Titanic, the highest-grossing film of all time, has been resurrected on the silver screen. I had not seen the film in over a decade until this weekend, when I watched it with friends. Overall I enjoyed it a lot more before I hit puberty. If you have ever paid income tax or seriously analyzed a potential mate based on more than “feelings,” this movie will confound you with its cardboard characters, nauseating dialogue and ridiculous sentimentalism.
I knew the ship sank in advance, of course, but through most of the movie I seriously thought Rose had staged the entire disaster in order to steal the diamond. A woman who pretends to be syrupy and two-dimensional to foil the men around her, then steals a priceless jewel and sinks the entire ship and all its crew to cover her tracks, would make a better movie and a superior character. Such is not the case.
To its credit, there are a couple of redeeming features to the film. First, there is a topless scene five and a half hours into this nine hour monstrosity. Since they’re presently screening it in 3D, you can see floating holographic nipples for nearly twenty seconds before involuntarily rolling your eyes at the interpolation of gooey emotional platitudes. Additionally, the special effects are laudable and Kathy Bates does a fine job acting.
Otherwise the only other positive element about the film is that it shovels more money into James Cameron’s bank account. James Cameron recently became the first human being to see the bottom of the Marianas Trench, which is an astounding feat. It took us longer to get there than to the Moon. If Cameron teams up with Richard Branson and makes a decent amount from re-screening Titanic, maybe they’ll build a colony on Mars.
Why do I hate Titanic? Let’s consider a few things:
The crone drops the diamond
At the end of the film Rose drops “The Heart of the Ocean,” a diamond the size of a baby’s fist, into the Atlantic. Because it’s cursed? Because there’s a nuclear bomb inside? No. Because plunking it overboard gives her emotional closure from an event which transpired eighty-seven years ago.
If the diamond is really worth thirty million dollars, then Rose is selfish and evil. What else could Rose have done with thirty million dollars?
- Endowed a children’s hospital
- Funded AIDS research
- Taken care of her entire family in perpetuity
- Neutered every stray cat in Manhattan
- Raced James Cameron to the bottom of the Marianas Trench
In the convoluted logic of this terrible movie, a poignant emotional experience is worth more than thirty million dollars.
Blatant pandering to the audience
Throughout the film characters drop names which they comically underestimate. (“That Picasso guy will never amount to anything,” “Is Sigmund Freud on the passenger manifest?”, etc.) Couple this with prissy Georgian wardrobes and movie watchers can feel pompous for no good reason for days.
The lovers know each other slightly longer than twelve minutes
The protagonist falls in love in, what, forty-eight hours? I have the good sense to do a credit rating on girls before I invest that much emotion into a relationship.
A friend told me that all women love Titanic and are reduced to tears when they watch it, but I have too much respect for women to agree with her. Many ladies read Kissinger and Hayek like normal people and wouldn’t toss a bizillion dollar jewel into the ocean for what any sane person would recognize as infatuation.
The dialogue is written by a fourteen-year-old girl
Watching Titanic is the cinematic equivalent of downing syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting. Cheesy lines include, “I’m just a tumbleweed blowin’ in the wind,” “I’ll never let go,” and “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” I’m pretty sure James Cameron wrote the thing by getting drunk in his bathtub with a Jane Austin novel.
How to Fix It
Adding 3D was definitely a good idea. Also, I like the bit where the ship sinks. It seems to me that the major flaw with the movie is the diabetic exchange of dialogue between Rose and Jack. When they get chased around the ship by a crazed butler and a plutocrat firing a revolver, it’s actually fairly engaging.
So basically if you cut the middle two hours out, scrapped the old lady, then reduced the film to briefly introducing the characters before jumping to the iceberg collision, it would be okay.
The scene where the musicians die playing nice classical music is sufficiently emotional. If you feel you need any more cathartic teary moments than that, you should probably consult a psychiatrist or better yet an accomplished bartender. 90% of the romance should be thrown out, unless Rose is rewritten as a vampire or android or something. Yeesh.
Rather than seeing Titanic, why not watch this excellent Newsradio spoof instead? There. I saved you three hours:
Andrew Heaton is a writer and standup comedian in New York City. If this post made you laugh or think, kindly "like" it on Facebook.