I saw Titanic three times at the cinema when it came out in 1997. It was the most dumbfounding spectacle my little 13 year-old self had ever seen. The effects, the story, the reality, the detail, the music – everything was on a scale the likes of which I’d never seen.
Mum bought it on video. I watched it and watched it. The script – which is, of course, utterly dreadful – embedded itself in my psyche. I would cry hoarsely ‘Come back!’ at relevant moments. I would say softly to myself ‘A diamond – a very rare diamond’ when putting on any piece of jewelry.
And the film is now part of the world. The younger generation don’t know life before Titanic. It’s in our subconscious: lines like ‘I’m King of the world!’ and the incessant
ing, have become their own cliches. It’s a cheesy love film. It is THE cheesy love film.
Is that all it has become?
I saw Titanic 3D on Wednesday. I spent the entire film like this:
Okay, the 3D didn’t make that much difference, but that’s irrelevant. It is still the most spectacular film I have ever seen.
And this time round I found myself actually caring about Jack and Rose – I didn’t really give a tinker’s cuss the first time, I was so distracted by the visionary wonder of it all – because they do have a heard time of it, don’t they? For a first date it’s pretty shit.
But there’s no escaping the fact that the years have categorised Titanic as a cheesy love film. The scenes that are most intense and meaningful – the ‘I’ll never let go’, the half-dodgy half-erotic ‘Put your hands on me Jack’ – have become so well known and parodied that they’ve lost their original grace and novelty. There were definite sniggers in the cinema on Wednesday during these parts, and I wonder whether these were people recognising a well-parodied scene, or virgin Titanicers chortling at such unabashed displays of love.
Maybe 14 years on, people are more cynical. It’s uncool for such unashamed love scenes. There was definitely less sniffling in the audience in 2012 than I remember in 1998, when there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Maybe now we’re embarrassed by it: it’s too over-the-top, too schmaltzy. If this is the case, it makes me sad. Okay, ignore the terrible script, the forced one-liners, the occasional dodgy acting, the fact that Cathy Bates looks like she’s cringing with every line she utters – and just let it be what it is: an epic, shameless, disastrous love story.
And whatever you think of the love story, you can’t fault the majesty of the film. The whole spectacle of it is astounding. For those moaning about it being 3 hours long, it has to be, in order to beckon you inside, sit you down at a first class table, then yank you down into the dark, groaning belly of the ship and make you think you’re going to die.
It’s still the most amazing film I’ve ever seen. Watch it for the effects, watch it for the tireless efforts of Kate and Leo, watch it for the love story, watch it to be emotionally drained, watch it for the fact that the horror is real, and that the pain and disaster of it is the closest you’d ever want to get to what actually happened. Whatever the reason, just watch it. There’s nothing else like it.