We know the characters, we know the story and we know that legendary director James Cameron’s filmic talents know no bounds. In that respect it comes as no surprise that the man himself has digitally re-mastered his epic romantic disaster film ‘Titanic’ and re-released it in cinemas in 3D in homage to the real life tragedy as it approaches its centennial anniversary.
In 1997, ‘Titanic’ became the first film to earn over a billion dollars in its worldwide gross, making it the highest grossing film worldwide for twelve years running until Cameron himself surpassed this with his 2010 epic ‘Avatar’. Cameron presents us with a touching love story in ‘Titanic’ in the form of a ‘poor boy meets rich girl’ narrative. Rose DeWitt Bukater meets Jack Dawson on the first night of Titanic’s maiden voyage when the snobbery and drudgery of her upper class surroundings have driven her to contemplate the ending of her predicament by plunging into the freezing sea from the stern of Titanic. We’re immediately drawn in to their relationship and the ‘you jump, I jump’ dedication within it as Jack convinces Rose to climb back onto the ship. He proceeds to introduce her to his way of life as she confides in him about the unhappiness in hers, and somewhere along the way the pair fall deeply in love with one another. Cameron takes a fairly simple relationship and a simple chain of events (poor boy saves rich girl – poor boy falls in love with rich girl – rich girl realises the feeling is mutual – the pair have sex in a car (that isn’t theirs, I hasten to add) –Titanic strikes an iceberg and Jack later dies). Yet Cameron translates these events into a touching tale that is heart-warming to its very core – we don’t care that Jack and Rose have only known each other for a few days, we don’t care that Rose is engaged to be married and that Jack has nothing to offer her financially. We feel their love and we want them to be together because of that reason alone. The classic filmic moment that Jack makes Rose promise that she’ll survive the disaster before dying himself, is one of those heart wrenching ones in which the actors grasp their audience’s hearts and proceed to break them accordingly. I bet everyone can remember their first viewing of the film and undoubtedly the tears that formed during that particular scene. I also bet that, although they may not admit it, every girl secretly pines for that ‘you jump, I jump’ dedication in a relationship (but perhaps with a happier ending).
Cameron combines this beautiful fictional love story with an account of true events during Titanic’s maiden voyage which began on 10th April 1912 and met its grim end as the ship struck an iceberg at 23:40 on 14th April and plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean two hours and forty minutes later, claiming thousands of lives as it went. Cameron’s initial aspiration to make a film about Titanic was a result of his fascination with shipwrecks and particularly the wreck of Titanic, the bow of which remains intact over two miles under the Ocean today. I often wonder if ever Cameron realised that an idea that was initially so vague would go on to capture billions of hearts and that it would also become such a pivotal moment in cinema history. Cameron made a conscious effort to communicate levels of truth in his film and to portray accuracy to a certain degree. Although Rose and Jack are fictional characters, the majority of the cast portrayed real life passengers of the Titanic and he underwent intense research in order to present these characters accurately. Cameron also pushed himself and the filmic abilities of the time to the absolute maximum in favour of his film, and he used every single film trick in the book as well as creating some of his own in order to amplify the visual effects. There is no denying that the film is visually astounding and as a huge fan of Cameron, the film and a history buff in terms of the real-life tragedy, I knew that I had to experience the 3D version for myself. After all, this is classic film; a film that presents computer generated imaging at its very best, and now even more amplified in effect via the medium of its 3D transformation. Imagine the stunning décor of the grand staircase, the beautiful and meticulously detailed costumes, and the iconic scenes of the sinking. Imagine it all in even more intricate detail than the 2D version of the film and even more realistic. That is what you get with ‘Titanic 3D’ and it is absolutely worth three hours and forty minutes of your attention.
It seems that people have differing opinions of whether or not the film has earned its right to rescreen in cinemas as a 3D film, but my opinion is that it certainly has. As I said earlier we know the characters and we know the story, but I urge you to experience ‘Titanic 3D’ whether it is to see the amplification of the film’s visual effects for yourself or to remember the disaster in an even more vivid manner. Not only will it have you gripped from start to finish due to its intensified version of the compelling storyline and astounding effects, but it will also urge you to commemorate the 1,514 lives that were lost a hundred years ago this very month, and that is what is important after all. As the last living survivor of the disaster Millvina Dean died in 2009, there are no longer any Titanic passengers alive to account the disaster. The memory of Titanic is therefore kept alive solely through the medium of books, exhibits, memorials and films such as this very one that honour the victims of the disaster. For me, it is the ending of this film which powerfully reminds us to honour them. As the bars of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ knell Rose’s life to an end as she keeps her promise to Jack and dies as an old lady warm in her bed, she returns to her memories of Titanic as so many of the survivors most probably did when they too passed away.