Titanic (1996)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

   

As the small craft sinks through the watery darkness, the lights illuminate a bow crusted with barnacles. Then it travels along the expanse of twisted steel that once made up the sleek lines of the most luxurious ocean liner ever to set sail. This is the beginning of Titanic, the film that won over critics worldwide and became the largest box-office success of all time. It's the tragic story of ill-fated lovers separated by class and distinction, of revenge, of tragedy, a ploy of emotions and disaster that will have you in tears as the ship finally breaks and the sea is filled with a swarm of screaming passengers.

  

The lights come from the small craft of treasure hunters searching for a long-lost blue diamond. Instead what they find is a waterlogged sketch dating to April 14th, 1912... the day Titanic saw its last stretch of daylight. The girl stretched nude on the divan is wearing the Heart of the Ocean. The find is televised and an old woman comes forth claiming to be the girl in the picture. Rose can remember the details of the greatest shipwreck in history as if it were yesterday. Through her eyes we enter the world of splendor and pretense.

 

An aristocratic young woman whose father has just died and left both her and his wife destitute, Rose (Kate Winslet) has unhappily accepted the proposal of wealthy American tycoon Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). After a successful tour of Europe they are returning to New York on Titanic, the greatest ship in the world. Aspiring artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) wins a steerage passage with a lucky hand of poker on the day of the sailing. Barely making the ship, he rapidly is befriended by fellow passengers... but is the most interested in a beautiful redhead in First Class. Their fates are entwined, but as the ship sails toward its doom, they learn there is more to fear than icy water.

 

This film has gorgeous costuming, breathtaking scenery, and incredible underwater photography, but isn't without faults. The storyline is clich├ęd and classes are stereotyped. Rich white males are all boorish, overbearing, dishonest, selfish, and greedy. Steerage passengers are understanding, kind, unbiased, and selfless. The hero is an artist who draws nude women, the heroine a selfish brat. Even so the romantic leads are empathetic and the conclusion quite moving. Certain historical figures are painted in a good light (such as Thomas Andrews and Molly Brown) while others (the officers) aren't likable at all.

 

Titanic is an artistic masterpiece, excellently filmed, gorgeously costumed, and brilliantly crafted. James Cameron is in his element even though the film suffers from a script not as polished as it might have been.

 

  

Sexual Content:

Innuendo; dialogue infers a woman is sexually active with a man she isn't married to; many glimpses of topless women in drawings; Rose poses nude for Jack (we see her bare breasts several times for a few seconds each time); they kiss in the back of a car, and are shown steamy and breathless after.

  

Language:

Lots of profanities; half a dozen GD's, minor abuses of deity, sh*t, and one f-word.

  

Violence:

Hundreds fall to their death, are crushed by the funnels, and slide down the decks to a brutal end. We see a lifeboat find its way through a sea of frozen corpses. A man shoots someone and then kills himself.

 

Other:

Rose flips her middle finger at someone. Several scenes include rapidly flashing lights.