Saturday, April 16, 2011

Screen Gem Saturdays: Titanic

Today's post is a tribute to the tragedy that occurred over 99 years ago. Even today, the public is swept up by the true story of a luxury liner that was advertised as unsinkable and a modern technological marvel yet sunk on its very first voyage. With a false sense of security for the vulnerability of his ship, Captain Smith ordered that the Titanic travel at full speed in an area of icebergs because he felt pressured to break a record of speed for his company, The White Star Line. Built with too few lifeboats, even those weren't filled to capacity because so many of the guests on board didn't believe the Titanic would sink before help ever arrived.

James Cameron’s blockbuster movie “Titanic” received almost as much press before it was released as after. Any movie with a budget that soars out of control like this particular epic is sure to garner a place in the news as being plagued by trouble and other sundry sordid details. However, once released, “Titanic” fever hit the world as the box office went out of control. I still remember sitting in the theater, watching the beautiful imagery and noticing all of the authentic details that Cameron painstakingly included in his film.

I also remember the first time I watched it at home on a smaller TV in its first video incarnation. Without the huge splendor of a large screen, I was less than thrilled at watching the movie.

The poor writing was apparent and the inadequacy of Leo D’s character stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb. For a period piece, Leo seemed like a Backstreet Boy stuck in a time warp; very out of place. I also felt that Gloria Stuart could have used a little more coaching on her part as well. Perhaps Cameron was swept up in the spectacle and forgot about the storytelling. Amazing what a big screen can do for a film.

For those of you that still have Titanic fever, you can visit a recreation of The Grand Staircase in Vegas at The Luxor Hotel:

See more Movie & TV photos at my main website.


Connie Moreno said...

For some odd reason, I've been mesmerized by the Titanic since childhood. When I got Internet access back in the mid 90's the FIRST thing I looked up was the Titanic.

The movie took me to another place and time. I sometimes missed dialong because I was studying the details in the background. Why does it have such a hold on me?

Snow White Archive said...

Dave, I too was mesmerized by the film on the big screen...the gorgeous attention to detail and the reality of the sets. However, today when talk turns to James Cameron's film, you often hear a chorus voices ready to slam it.

On another site recently, they were saying the 1958 "A Night to Remember" was much better. So I took the time to watch this black and white classic not too long ago. It actually was done quite well with an amazing number of scenes that Cameron probably borrowed heavily from. As IMDb says, it's "the Titanic disaster depicted in straightforward fashion without the addition of fictional subplots."

Yet, I have to admit I enjoyed Cameron's subplots and the interplay between Rose, Jack and Cal. "A Night to Remember" seemed a little dry in comparison. It's not the same on the small screen, but most films aren't. Cameron's Titanic still ranks pretty high on my list, but then again, what do I know...I have a blog dedicated solely to a Disney princess.

HBG2 said...

I think you're dead right about the weak script in Titanic, which I consider the most overrated movie of all time. Visual spectacle, yes. Believable characters for the time and place, no. There's also the matter of taking great liberties with the historical facts and the clumsy, jingoistic stereotyping (all British characters = bad; all Irish characters = good). Cameron is always preachy.

Daveland said...

Connie - I'm right there with you. I think it's the fact that the tragedy didn't have to many slight changes in people's actions could have prevented it from happening. Perhaps this is what draws people in. It also affected people from all walks of life.

SW: I didn't mind the fictional characters from Cameron's Titanic; I think it actually created a very nice thread to bring the entire story together. I just minded the poor writing, which shows up painfully on a small screen.

HBG2: I don't understand how you would credit the audience with knowing whether the china on the Titanic is authentic or not (and going to great lengths and cost to make sure it is accurate) but you don't credit them with enough smarts to know a bad script or stereotypical characters? What do I know...the movie made a mint of money.