April 19, 2012

Still No Lifeboats for Titanic

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When Titanic was released back in December of 1997, I was four years old. I did not see it until two or three years later, on a tiny little television set with a VHS player, tucked in a cabin surrounded by the relative solitude of Upstate New York. I remember lying stomach-down on my grandparents’ bed, surrounded by six of my cousins and my sister, upset none of them wanted to watch Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost with me. While the details of that first viewing escape me, I do recall a somewhat awkward conversation with my mother the following day about why the redheaded lady took her clothes off for the greasy-haired man.

One long night in the last intervening 12 years, I saw Titanic again, but I’m guessing that took place sometime in the early 2000s. When I watched it this weekend in 3D, several things surprised me.

The running time: this film is 195 minutes long. Three hours, 15 minutes. That is three hours, 15 minutes I could have spent catching up on my Russian homework or reading The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Instead, I spent three hours, 15 minutes being force-fed a fictional history about a true event in which 1,514 people tragically died. I had a flashback to the time I was forced to see another James Cameron film, Avatar, and how after about an hour I looked down at my watch only to have the friend I was seeing it with tell me we had another two to go.

Besides the length of Titanic, I was shocked by how unbelievably cheesy the plot was. It’s a good thing I’m an excellent eye-roller, because that was what I was doing during the majority of the movie. I wanted to die in my seat when Leonardo DiCaprio asked Kate Winslet where she wanted to go and she responded, “To the stars,” as she stared longingly into his eyes.

The other main sensation I experienced during Titanic was the feeling of being hit over the head with a club while James Cameron yelled at me, “Class discrimination! Treatment of women! The hubris of humans thinking they can conquer nature!” Not that I disagree with the points that Cameron bombarded me with, but again, my eye-rolling skills came in handy. And I know that many have brought up this point, but — Leonardo DiCaprio did not have to die! They both could have easily fit onto the door. I just don’t understand.

The whole re-release of Titanic in 3D kind of offends me. Well, 3D kind of offends me. As a lucky winner in the 20/20 vision genetic lottery, I hate the feeling of glasses resting on the bridge of my nose (especially for three hours). But I just don’t quite understand the point of Titanic in 3D. It really only makes sense during the scene when the boat hits the iceberg. So for those first two hours I had to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s greasy hair in 3D (which I don’t even really want to see in 2D) and Kathy Bates’ hats in 3D — again, not really worth it.

And if I’m not mistaken, it was James Cameron himself who made such a fuss three years ago about how wonderful he was for shooting Avatar in 3D, and how only posers shoot something in 2D and then convert it into 3D later. Now James Cameron is all like, “LOLJK. I want to build another house.” (Yes, that is my James Cameron impression.)

The Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912, so the film was re-released as a centennial celebration of the deaths of 1,514 people? I can only assume that’s why this is happening now. When most of us think back on our experience of watching Titanic, we don’t think about those 1,514 individuals. We think about Jack and Rose. Jack and Rose never existed, and I fail to see (or feel) why their story is so much more monumental than the actual dramas experienced by 3,000 people.

I remember Titanic as being a film that changed people’s lives. It was this unbelievable, larger-than-life experience that taught a generation to seize each and every moment, to run around screaming, “I’m the king of the world!” Re-watching it this weekend, I am confused. It’s just not a very good movie.

And I don’t think my apathy towards this film is related to it being a romance. I love romantic films, in general, but the problem here is that I feel no sympathy towards either Jack or Rose. They’re both just kind of annoying and whiny (and this is before they have a real reason to be). Jack is a creep. He falls in love with her (by the way she is supposed to be 17) after knowing her for a couple of hours (including a really poignant moment in which he teaches her how to spit). He also ignores her when she tells him to leave (when I took self-defense as a PE in high school, we called this “disregarding no”).

Rose also is kind of a spoiled brat. In one scene, her mother explains to her why running off with Jack is a selfish thing to do, and then she does exactly that. But, alas, they are on a boat, so there’s really no place to…

Original Author: Julia Moser