Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Billy Zane
Director: James Cameron
Rating: **** 1/2
Since “Titanic” originally released in 1997, the first question that comes to one’s mind is of reasons to ‘revisit’ the film. The second question is about a film that may have won maximum Oscars, but whether 3D is good enough reason to not buy a DVD instead?
Vivacious Jack (DiCaprio) travelling third class on Titanic falls for the beautiful but lonely Rose (Winslet). As the ship hits an iceberg, a battle for survival is waged even as the jealous, industrialist fiance Cal (Zane) bays for the blood of the two lovers.
Titanic, the film, as the ship in 1914, has become stuff of legends so it’s pointless to recount the obvious. Let’s try and see the invisible.
The most striking thing about ‘Titanic’ is the immaculate and almost painful detailing. Like Stanley Kubrick, James Cameron delights both the novice and discerning viewers with the detail in every door knob, every headgear, every marking on every china-plate and every expression on actors faces.
It is thus the mother of all disaster movies not because it is based on a real incident but because of this attention given to so much detail. That is perhaps the reason why, among many other probables, Titanic became first among the classics to gain a 3D restoration.
The already immaculate detailing is enhanced by 3D, increasing engagement and thus the viewer’s experience.
Beyond its technology though, ‘Titanic’ is literally a masterpiece of metaphors. The most obvious and overarching is that of the class segregation in society. Titanic becomes a microcosm of our planet earth and its social, structural divisions.
Even physically the ship represents a class pyramid, with the majority in the lower decks filled with the have-nots, aspirational class forming the base while the higher decks of rich, hedonist and have-all class forming the pyramid’s small but affluent, tip. Cameron scathingly points out the hypocrisy of the latter even as he celebrates the giving, caring and sacrificial spirits of the lower class.
“Titanic” is also a very feminist film. Set at a time where women were thought to be nothing better than decorative pieces, it pits two perspective: one where the woman has everything physically at the cost of her freedom and the second where she may not have any worldly riches but has love, beauty and freedom. Rose vacillates between the two perspectives, till finally going with her ‘heart’.
Thus the story of ‘Titanic’ might seem linear and juvenile, but like his later film ‘Avatar’ Cameron hides layers and layers inside its deceptively simple, sugar-coated shell. And though the acting of our lead pair may not be up there, but their chemistry and youthful and innocent exuberance carries the film through.
Oscar-winning producer of Titanic Jon Landau had told two week back when he was in India to promote the film, that James Cameron had himself supervised every one of the nearly half a million frames that had to be converted to 3D and $18 million and over a year spent in the same. The effort shows as 3D enhances the brilliant detailing, adding an extra shine to an already bright film.
In 1997 people had gone to watch ‘Titanic’ multiple times. Watch it in 3D on the large screen – on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking – and you’ll go see it another time for the magic is not only still there, but is enhanced by 3D.