April 19, 2012

Why I Heart the Titanic Movie

I will never forget the first time I saw the Titanic movie at age fourteen. It was the first time I felt I hadn't just seen a movie, but actually experienced it. I experienced the story of the Titanic and was completely overwhelmed emotionally.

Like many others, I left the theatre with tear stains on my cheeks. For me, the film wasn't about the love story {though I do like the love story part--cheesiness and all} but rather how I felt I had become a firsthand witness of a very tragic a piece of history.


I couldn't get over the incredible cinematic experience I had with Titanic. So what did I do? Yes...yes, I did. I saw it in the theatre multiple times--seven to be precise. However I must tell you, in my own defense, that these seven viewings occurred over a period of six months. Truly--Titanic was showing in our local theatre from December until June! {My family, and Matt, all love to tease me about how many times I went to see Titanic at the cinema. Ha. Ha. HA.} And you better believe I'm going to see it in 3D this upcoming weekend!

The singular reason I really love this movie is the accuracy. Director James Cameron did such incredibly thorough research on the RMS Titanic and all the events surrounding her sinking. Take away the fictional story of Jack and Rose, and what remains is a remarkably accurate portrayal of all aspects of the Titanic's story. From the social class differences, to the famous passengers and their scandals, to the ship's officers and the actions of the crew during the sinking--the major details of the voyage are all represented there. Yet it is the most minute of details that Cameron includes in the film that makes it truly outstanding. These details would be missed by most viewers--unless you're a Titanic history-nerd like me. I could go on and on listing these details, but I shall spare you from boredom in hopes that you'll finish reading this post.

There are a few things in the film that aren't quite accurate, but Cameron clearly stated from the beginning that he never set out to make a documentary. He well makes up for those inaccuracies by all the splendid little details he does include. One example for you: history has recorded that the actual phrase "God Himself couldn't sink this ship" was uttered by a deck hand to Mrs. Albert Caldwell {"Unsinkable": The Full Story of the RMS Titanic by Daniel Allen Butler, page 39}, and though the context was changed, Cameron included this phrase in the film.

I am well aware of all the Titanic movie critics out there, and I would never venture to say that this is one of the best films ever made. But I do think it was one of the first movies to really draw audiences, like myself, into the story of the RMS Titanic and make it uncommonly touching. One would have to have a heart of stone to watch the film and not feel for all those poor souls who perished in a terrifying watery-grave.

I'll leave you with this excerpt from one of my favorite Titanic history books {referenced above}, "Unsinkable": The Full Story of the RMS Titanic by Daniel Allen Butler:

'It has been said that "Titanic" is the third most widely recognized word in the world, following "God" and "Coca-Cola." True or not, what is undeniable is that even though more than eighty-five years have passed since she went down, the Titanic still possesses a compelling power. Rarely does a tale so completely combine the elements of tragedy, drama, morality play, and social statement. Few events sum up their times as decisively as the loss of the Titanic, and it is a rare man or woman who is left unmoved in some way, great or small, by her story.' {ix}

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