After all the hype, delayed release and over-budgeting, TITANIC is pure entertainment. Survivor Rose DeWitt Bukater (modeled on artist Beatrice Wood and played in modern times by Gloria Stuart and in the past by Kate Winslet) recounts the tragedy. When diver/researcher Brock Lovett and his crew search the wreckage for a famed jewel, they find a safe containing a drawing of a young nude woman wearing the jewel. They locate the woman, Rose, now 101-years-old, who tells of her adventure on the Titanic when she abandoned her fiancé for young rouge artist named Jack, who saved her life as the ship sank.
TITANIC is extremely photogenic with lavish costumes, colorful sets and great special effects. Regrettably, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are too modern for the period. While everyone can enjoy the beauty of the set and appreciate the tragedy, moral Americans may be offended at the foul language, brief upper female nudity, implied fornication, and some scary scenes. On the other hand, families protect families, a Christian church service is held and a priest recites prayers and the Bible. TITANIC is not for children, but those who are not offended by the foul language, nudity and fornication may be moved by this tragic tale
(Ro, B, C, LLL, VV, S, NN, A, D, M) Romantic worldview of luxury liner at sea & a young couple's forbidden love affair, with some Christian elements such as bravery, care for family, prayer, church scene, & scripture reading; 23 obscenities (mostly mild), 14 exclamatory profanities, & woman gives lewd gesture; moderate violence including implied drowning, threats with gun, attempted murder by shooting, man commits suicide by shooting, men fall to their deaths, implied electrocution, & man slaps woman; implied fornication; brief upper female nudity & drawings of naked woman; alcohol use; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality including lying, obsessive behavior, & gambling.
Following the hype, delayed release, over-budgeting, rumors, and special effects touch-ups, the verdict on TITANIC is that is pure entertainment, although it is not without its faults, both artistically and morally. Director James Cameron has proven again (after megahits TERMINATOR and T2) that no expense should be spared in recreating the grandeur, opulence and horrifying tragedy of the ill-fated maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic.
The story of the tragedy is told by survivor Rose DeWitt Bukater (whom director Cameron modeled on artist Beatrice Wood and who is played in modern times by Gloria Stuart and in the past by Kate Winslet). Her yarn is book-ended by the story of a diver/researcher, named Brock Lovett (played by Bill Paxton). Brock and his raunchy crew of divers (who seem like cookie-cutter characters from TWISTER) have been taking the two-and-a-half hour dives to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean to videotape and explore the remains of the ship.
On one such trip, they utilize a remote controlled robotic arm to actually go inside the ship and explore for a legendary jewel, “the heart of the ocean.” Discovering a safe, the team takes it to the surface, only to discover that the safe contains nothing more than some drawings of a nude woman wearing the jewel. The story is broadcast on TV, and later, the 101-year-old Rose calls Brock and tells him that she is the woman in the drawings. Brock helicopters her to the mother ship, and it is there that Rose tells her story of the 1912 trip.
A savvy and somewhat too modern young woman, Rose (Kate Winslet) feels like a slave of her snooty mother who has forced Rose to board the Titanic to travel first class back to America to marry the fiancé she doesn’t love. She is joined by her wealthy, arrogant fiancé, Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). Although Cal professes his love for Kate, he severely restricts her activities and makes her feel inferior. Rose despises Cal. Also boarding the ship is Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a vagabond American artist who has won a steerage class ticket during a card game. The ship leaves port, and the distinctions between first and steerage class are well defined.
The two heroes do not meet until the first night, where Rose, overcome with dread, hangs off the bow considering suicide. Jack, however, rescues her, and he is thanked by Cal through an invitation to join their party in first class for dinner. The unsinkable Molly Brown (Kathy Bates) offers Jack a tuxedo, and he now rubs shoulders with the world’s elite.
