the credits to those who lost their lives.

Don't Watch If...

You don’t want to spend over three hours watching Leo and Kate fall in love on a ship that takes nearly an hour to sink.

  • War of the Movies

    To be honest, it took me some time to warm up to Titanic. When I was younger and first watch it in theaters, I remember falling in love with the soundtrack and sinking ship, but that was about it since I didn’t really see the point of a film being so long! But as I grew older, I decided to give it another chance and I am really glad I did. You are absolutely right about James Cameron’s fantastic storytelling. Great review!

    • TJtheMovieFreak

      Thanks! Glad to hear about how the film grew on you just as I’m glad to hear the word fantastic being used to describe the storytelling.

      It is especially unique how the narrative starts to unfold during the contemporary period–the segments that seamlessly bookends the film–with the search of a priceless diamond assumed to be on the Titanic (displayed through the incredible usage of real-life footage exhibiting the underwater research of half of the ship’s slowly decaying body) and the 100-year-old Rose, played wonderfully by Gloria Stuart (who, believe it or not, actually died at 100 years old), telling her harrowing experiences on the doomed ocean liner to the treasure hunters.

      Even more incredible is how, midway through the romantic tale of Jack & Rose, you actually forget about the diamond as Cameron cleverly shift the viewers’ concerns to the two lovers as well as the historical and aesthetic details of the Titanic’s maiden voyage.

      If the script is sappy and has some faults (it is funny when you notice the amount of times the names Jack and Rose is uttered), then at least it is thoroughly enjoyable at a three-hour length that doesn’t feel like so and is bustling with such grand creativity and emotional powers that you can’t help but to be stupefied as you immerse yourself fully into the whole experience!

  • I think most men have the same introduction to Titanic. Come for the boobs, but stay for the excellent story, incredible visuals and riveting directing. Titanic does successfully what few films have been able to since, which is give an hour and a half of a love story before getting to what the audience came to see. You would think it would be a recipe for disaster. You turn it on to see a ship go down, and you get a love story? But James Cameron does such a magnificent job at telling the story that you’re rooted in, and the destruction of the ship, what you came to see, ends up just being the icing on the cake.

  • I finally got around to re-watching this after 20 years!

    I had forgotten just how good a movie Titanic is. I think it was such a big deal at the time of its release that it was already being parodied when I went to see it in the cinema, but it really is as moving as it is spectacular. Rarely has a film so successfully made think that this is what it must have been like to be there, and what a terrifying experience it must have been.

    I agree that elements of the storytelling are very well done, carefully managing what we know from the start (the ship sinks and Rose survives) with what we wait to find out (what happens to Jack & the diamond), and finding ways to convey the technical information as part of the story. However, I note from the IMDb trivia that this was the first movie since The Sound of Music (1966) to win Best Picture at the Oscars while not even getting a nomination for Best Screenplay. This doesn’t surprise me. I winced several times at the script. The callous account of the sinking delivered to Rose near the start is completely overdone. The ‘Who is this Picasso? He’ll never come to anything’ joke is repeated minutes later with ‘Who is this Freud? Is he a passenger?’ And Billy Zane’s character was ludicrously dastardly, practically throwing women and children to their deaths by the end.

    James Cameron is a better director than writer, and had the screenplay been written by someone else I think Titanic could have been one of the best movies ever made.

    • TJtheMovieFreak

      You got it right on the mark in describing the authenticity of Cameron’s depiction of the Titanic tragedy with terrifying being an excellent choice of word (and this is coming from someone who gets unsettled by even a drawing of the ship’s sinking). The experience of watching the ordeal unfold would still have me on the edge of my seat while intensely hitting the emotional jugular through devastating moments big or small, e.g. an old couple having a final embrace on their bed with the icy seawater relentlessly rushing below them (incidentally, they turn out to be based on real-life Titanic victims Ida and Isidor Strauss).

      Now in regards to the script, there is one line of dialogue that, albeit not at all horrendous, is pretty eye-rolling in its corny wording. When Jack asked Rose how she figured out he wasn’t a thief, her response was: “I didn’t. I just realized I already knew.”

      Other than that, I had absolutely no problem with the script, which is admittedly sentimental, but in such lovely, poetic and oftentimes heartrending ways. I love those two jokes you mentioned, which were nuanced, ironic bits of light comedy that actually serves the film’s thematic purposes with the Freud joke showing how, even when living within the restrictive gender politics of her community, Rose manages to have an intellectual leg-up on those one-note supporters of male chauvinism.

      Titanic is now twenty years old and yet still remain a remarkable feat of cinema from top to bottom, from its obvious parts to its profound subtleties (note how the cinematography seamlessly emphasize the Titanic’s unharmed majesty alongside Jack and Rose’s burgeoning romance with a lush and luxurious palette before gradually transitioning into murkily-hued moodiness on the night the ship sinks and the star-crossed lovers face the rampant threats of possibly losing one another).

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Available in: United States United Kingdom Canada Ireland

Last Checked: 03/03/2017
No longer accurate? Let me know

Director James Cameron

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton, Bernard Hill, David Warner, Victor Garber, Jonathan Hyde, Suzy Amis

Genres Dramas, Romantic Dramas, Tearjerkers