Monday, February 14, 2011

Epic #6 - Titanic (1997)

I know what you're thinking. Yes, Titanic is a terrible movie. Yes, it's maudlin and the favorite movie of a large amount of preteen girls. (And yes, I did get "maudlin" from the thesaurus. It's a synonym for "schmaltzy.") Bizarrely, it's also a very good movie at the same time. It's an enigma. The romance, or the "plot," as they call it these days, sucks. It's ridiculous, and it's just silly. The actual sinking of the Titanic, however, is very, very well done. That is good film making. It almost has the opposite problem as All Quiet on the Western Front. All Quiet on the Western Front had a terrific story and terrible cinemtagrific movie stuff, for lack of a better term. Titanic has fantastic movie stuff, and a terrible story. Let us explore this.

Now, I've actually seen Titanic many times before (It's on TV a lot,) so when writing this post, I was able to focus some brain power on the actual blog itself. So far, my posts have been sort of lack-luster. They lack luster. So I thought, "Hey! Why don't I try a new format?" just exactly like that too, and then I thought: colons. Of course, I should present the movie in list form. It'd be like classic movie trading cards! Who doesn't want those? Let us proceed.

Release Year: 1997. But you knew that.

Director: James Cameron, but I bet you knew that too. His movies are okay, but make a staggering amount of money.

"Actors": Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Oscars: At eleven Oscars each, Titanic and Ben-Hur are tied for the most Oscars ever won by a single movie.

Super-Quick-Summary (The hyphens are absolutely essential): Rose, a rich girl who feels trapped, and Jack, a starving artist who feels free, fall in love on the Titanic, which predictably sinks. Dramatic irony abounds.

Any Knights? (Because, as you know, you can't question knighthood.): Not to my knowledge. Shame.

Anything Laughably Bad?: Oh yes. Most of the acting really is terrible. I feel that if my high school drama club did a production of Titanic, the quality of acting would be about the same. Beyond the awkwardly delivered lines is the awkwardly written script, which you can tell is bad because even the actual actors in the movie don't deliver it well.

Anything Tear-Jerkingly Good?: Yes. That's what's really weird about this movie: It's both very bad and very good at the same time. The little scenes there are during the sinking of the Titanic are so good. When we get away from the ridiculous romance and focus on these other people, it just this wonderful movie. That's when it's really strong. I would like to point out that Titanic is not in the list of greatest romances, but is in the list of greatest epics. I think it's clear that the American Film Institute agrees with me here. AItalics a side note, the combination of the awesomeness of Molly Brown and the awesomeness of Kathy Bates creates an incredible center of concentrated awesome. True story.

Historical Significance: Titanic is probably the most successful movie ever made. If you don't adjust of inflation, the only movie that's ever made more money than it is Avatar. It won eleven Oscars, including Best Picture. It made huge leaps in special effects, it launched Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and it was just a huge movie. It's certainly very epic.

Historical Background: The sinking of the Titanic makes a great story all by itself. The irony of the ship that was billed with much hype as "unsinkable" sinking on it's maiden voyage is incredible. It's especially ironic because of the extent it did sink. You also have the theme of nature conquering man when he thinks he's conquered her, the warning against the dangers of overconfidence, the commentary on the class system, and the commentary on corporate greed. You can't make this kind of stuff up. It is a perfect story. It's no wonder they made a movie about it.

Framing Device?: Yes indeed. A group of undersea explorers search for "The Heart of the Ocean," an off-brand Hope Diamond, in the wreck of the Titanic, and hear the story from a survivor of the disaster, an elderly Rose.

Would I Watch it Again?: Oh, probably. If someone was like "Hey Abby, want to watch Titanic?" I'd be like, "Sure, I don't have anything else to do," but I don't think I'll ever actually seek out Titanic. 'Sokay. Definitely an enigma. Remember that. If anyone ever asks you to describe Titanic, you have to say that, okay. "It's an enigma." Good.


  1. Good post. I hope you're planning to do a mix of colon posts with narrative posts, and perhaps even other styles? Don't want to favor one type of punctuation to heavily.

    I am pretty sure that I cannot leave the room if Titanic shows on the TV. It doesn't seem possible. I think James Cameron inserted some kind of mind control subliminal message into or something.

  2. Good post, however Lord of the Rings: Return of the King also won 11 Academy Awards.