Rose is immediately smitten with Jack’s devil-may-care attitude, just as he is smitten with her beauty and grace. After dinner, the two run off to explore the ship. Rose is caught by her mother, rebuked and forbidden from seeing Jack again. Jack, however, doesn’t take no for an answer and finds her the next day to tell her of his love. (Meanwhile, the ship speeds along with crew and passengers alike, impressed.)
That evening, Rose allows Jack to draw her in the nude, and he places the drawing in the safe. Rose, likewise, places a note in the safe telling Cal that she is leaving him. Jack and Rose find a car in the cargo hold, where they fornicate just before the Titanic hits an iceberg in the north Atlantic.
The remainder of the movie demonstrates the best of Cameron’s abilities, heart-pounding action. The movie takes a moment for all to realize their fate and then mayhem breaks loose. Women and children are loaded on lifeboats, men in the lowest deck are overtaken by the water, the stern begins to sink, and the band plays on.
Meanwhile, Jack handcuffed by Cal in the hold, faces rising waters. Rose comes to his rescue, and together they make their way to the deck. There, Cal again finds her and forces her into a lifeboat. When it falls past the a lower deck, she jumps off and searches for Jack. The bow begins to rise, and the ship begins to split in two. After the ship sinks, Rose and Jack bob in the icy waters, awaiting rescue. Back in modern times, Rose concludes her story, wanders out to the edge of the ship, reaches into her pocket and pulls out “the heart of the ocean.”
TITANIC is extremely photogenic with lavish costumes, detailed colorful sets, a very believable ship, and great special effects. The sinking scene will become the standard for all future shipwreck scenes. Cameron does a nice effect of fading in and out of images of the actual sunken TITANIC with images of replications. Essentially, he produces a “you-are-there” feeling. Although not an expert in filming matters of the heart, Cameron creates the tension and risk of a frowned upon love affair between privileged Rose and rogue Jack. Regrettably, DiCaprio’s and Winslet’s performances are not perfect because DiCaprio has modern mannerisms and speech, and one time, Winslet breaks character by flipping Cal “the bird.” Billy Zane more perfectly portrays as the slimy Cal, and Kathy Bates provides some comic relief as Molly Brown, though her character is poorly written. The modern characters such as Brock Lovett do not have the depth nor compassion as the period actors. His crew members are the worst, using many obscenities and not acting at all like educated scientists.
While everyone can enjoy the beauty of the set and appreciate the tragedy of the wreck, moral Americans may be offended at the use of foul language, by the modern day crew members and some of the TITANIC travelers. Likewise, they may loose appreciation for Rose and her class struggle, when she shamelessly poses nude for Jack after knowing him for only a few days. Furthermore, the two lovers consummate their love in the back of a car in the cargo hold, though their fornication is off screen. The weak at heart may also find some of the deaths disturbing as men fall against the TITANIC as it rises perpendicular to the ocean. Also, there are images of frozen corpses bobbing in the icy waters.
There are several moral qualities to cheer for this movie. Families protect families. A church service where hymns are sung is held on the boat prior to striking the iceberg. As the ship sinks, a Catholic priests comforts the frightened by reciting the 23rd Psalm and offering prayers. God is recognized in this movie, but only after men have built a modern day Tower of Babel in celebration of mankind’s own genius. Like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, the creation comes back to haunt the arrogant creator. Pride does come before a fall, and in this case, the TITANIC falls to the bottom of the ocean.
The elder Rose tells Brock that Jack “saved her in every way a person can be saved.” She doesn’t know that Jack cannot save her soul, perhaps indicating a leftover sense of pride that man can save himself.
An enormous amount of money is riding on this film. The $200 million plus budget is being shared by both Paramount and 20th Century Fox. James Cameron is putting himself and his career on the line with this movie. Perhaps, even if U.S. box office returns don’t exceed traditional 2 1/2 times the budget needed to make a profit, foreign sales may make up for it. (Remarkably, even the mediocre WATERWORLD recovered its losses overseas.)
TITANIC is titanic in scale, ambition and entertainment. However, it is not for children, and some adults may be put off by the modern trappings which Cameron has added to this tragic tale.
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