Feeling dispassionate about Titanic is a bit like being stranded alone on the North Atlantic. People either looooove the box-office and Oscar juggernaut (it’s actually considered in some circles to be the best film of all time) or find it a crime against the cinema (that’s actually a polite euphemism compared to the way other circles describe it).
I don’t mind watching the thing, yet I’d also be perfectly fine if it didn’t exist, so I guess that puts me somewhere in the middle. Titanic, from writer-director James Cameron, certainly is a technical achievement, especially the final 60 minutes of this three-hour-and-15-minute behemoth, which chronicle the destruction of the ocean liner after it strikes an iceberg. We learn there were a lot of ways to die other than drowning. People are shot, crushed by falling lifeboats and sent careening into giant propellers when the ship’s bow begins to sink, tilting the stern up into the air. When the upright ship cracks in half, the stern lands on hundreds of frantic swimmers with a thunderous thwack.
The love story is about as subtle as that thwack. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star as a mismatched pair – he’s a third-class artist and she’s a first-class socialite – and they’re mismatched too well. He’s frisky and boyish while she’s womanly and reserved. It’s as if she’s found a new puppy, not the ill-fated love of her life.
Nevertheless, Titanic is a generation’s Romeo and Juliet, in artistic achievement and influence. I’d argue more fervently that they’re wrong, but truthfully this isn’t a picture worth getting all that worked up about.