Most of us have seen Titanic before, right? You know, the classic 90s epic that made international stars of its two young leads; the film that had us endlessly humming Celine Dion (whether we liked it or not); the blockbuster that was the highest grossing film of all time until the same director made Avatar.
Well, thanks to him, James Cameron (aka Mr 3D), we can now experience the spectacle as we’ve never experienced it before: in three glorious dimensions! But was it worth it? Yes and no. Mostly yes, thankfully. For those of you who don’t know (and I’m sure you’re the few), Titanic is a love story set aboard the ship of the same title. And if you know your history you will know that it doesn’t exactly end well for the ship and most of those aboard. Of course, this is made fairly obvious by Billy Zane’s character, early on, when he utters the now indelible line: “God himself couldn’t sink this ship” – if that isn’t a jinx, I don’t know what is.
Cameron once described pitching the film to studio executives as “Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic”. In other words, a romance wrapped up in a disaster movie – or, to the studio execs, the kind of Hollywood stuff that turns a buck. But it’s the romance angle that keeps me, along with the Leo-crazed fangirls, coming back: the incredible chemistry between pauper Jack Dawson (the floppy-haired heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio) and rich-girl Rose DeWitt Bukater (a young Kate Winslet).
Who can forget the scene where Jack takes Rose below deck to show her how the other class roll? The wild nightlife: tap dancing, arm wrestling, beer guzzling and all. Half the fun of the story is in seeing Rose come out of her shell. You can’t help but enjoy seeing Jack beat the reserve out of her. Jack’s mission, it seems, is to elicit the free spirit that Rose reluctantly suppresses. And she knows that he’s the only one to do the job. He’s the catalyst for her rebellious acts; like when she tells her mother to shut up, effectively giving the middle finger to the austerity and conservativism that she represents.
While Titanic is based on a true story, a famous tragedy, it would be a bit stupid to see the film as a history lesson. Cameron plays fast and loose with the facts. What’s more, if you go to Titanic expecting Ken Loach-style social realism, you will be sorely disappointed. You might also take offence at the vomit-coloured sunsets and the excessive use of wind machines to keep that hair going throughout. There’s no two ways about it. This is a spectacle movie, and as such it deserves to be given the proper cinematic treatment.
That means the biggest screen possible, a thumping sound system, and of course, the all-important 3D treatment. Although I wouldn’t say I’m an advocate of 3D (and I’m no technophile, either), I can say with conviction that its use here doesn’t compare to that in Avatar – possibly because it’s retrofitted; meaning, it wasn’t actually shot in 3D. But if this means those of a younger generation can see the film for the first time in the best way possible, then I’m all for it – they should enjoy it along with the 90s fangirls/boys. It makes me think of when Take That re-formed: they had their old fans, then they had a bunch of new fans: a similar crowd to that which originally flocked to Titanic, too, I’d imagine.
You might’ve heard about the context of the film’s current re-release: it’s the centenary of the ship’s demise. There are some who probably think that Cameron did it for the money, capitalising on the historical tragedy. Maybe he did. But it doesn’t change the fact that the film itself is a classic, and it’s not like he messed around with the edit. And while he didn’t exactly push the boat out (pun intended) with the 3D, and it doesn’t reveal any greater depths (pun again intended), I would always welcome Kate and Leo back onto the big screen. Who knows, maybe we’ll see them again in 4D down the line.
One thing’s for sure: I’m not holding out for the sequel, Titanic: Resurrection.
Titanic will be released in 3D, Digital 2D and IMAX in the UK on April 6th.