Golden Oldies #3: Titanic (1997)

When you think of a film that is a Golden Oldie, I would imagine that Titanic would not be most people’s first thoughts. After all, Titanic was only released in 1997. Written and directed by James Cameron, Titanic stars Kate Winslet as Rose and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack, the lovers onboard the doomed ship Titanic. Despite all of the evidence, Titanic can be considered a Golden Oldie as it is, at 17 years old, already a classic.

Titanic tells the story of 17 year old Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) travelling to America with her mother Ruth (Frances Fisher) and fiancé Caledon ‘Cal’ Hockley (Billy Zane), a match her mother has arranged for financial reasons. Whilst onboard the Titanic, Rose meets the poor but happy artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) with whom she begins a romance. The film is told from the point-of-view of an older version of Rose (Gloria Stuart) as she is telling her story.

Titanic is the second highest grossing film of all time, only behind Avatar, also directed by James Cameron. It has grossed over $2 billion worldwide since its original release. It gained fourteen Academy Award nominations and eleven wins at the 1997 ceremony, including Best Picture and Best Director. Gloria Stuart became the oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar for her role in Titanic, aged 87.

Titanic is an extremely famous film, and contains many famous references that even the handful of people who haven’t seen it will probably recognise, such as the flying scene, the heart-shaped diamond necklace and the famous hand on the window clip.

Titanic does seem to be a very Marmite film, with people either loving or hating it. The script has been accused of being cheesy, which it is slightly guilty of, not to mention the amount of times the names ‘Rose’ and ‘Jack’ are said in the film – Rose is said 75 times, and Jack is said 84 times throughout!

The special effects used to create the (spoiler…) ship sinking are excellent, especially for 1997, as are the extensive make-up and costumes on all of the characters and background artists. Titanic also has an excellent soundtrack from the critically acclaimed composer James Horner, and the famous song My Heart Will Go On sung by Celine Dion.

If nothing else, what holds this film so well together and makes it a good film are Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, and the chemistry they have together. Considering they made Titanic early on in their careers, they are both excellent actors who really work well together on screen, and as they are still acting today, it is a testament to their acting abilities. It is interesting to think that Christian Bale was very close to getting the part of Jack Dawson, and imagining how he would have played the role. The supporting cast are also excellent in Titanic, especially Billy Zane as Rose mean-spirited fiancé Cal.

When released, Titanic was met with mostly positive reviews, which often commented on James Cameron’s ability to mix the dramatic visuals with an emotional romantic story so well, that the film takes you on a range of emotions throughout its 194 minutes running time. Despite this, there were a few articles criticising the film for being over-hyped on release.

In terms of including Titanic in the Golden Oldies series, it seems that the film has taken a journey itself (pun intended) with its success. On its release, the film was very popular with audiences. However, after being accused of being over-hyped, the popularity slowly wore down, and it became unfashionable to enjoy Titanic. With the 3D re-release of Titanic in 2012, the film has slowly but surely become more popular, and it is now okay to like the film again. It had been labelled as a future classic from its initial release, and is now defiantly known as a classic. Titanic is a film that everybody needs to see at least once, just to form your own opinion of it. But despite everything, Titanic is most likely heading to remain a classic for years to come.

Published 5th March 2014

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About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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