The amount of money that Titanic made at the box office is still surprising to me to this day; I know why it made so much (teeny bopper appeal), but at the time I was such a huge fan of Star Wars that seeing a film about a boat that sinks into the Atlantic dethrone the greatest sci-fi epic of all time…well, it disappointed me. I never saw Titanic in theaters (I was too young and the long description of why the film was rated PG-13 didn’t sit well with my parents), but once it hit VHS I eventually watched it. Obviously at that point I was still too young to care too much about whatever love plight Rose was going through, all I cared was the groundbreaking CGI that brought this long since sunken ship back to the surface.
By now, reviewing this film is almost a wasted effort. Anyone who was old enough to talk in 1997 heard of Titanic and the eleven Oscars it took home with it. Years after initially seeing it I realized the film was quite overrated, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t anything to like about it; for its time, it was groundbreaking and showed that a film that required hundreds of millions to make could make its money back tenfold. Also at the time in the film were relatively unknowns; there was no real big-name celebrities, but DiCaprio and Winslet certainly had lucrative careers after this film arrived in theaters.
Perhaps the biggest surprise that the film still retains to this day is how well it flows. Despite being near four hours in length, I realized while watching it I didn’t feel like it was that long; in fact, when it came time to switch discs (yes the films split across discs), I was rather surprised the time had gone by so fast. The film has a remarkably well done pace, setting up our characters in the first hour, playing with them for another and finally allowing the boat to take full focus for the last hour and a half. The interspersed clips of real-life footage of the Titanic on the bottom of the ocean also brought realness to the movie that we hadn’t seen previously. The recreation of the Titanic in the film was breathtaking and the sinking sequence, to this day, is an impressive sight.
Of course the main issue anyone has with the film is that a love story was shoehorned into a story about a sinking boat. However, without these characters as our focus, the end of the movie really would have just been a boat sinking; sure, it’s historically correct that the boat just sank, but putting faces and getting to know some of these characters, fictional or not, to the disaster makes it all that much more emotional. I won’t deny I got a bit wet-eyed towards the end of the film (which I readily mocked as a kid—I can remember watching the ending when I was younger and letting out a Nelson-like “Ha-Ha!” as Jack descended into the frozen water…more side-effects of my Star Wars fan hood).
There are moments in the film that make you roll your eyes, mainly at the dialogue. Such gems as “Rose! How did you find out I didn’t do it?” “I didn’t. I just realized I already knew.” really don’t come off too well, no matter who is delivering the lines. There is also solid amount of humor interspersed throughout, often stemming solely from DiCaprio’s character, who is really our vessel into this world of rich and pompous people on a luxury boat.
Ten years later, recommending Titanic seems redundant, but in the end it’s still a fine film that has aged remarkably well. While I don’t think it was worth the entire box office hubbub or eleven Oscars, Titanic is, without a doubt, one of the largest films produced in the last decade. Recommended.
For its tenth anniversary, Paramount has chosen to release a new two-disc edition of Titanic, despite having released a three-disc edition only a year prior. Unfortunately for those expecting something different, what we get in this two-disc edition is exactly same as the three-disc, only, of course, missing one of the discs.
Arriving in a two-disc amaray case with a cardboard slipcover, Titanic’s 10th Anniversary Edition certainly doesn’t jump off the shelf like the SE from last year. The packaging is a lot less fantastic looking, even using an image of Jack and Rose from the film against the Titanic that makes for one strange looking cover, if you stare too long at it. No inserts are included inside and only the discs complete with the usual plain grey Paramount disc art, are inside. Everything else about this release is a direct clone of the three-disc edition. Menu art is the same, disc layout, layer transitions and even the place where the discs split the film in two is identical.
The video and audio on this film is clean and clear throughout. Of particular interest on this set is the DTS 6.1 audio track, which, while sometimes making the dialogue difficult to hear, does a superb job at providing the room with enough bass to rattle window panes. When the ship is sinking near the end and the boat continually moans, every moan is amplified by a deep rumble from the subwoofer; unfortunately the surrounds aren’t ever really fully utilized in the way I would have liked. I would’ve thought that the moment when Rose resurfaces after the Titanic sinks and everyone around her is yelling would’ve been a great time to use the surrounds, but everything’s kept to the front channels. Rather disappointing.
Moving onto the extras we get three commentaries, one from director James Cameron, one from Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, Lewis Abernathy, Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini and a third historical commentary by Don Lynch and Ken Marschall. All three commentary tracks are an interesting listen, especially the historical commentary. Cameron also spouts off a wealth of knowledge about the film, detailing production flubs that stayed in and other neat little quirks.
“Branching to Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes” play throughout the film, via way of a “Play” icon that shows up on screen when a documentary that has to do with a specific scene comes up. The featurettes are often short, sixty-one of them totaling a little over an hour, but are adequate and don’t feel like they interrupt the film for longer than necessary.
On the second disc we get the alternate ending, which Cameron states on the included commentary that it was originally going to be the ending to the film altogether. I’m glad it wasn’t, as it is profoundly stupid and would’ve really made the movies ending a lot less dramatic than it was. Also included on this disc is the absolutely awesome and completely re-watchable and re-listenable over and over again Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On.” And yes I’m being sarcastic; don’t furrow your brows like that.
And that’s it! We’re out of extras. All of the other behind-the-scenes featurettes and the like are on the third disc of the original set. If you don’t own the three-disc set and are looking towards this one, by all means pick it up—but as of this writing you can get the three-disc edition for nine dollars on Amazon, while this new two-disc is near twenty. There is no reason to purchase this DVD over the three disc edition; simply stay away from it and go for the three-disc. Skip it.
Titanic: 10th Anniversary Edition is now available on DVD.