Thursday, July 5, 2012

Titanic, 1997

The menu begins to play. My speakers are not yet on so I only see Leo and Kate moving in slow motion, their hair blowing in the wind. I sigh. Let's get this over with.

Let me begin by giving you my background with this movie. It came out in 1997 when I was 10. I desperately wanted to see it because everyone desperately wanted to see it. I memorized the song by listening to it over and over - I may have even written down the words (this was before the ease of looking up lyrics on the Internet. My mom wouldn't let me see it because of its rating (and probably because of the boobs) and by the time I was 13 and was allowed to watch it, I didn't want to because I had grown out of my I-want-to-do-this-thing-because-my-friends-want-to-do-this-thing phase (at least when it came to watching Titanic). Then when I was 16 or 17 I figured I should watch it purely for the impact it had on pop culture. I put my cousin's VHS into my 12" TV/VCR combo and watched the film. I was unimpressed to say the least. It was long, predictable (not just because I knew the story of the Titanic, but that did have a lot to do with it), and often flat out ridiculous. I seriously considered stopping after the first tape (yes, tape), but I kept going. Since then I have spend the last 8 or 9 years really hating this film.

Alright. Let's get on with it. I won't give a synopsis of this since I'm assuming that if you haven't seen it, you have a fairly thorough knowledge of the film. After all, it did have a huge impact on pop culture.

First, the stuff I found humorous:

1. The opening shot on Bill Paxton. Remember when hoop earrings on men were cool? That year sucked.


3. I forgot King Theoden was in this.

4. Ah, the old "Picasso will never amount to anything" line so we know to not like Billy's character while simultaneously endearing us to Rose for being a forward thinker.

5. I literally laughed out loud when Rose took the comb out of her hair and shook her head - in slow motion. Just in case we didn't know that the scene where Jack paints her like one of his French girls was going to be a big deal.

6. PG-13 BOOBS! The scandal of 1997 in Orem, Utah

7. The best acting Leo did in the movie - you can almost see his boner through his facial expressions when Rose removes her robe.

8. In the back seat of the car, Rose tells Jack to put his hands on her (they're both fully clothed at this point). I begin to think about how boring second base would be with a corset. Also, who says that? I have a feeling James Cameron is living out some awkward fantasy here.

9. The iconic hand on the window during uncomfortable car sex. The moment Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright decided to spoof in the first episode of Spaced and the only reason I watched this movie a second time.

10. Pre sex, PG-13 boobs are fine. Post sex, they're covered up by a nondescript black cloth. Heterosexual teenage boys across America leave the theater.

11. While freezing to death, Jack talks about writing "a strongly worded letter" to the cruise liner. I think of Gob and smile.

Things I didn't like and/or found confusing:

1. Seriously, what is the point of the storyteller format? Any and all necessary exposition could have easily been done in 1912 (as we see with Rose persistently overhearing King Theoden). No annoying thirty second breaks from the actual film to go back to random exposition, no random sub-plot with the diamond (I'm sure there's some significance to Rose throwing the necklace into the ocean at the end, but I didn't pick up on it), and the movie itself would be a good 40 minutes shorter. All very good things.

2. "I'm the king of the world!" I don't know what I thought of that line when the movie first came out or when I actually saw it, but it has spawned a generation of douche baggery on boats, and for that I will forever hate that line.

3. Jack saves Rose from committing suicide when they first meet. The ship's personnel hear her screaming (as Jack is saving her) and find them in a somewhat awkward position (right after Jack saves her). However, it's only after Jack is handcuffed and about to be beaten that Rose thinks, "Hey! I should probably tell these guys he wasn't trying to rape me!" Good timing.

4. I will be the first to sing the praises of both Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. I adore everything Kate is and does and Leo is a great actor. But they were not great here. I would go so far as to say they were TERRIBLE. Seriously, horrendously bad acting. I'm willing to blame James Cameron for a lot of that because I liked them both before this movie (What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Sense and Sensibility specifically). I'm willing to give them both the benefit of the doubt and say their dialogue was written poorly and were told again and again to over-act.

5. "I always win, Jack. One way or another." Billy Zane's character says this to Jack after they put Rose on the lifeboat. Does that mean he'd rather die and make sure Jack and Rose don't end up together? Cause he did give up his spot on a life boat only moments before to find Rose. It wasn't out of love so... I don't know. I could be totally reading that wrong, because it makes no sense.

6. That was Rose dying at the end, right?

Generally, I still hate this movie. It really wouldn't be bad if you took out Rose and Jack's story. Cause really, the Titanic stuff is good enough story in and of itself (and I always find Kathy Bates to be a delight). The story is a fascinating study in class, sociology, psychology... Make a movie about the class system, about the decision to put so few lifeboats on the ship, about how the tragedy of the third class passengers sparked a societal change, about the musicians, about the captain, about the couple who really did decide to stay in their room to die together... I'd enjoy that movie because the moments focusing on the disaster and not the love story were pretty powerful to me. It made me wonder what I would do in a situation like that. Would I do all that I could to survive as long as possible, or would I decide to end my life on my own terms?

One thing I did appreciate was the end where the camera pans over the pictures of Rose having a good life. Granted, we're made to believe that she only did it because Jack told her to, but I'm willing to ignore that part because it still goes to show you that the world DOESN'T end when your boyfriend leaves and/or dies (I'm looking at you, Bella!)

Now that that's over, I need to go drown out that insufferable song.

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