I decided to order the Blu-Ray on a whim and see what I made of James Cameron’s Titanic all these years later, since first watching it with my mother back in 2009. Subsequently, my immediate response after rewatching is it’s still a hell of an experience. There must be more to it than just saying “it’s still a hell of an experience”, though?
The answer is “without a doubt, yes!”. I think by now we all know the plot, being a sweeping romance between Leonardo DiCaprio’s character (Jack Dawson) and Kate Winslet’s (Rose DeWitt Bukater), framed against and compared to the real-life Titanic tragedy. What feels different to me now is although it feels sort of easy to mock the movie at this point, regardless I have to say it succeeds so much on a primal, archetypal level.
Yes, it must be said characters can feel simply written by Mr Cameron at times (especially Billy Zane as Rose’s fiance, Cal, however intentional!! He’s a villain to the point he might not be out of place in a pantomime, although he gets at least one or two human moments!!), and spectacle surely hits the foreground when Titanic hits the iceberg. But all this is part of the point. Whether or not you think the overall approach marginalises the tragedy, I think it personalises it in a heightened way.
That’s especially because if you don’t root for Leo & Kate throughout, the film fails. And boy do you (at least I did), plus once the iceberg collision happens, you get even more swept up than you already did. Various characters even intertwine and leave some visceral impact in their own rights. So no, I think the plot chosen to frame this historical tragedy for this movie worked quite well. Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s surely worth a re-viewing because of how immersive the experience still is!