Probably the most popular and praised film of all time, turned out to be a
primitive and predictable costume drama with a dose of social criticism.
Everyone knows about the greatest and most famous shipping disaster of all
time. And the actual catastrophe is masterfully crafted by director James
Cameron, combining visual -and sound effects, he re-creates the frightening
atmosphere of the sinking ship in the middle of nowhere. I liked very much
the emotional and brutal contrast between the first and the third classes.
While their cabin is slowly filling up with water, a mother is telling her
children a fairytail -- "..and they lived happily ever after..". And then
the ship goes down and the few survivors are left alone under the stars and
the chilling air.
However, the actual disaster is happening almost at the end of the movie,
while the first two hours are just beautiful sets and bad dialogues.
In the present day, the RMS Titanic is explored by Brock Lovett (Bill
Paxton), a treasure seeker looking for the Coeur de la Mer diamond, lost
during the sinking.
Somewhere inside the ship, Lovett's crew discover a sketchbook of an artist
long dead. Here, in the shape of a nude young lady, is a window into the
distant age of 1912. Lovett is extremely surprised when he get's a phone
call from Rose Dawson, claiming that she is a model. She is immediately
helicoptered onto the vessel, and she gets the first glimpse of the fated
ship in 80 years. As the memories come flooding back, she once again becomes
Rose DeWitt Buketer (Kate Winslet), the fiancée of wealthy Cal Hockley
(Billy Zane) and daughter of Ruth DeWitt Bukater (Frances Fisher). On board
there are rich and poor, everyone trust in the ship's designer (Jonathan
Hyde) and her master, Captain E.J. Smith (Bernard Hill).
On board the ship, Rose, unhappy and restless meets Jack (Leonardo
DiCaprio) - a young American artist, poor, brave and attractive. A love
story slowly emerges and the two lovers must not only experience the
difference between the social classes, but also face the greatest power on
earth - death.
Cameron could as well have called his picture "The Never ending Love" or
"Love at First Sight", as he concentrates all his energy on the young
couple, and not on the disaster itself.
The plot is anything but original and the dialogues sometimes resemble a
television soap-opera. The director doesn't even try to overcome his empty
Because of its primitive and predictable plot, Titanic is totally depending
on the visuals that truly are breathtaking. Russel Carpenter's rich,
majestic and incredibly detailed cinematography is certainly award-worthy.
Everything from art direction to visual and sound effects are a top notch.
But it doesn't help much when the costumes are more convincing than the
actors who wear them. The actors are not to blame, because their characters
are more like caricatures, in other words - fake. Jack is a man with many
talents: he is a talented artist, handsome, brave, honest, strong,
funny...you name it. He doesn't have any dark side, he doesn't make any
mistakes, that for a second would make him human. Jack is perfect, but he
is - poor. On the other hand we have Cal. He is a bastard that treats Rose
as an odalisque and not as his wife-to-be. He lacks everything Jack
possesses, but he is -- rich. This childish contrast between the social
classes is one of those things that makes Titanic nothing more than a
Cameron knows precisely what we want to see. His film therefore contains
certain minimums to draw an audience - attractive actors, a "tragic love
story", beautiful visuals (including expensive special effects), a dose of
social criticism, a fascinating historical event (we love true stories) and
last, but not least - an incredible media support, which proclaimed an
average picture the "greatest film of all time".
On the outside Titanic looks perfect, but behind that sparkling curtain of
incredible visuals - is emptiness - nothing to think about. The main
weakness of this film, which ironically became its success, is simplicity.
Cameron enables our basic and if you wish - primitive emotions: love, hate,
fear and helplessness.
Everyone understands the power of love and the threat to our beautiful
couple is likewise imaginable - a sinking ship.
Titanic is a typical Hollywood production, totally and completely dependent
on visual perfection to hide its primitive plot. It's a good picture, but
absolutely not a masterpiece. It's among hundreds and thousands good films
released every year, not better or worse than the average American film.