5/5 MUST must see SEE
dir-scr James Cameron
with Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, David Warner, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Danny Nucci, Jonathan Hyde, Victor Garber, Bernard Hill
release US 19.Dec.97, UK 23.Jan.97
3D reissue US 4.Apr.12, UK 6.Apr.12
97/US Fox 3h14

Never let go: DiCaprio and Winslet

zane warner paxton
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Titanic Reissued to tie in with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's ill-fated maiden voyage, it's astonishing how timeless the film looks. And as a true classic, it doesn't lose our attention for a moment.

This is also one of relatively few films that should really only be seen on the big screen, and watching it up there again, complete with a razor-sharp 3D conversion, is utterly immersive. Sure, a lot of the dialog is corny, but the screenplay is so perfectly constructed that three and a quarter hours fly by. There are several sequences that we've probably forgotten. For example, that opening section with the treasure-hunting dive team seems a lot longer, probably because it's interesting but not particularly memorable.

Meanwhile, the villains feel somewhat forced (namely Zane's self-absorbed jerk and Hyde as the pushy steamship company boss), and the repeated platitudes are rather sappy: "Make every moment count!" "Just go with it, don't think!" "Go on, never let go!"

But Cameron's ability to create a sense of scale is seriously impressive. The ship still seems massive, complete with a sprawling cast that seems to get even bigger in the tragic finale, which deals an extra punch with the 3D depth. Watching the collapse of civilisation on board is seriously harrowing in the wake of recent protests, as is that haunting, floating icy graveyard.

Original Shadows review from January 1998:

Making a film about Titanic was a risky proposition, and having a budget-swelling director like Cameron wasn't going to help. But the result is a thrilling blend of romance, human drama and action thriller, and no aspect gets the short shrift.

At the centre is a cross-class love story between young socialite Rose (Winslet) and world wanderer Jack (DiCaprio). Rose and her obscenely rich fiance (Zane) are living the high life in first class, while Jack's below decks in steerage. Yet the two meet and, in Jack, Rose sees an escape from her vile fiance and the dull life planned for her. Meanwhile, RMS Titanic sails blithely toward that iceberg.

There are a lot more characters (92 speaking roles!) and complications galore, which add layers of meaning. The script is well-crafted, and Cameron's direction adds insight, emotional punch(es) and entertainment value. In addition, over-the-top production values, seamless special effects and a cast of thousands make the film visually lush. And every performance is spot-on, especially Winslet and DiCaprio.

The film's carefully developed finale is a masterpiece - touching, telling and ultimately uplifting in an unexpected way. Of course, there are themes and issues Cameron could have explored more fully, but it seems silly to complain, since he did so much. The sequence of the ship sinking is not easily forgotten; perhaps it will help us put a more human face on tragedies we read about in history books. And newspapers.

cert 12 themes, language, violence, sexuality revisited 2.Apr.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall