Urban Cinefile
"I can't believe how lucky I am to have done that. Gillian [Armstrong] is such an amazing film maker, and Ralph is incredible"  -Cate Blanchett on Oscar & Lucinda
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday, October 18, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

TITANIC

SYNOPSIS:
Epic, action-packed romance set against the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. As robotic diving vessels search the sunken Titanic, they discover a drawing in a vault that shows a young woman, naked, wearing a huge diamond, which is the object of the salvage. An old woman watching the news recognises the drawing . . . Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is a young upper class American, soon to be officially engaged to the equally upper class Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). Rose is travelling in the sumptuous luxury of Titanicís upper decks with her insular, narrow minded mother Ruth (Frances Fisher). Not long out of Southampton, Rose has a crisis of the spirit, seeing her life closeted, cloistered, devoid of real meaning, in the grip of a dull and superficial society. She is saved from a desperate act by a free-spirited young steerage passenger, Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is immediately drawn to this attractive and troubled young woman. The central story of the film, Rose and Jackís forbidden love, begins a powerful mystery that echoes across the years into the present. But on that April day in 1912, the Titanic is doomed, and the young lovers are caught in the terrifying panic that slowly grips the desperate passengers and crew as the icy waters of the North Atlantic swirl across the decks. And the giant jewel is still mysteriously missing.

"You will walk out of Titanic not talking about its blown-out budget or its lengthy running time, but of its enormous emotive power, as big as the engines of the ship itself, as determined as its giant propellers to gouge into your heart, and as lasting as the love story that propels it. You may think of it at first as a good old disaster movie, but there is no terrorist threatening with bombs, nor a natural disaster to wreak havoc. The baddie here is our own arrogance, shortsightedness and frailty. James Cameron has written a warm and turbulent romance that is flung into the calm but icy seas of the North Atlantic. Our pre-existing knowledge that Titanic sank creates a special context from the opening shots (and what shots they are!), a knowledge that plays an important part in the film. And Cameron has accurately calculated that factor into his film: he has constructed Titanic masterfully. It is dramatically well balanced so that our anticipations are held in check with surprises and an engaging story, while he fastidiously builds up the environment. This is how the film delivers its punch; we donít just SEE the setting and the people, we can feel the environment, we can feel how the various passengers feel, we can feel the whole damn drama and the poetic, lyrical love story. This is emotive cinema, a film that carries you (unless you are a die hard cynic with a heart thatís switched off) and involves you. It showers you with detail and shows you awesomely realistic tragedy. I have to take issue with Richard Corliss (below) who is too dismissive when he says: "On this vast canvas, the problems of these three little people really don't amount to a hill of beans." I think thatís exactly the point, Dick. However big the canvas or the tragedy, it always comes down to the little human beings, the tiny figures that tumble and slide down the deck of a giant, upended ship, that shriek with horror, pain and panic to make us FEEL the enormity of the tragedy. McCarthy (below) need not worry about too many Americans Ė thatís how it was on that voyage (according to our Titanic buff). He does make a good point, though, talking about the stock characterisations of the upper deck crowd, even if this is a tad like rearranging the deckchairs Ö. in the overall effect it has on the enjoyment of the movie. Heís also right about the extraordinary Gloria Stuart, who burns into our memory. The spectacular recreation of RMS Titanic and the successful coupling of all the human elements that make up his story Ė eternal love, class, honour, greed, tragedy, nostalgia - are overwhelmingly captured in cinematic terms, with fabulous performances (DiCaprio is outstanding in an outstanding cast) and from cinematography to design and music, to give audiences a satisfying and never to be forgotten experience. Donít hesitate to buy a ticket on the Titanic this time. It wonít let you down."
Andrew L. Urban

"As majestic as a crashing ocean wave, Titanic is an overwhelming cinematic experience which stuns, moves and entertains. James Cameronís passionate obsession is brought to the screen in epic proportions with great style, combining artistic and imaginative direction with a vision which incorporates drama, passion, tragedy - with a love story that lingers poetically as a perfect rose, plucked in its prime. Propelled by a stimulating and esoteric soundtrack, we are privy to enter the extraordinary world of the Titanic, in all her luxury and splendour, meticulous in detail. Exposing the social convention of the time, the sedate and refined elegance of the upper class heavily contrasts with the fun-loving, spontaneous pulse of those in steerage, while the wheels of industry rotate in the shipís bowels. Performances are tops, with DiCaprio bewitching as the poetic, romantic adventurer, and Winslet developing effectively from bored socialite to passionate free spirit. Billy Zane is potent as the obsessed control freak, to whom a wife is a compliant adornment. From bow to stern, there is much to amaze, while the romantics will drool over the loversí first kiss - on the shipís bow - magically captured by a dramatic camera manoevre that raises the hairs on the back of the neck. Extravagant, exhilarating, devastating, poetic, romantic and totally unforgettable, Titanic is an extraordinary achievement in film making, where technology astounds, yet the human story shines even brighter."
Louise Keller

"Despite a few minor flaws, this is a superior and dazzling piece of cinematic entertainment, an epic marvel to behold, yet Cameron, who is as skilful a writer as he is a film maker, doesn't lose sight of the fact that he needs a narrative arc to carry the film to an audience. In creating this tragic love story, he has developed such wonderfully vivid characters through whose passionate eyes his tale meticulously unfolds. While it is, at its heart, a disaster movie, (and the film's last hour is breathtaking) Cameron has also fashioned a piece about the hypocrisies of Edwardian society, and of the immorality of the British class system which was fundamentally responsible for the scope of the disaster that befell the Titanic. Cameron is clearly the dominant force behind the film's visual power. His attention to detail is staggering, from the costumes of both sectors of society, to the whole interior design of the ship, including the engine room, meticulously recreated - aside from a few historical lapses to do with guns firing in all directions (resulting in two deaths which never happened). The film is striking to the eye and DiCaprio and Winslet are both terrific, though Winslet shines, giving a haunting, eloquent performance as a young woman who fights free of the shackles of class to a more unconstrained relationship with the free-spirited Jack. Kathy Bates is in her element as the fiery Molly Brown, and watch out for 80-year old Gloria Stuart as the old Rose, seen in the contemporary episodes of the film. James Horner's music is a haunting addition, aided by some sharp cinematography, taut editing and extraordinary special effects. The ship, Titanic, symbolised the glory of a past era, an elegance and style that was perhaps unique. The movie, Titanic, is also a symbol of a time when the movies swept you away in another world and kept you there, transfixed.

Cameron's film is reminder of what the cinema is capable of and proof that without individuals such as Cameron, we rarely see this kind of film. Perhaps, money aside, Titanic will reinforce the notion that an exemplary marriage of superb writing and masterful cinematic artistry is more than a real possibility in today's Hollywood."
Paul Fischer

Email this article


"Enormous emotive power, as big as the engines of the ship itself, as determined as its giant propellers to gouge into your heart, and as lasting as the love story that propels it."


"The baddie here is our own arrogance, shortsightedness and frailty."


"A warm and turbulent romance that is flung into the calm but icy seas of the North Atlantic."


"Successful coupling of all the human elements that make up his story Ė eternal love, class, honour, greed, tragedy, nostalgia - are overwhelmingly captured in cinematic terms, with fabulous performances"


See Peter Ford's interview with director
JAMES CAMERON

Facts, errors and omissions by our Titanic 'Buff', Pat Conlan, in
FEATURES

TITANIC (M)
(US)

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Bill Paxton

DIRECTOR: James Cameron

PRODUCER: Rae Sanchini, Jon Landau, James Cameron

SCRIPT: James Cameron

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Russell Carpenter

(TITANIC DEEP DIVE CAMERA: James Cameron)

EDITOR: Conrad Buff, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris

MUSIC: James Horner

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Peter Lamont

COSTUMES: Deborah L. Scott

SPECIAL EFFECTS: Thomas L. Fisher

RUNNING TIME: 194 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 18, 1997

Video Release: Jan 25, 1999

Video Distributor: CIC

RRP: $24.95







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017