directed by James Cameron
(Paramount, 1997)

I write this review principally for those who have vowed to never watch Titanic. No fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, I used to be one of those people; then, on the spur of the moment, I felt compelled to buy it and watch it. I am so thankful I responded to that sudden urge because this is truly one of the most moving motion pictures I have ever seen. I immediately fell in love with every single thing about it, even the love story of Jack and Rose.

I know this film cost a fortune and took forever to make, but every cent James Cameron spent was worth it. Titanic is incredible. There were really no Jack and Rose onboard the ship on the night it went down, but their story opens our hearts to the real story of that great tragedy, the fact that hundreds and hundreds of very real people from all walks of life suffered and died in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. When we think of some of the lives that were lost or changed forever, we too often see them not as people but as myths -- the unsinkable Molly Brown, Captain Smith, the scoundrel Ismay, John Jacob Astor, the Guggenheims, the musicians on deck, etc. In this epic, we see the humanity of everyone on board, from the first-class passengers to the third-class folks below deck to the hard-working men in the pits of the ship who bravely kept the lights on for so long in the face of certain death. This motion picture reinforces the humanity of every soul lost, for that is where the real tragedy lies.

Some people don't like the love story in the film, but I found it magical. DiCaprio, as much as I hate to admit it, is an incredibly talented actor, but it is really Kate Winslet who shines the brightest in my eyes. The complexity of Rose, engaged to wealth and status but yearning for something real that cannot be bought, calls out to the humanity in all of us, and we delight in her forbidden romance with the poor and socially inferior Jack Dawson, ready to take up arms ourselves against her rogue of a fiance and his dastardly henchman. Some of the purity of this love was lost for me inside the car in the storage room, but no one can deny the power of Rose's love for Jack when she sacrifices her own survival to stay by his side. This is the kind of all-encompassing love we all seek but a rare few of us ever find.

Equally powerful is the extraordinary presentation of Titanic's final hour. One feels as if he is actually there experiencing the shudders as the iceberg rips through the great ship's hull, detecting the list of the decks as the front section begins to settle under water, watching with fascinating unbelief the water as it begins its climb from the lower to upper decks, getting a sense of the complete and utter panic that ensues once Titanic's fate becomes clear to all onboard, and watching numbly from afar as the smokestacks break off, the hull splits and the fractured ship dives beneath the waves en route to its eternal resting place. The surreal aspect of it all, with the music playing in the background while brave men say a final goodbye to their wives and children in the lifeboats and less fortunate men, women and children stop to embrace death in whatever way they can, is truly magical and tugs at the heart-strings of anyone professing to be human.

The incredible music accompanying this film is also intensely moving, whether it is reinforcing the passion of true love newly found or lamenting the tragedy of souls lost. If the love story and tragedy do not bring tears to your eyes, the extraordinary music will. I wonder how many men in particular sat through all of the closing credits in the theatre hoping their tears would dry before the lights came back on. The ending is to my eyes absolutely perfect and truly beautiful. This movie affects me greatly no matter how many times I have already watched it. I hope that some of those individuals vowing never to watch Titanic will reconsider their decision; I feel sure that many unbelievers would find themselves as captivated and completely in love with this motion picture as I am.

by Daniel Jolley
5 November 2005

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