Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Tribute to Great Film: Titanic (1997)

Fifteen years ago on December 19th 1997 one of the most popular/successful films opened at the box office, Titanic.  After being plagued with a problematic production, and going way over budget many were worried this would be the biggest box office flop of all time. They were wrong, and at the end the box office run this was highest grossing film of all time (without adjusted gross statistics).

When my friend Alex came over on the 20th who knew that we would be celebrating (almost exactly) the films 15th anniversary.  While we started the movie after a night of drinking and we never made it to any scenes with Kate or Leo, I finished the film the next day.

As Gloria Stuart stated Titanic was "the ship of dreams" this film was one of those experiences that transcended the actual quality of film.  People were seeing this movie three, four, or seven times.  There was something about this experience where no one cared that they knew the boat was going to sink.  The stars of the film Leonardo DiCaprio (Jack Dawson) and Kate Winslet (Rose DeWitt Bukater) and their love story was one that captured hearts time and time again.

Titanic was not the best film of the 1997, that honor belongs to L.A. Confidential, from director Curtis Hanson, but this film brings out many of the great emotional aspects of film.  Titanic had all the elements which make a film magnetic. Besides the love story between Rose and Jack, the production, visual effects, costumes, score, and a song that people would love and be annoyed with permeated popular culture.  The man behind two of the most successful films of all time was James Cameron.

Cameron has been part of my tribute to great film before this with the film Aliens.  After Aliens Cameron was responsible for directing Terminator, T-2: Judgement Day, and True Lies.  Cameron has laid his mark on film, proving his direction created some of the best film experiences in the latter part of the 20th Century (although his writing is less then desirable).  Titanic proved to be a movie that pleased audiences most because he took a real life emotional event, mixed in a love story with two compelling leads, and much like with Gone with the Wind he created a film that would have an incredible impact on the face of popular culture.

Cameron won three Oscars for the film including Best Director, Best Editing, and he won as Producer on the film.  Along with these three Oscars the film took home 11 Academy Awards total, making it won of the most honored films of all time at the Oscars.  Meanwhile after the film had this monstrous success it had an huge impact on the careers of the three main players.

This film propelled both Leo and Kate into super stardom, and made Cameron more respected by larger audiences.  People waited 12 years for Cameron's next film to be released in 2009, and Avatar exceeded expectations becoming the largest grossing film of all time (without adjusted inflation).

Leo was seen as the main draw for young girls to see the picture several times, and while he still remains a massive reason for people to go to the movies; he has also starred in some incredibly well made films.  Leo was nominated for Oscar prior to Titanic (What's Eating Gilbert Grape-Best Supporting Actor), but after his role he became Martin Scorsese's golden boy, and was nominated for two Academy Awards in the Lead Actor category, one for The Aviator, and one for Blood Diamond.

Kate was always taken more seriously, and was always considered the "true actor" of the two stars; she was in fact nominated for Best Lead Actress for the film.  Kate has been nominated for a total of six Oscars, two in the Supporting Actress category for Sense and Sensibility (1995), and Iris (2001).  Four in the Lead Actress category (Titanic was her first Lead Actress nominations), including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2005), Little Children (2007), and her only win The Reader (2009).

This film had a massive impact on the landscape of popular culture, and me.  1997 was the first year I paid attention to the Academy Awards, and was the first year I had an investment in the outcome of the winners.  At the time I had not paid attention to film, as much, but Titanic drew me in, and never let me go, unlike the way Rose let go of Jack (I still say there was enough room for him on that door).  The film was and still remains to be a cultural phenomenon.

While I did not cry the first time I saw the film, this past week I cried at the end, and my favorite scene where Rose and Jack are reunited at the end in a dream sequence, and all of the passengers applaud, this still remains one of my favorite film scenes of all time, and is proof that even the romantic elements of this film are some of the most powerful of all time.  The film proves that Camerone was "king of the world" and that our "hearts would go on" for Leo and Kate.

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