So here’s a confession for you, one that I’ve told others over the last few weeks and that has been met with shocked looks, laughter and the word “really?”
I’ve never seen Titanic.
Why I Missed It The First Time
Back in 1997, when the film was bringing in oodles and oodles of money, my girlfriend at the time and I were not getting along (I believe we were coming up to the second of umpteen break-ups) and she wound up seeing the film with a few friends rather than me. Now, I wasn’t going to see it by myself, so I wound out missing out on the film on the first go around. To be honest, other than the fact that it had become an event film, I wasn’t too upset – I wasn’t a Leonardo DiCaprio fan at the time (barring his brilliant performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), and I tended to shy away from him until he started working with Martin Scorsese. In the meantime, while I did catch moments from the film on tv, including the last hour, I never actually sat through the entire James Cameron epic.
The Guiding Hand Of Fate
Over the last few weeks, it seemed as though fate was guiding me to my eventual date with Leo and Kate Winslett. Coming home a few Saturday nights ago from The Cabin In The Woods (a fantastic movie that I checked out with BBP alum Scotty G), I found the Queen watching the original Titanic film from 1953. I say down with her and watched what was left of the it. Even in black and white and sort of dated, watching the ship fall apart and the passengers perish was disturbing stuff.
Around the same time, I was reading through Story of the Titanic by Steve Noon, a new interactive book for the iPad that our friends at DK Canada suggested I take a look at. It’s a fairly cool experience, giving a real insight into the construction of the boat. There’s video footage you can click on, 3D diagrams and lots more. Considering it’s the 100th anniversary of the ships sinking, the book is timely and makes great use of the technology of the iPad.
So here I am, reading books about the Titanic and watching the last bit of one of the first films about the sinking, and with Cameron’s 1997 flick back in theatres and converted to 3D, it seemed as though it was finally time to finally see the film everybody else, their mother and their grandmother has seen multiple-times. And so it was, with my pal Scotty G beside me, I finally experienced Titanic on the big screen for the first time.
And I really, really liked it. It’s a great film.
Still A Titanic Achievement
Maybe I’m pointing out the obvious to some, but keep in mind I’d never seen the film before, and there’s been 15 years of hype surrounding it. Was it going to be as good as everyone says it is? Was I going to like it, or will my disdain for a young Leo cloud my judgement? Happily, none of that occurred. In fact, with all the great performances (including Leo’s) and the amazing effects, I’m of the mind that Titanic could very well be James Cameron’s best film. He manages to meld the love story and the majesty of the special effects brilliantly, in ways that I think his next blockbuster, Avatar, failed to really achieve. Credit has to go to Leo and Winslett, who I think have a very special chemistry in the film (one that they would once again demonstrate years later in Revolutionary Road). I also want to mention just impressed I was with Billy Zane in Titanic – he played a great bad guy, and his fate definitely came as a surprise to me. Am I the only one who thinks Zane should be a bigger star than he is today?
Of course, along with the strong acting, there’s the horrifying and thrilling destruction of the Titanic itself. The imagery has lost none of the power I’m sure it possessed back in 1997, and it’s hard to watch knowing the fate of all the people on board the ship. But destruction is meshed with poignancy and it’s impossible not to be affected by what you see.
Truthfully, it was worth the wait. I’m happy my first real experience watching Titanic was on the big screen (I didn’t discuss the 3D conversion as it wasn’t particularly noteworthy, by the way). It feels like that’s where it’s meant to be watched, and where the gravitas of the event can be most strongly felt. I’d say if you haven’t seen Titanic before, now is a perfect time to experience its grandeur. But let’s be real – I’m probably the only one on the planet who hadn’t seen it.
I’m glad I finally did.