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Titanic Is Truly Unsinkable This Time

By Teresa Huang
Staff Reporter

Despite a story laced with predictability, Titanic manages to stay afloat with amazing special effects and an emotional punch that won't soon be forgotten. If you haven't seen this movie, perhaps you're wondering what's so great about it? After all, everyone knows what happens at the end. As expected, the great ship does sink, but the unexpected comes in the form of an engaging love triangle that adds an element of romance and mystery to the familiar story of the Titanic.

The movie begins in the present day as fortune hunter Brock Lovett, played by Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13), leads his ship and staff in exploring the ruins of the Titanic in search of anything worth money, especially a blue diamond necklace worth millions which had yet to be discovered. During one underwater dive, Lovett discovers a drawing of a beautiful girl wearing the necklace he's searching for. When the picture is shown on the television news, a 101-year-old woman named Rose Dawson Calvert, played by film veteran Gloria Stuart (Poor Little Rich Girl, The Old Dark House), comes forward, claiming she is the woman in the picture.

Is this old woman really the woman in the picture? How did she survive the Titanic disaster? Does she know where the blue diamond is now? Hence, the mystery is created and the three-hour long flashback to the ill-fated journey of the R.M.S. Titanic in April 1912 begins.

Though writer and director James Cameron (The Terminator, Aliens, True Lies) intended to recreate the population aboard the Titanic as a microcosm for society in the early 1900s, his formula seems old and less interesting than it could have been. Rather than catching a glimpse of a forgotten era, we're given the same simplistic dichotomy between the rich and the poor that plagues many uninspired period films.

The tiers of the Titanic correspond with the classes of the ship but not the moral level of the people, with the first class passengers being snooty and oblivious while the third class passengers are friendly, loving people with hearts of gold. Still, although the characters come off as caricatures of their class, the actors play them seamlessly with very little intended humor. Forget for a minute that the specific focus of the movie actually turned out to be the weakest part and the overall product is amazing.

The story in Titanic is a perfectly woven tale of love at first sight, selfish desires, and personal greed, at the heart of which is a tireless rich girl meets poor boy story. Leonardo DiCaprio (Romeo & Juliet, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?) plays American free spirit Jack Dawson, who meets stiff-collared beauty Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet (Hamlet, Sense and Sensibility). Of course, although Rose is rich, she is unhappily engaged to a rich beast, played by Billy Zane (The Phantom). Jack saves Rose from her constricted life and offers her the only thing in his possession: his love. The romance that develops between Jack and Rose is predictable but powerful, surviving tragedy after tragedy until the bittersweet end.

The biggest star in this film is probably James Cameron. The way in which he recreates the tragedy of the Titanic is heartfelt and terrifying. See the film and you can expect a full 80-minute roller coaster ride of emotions as the ship sinks and we're suddenly thrust in and out of hundreds of lives, minds, and experiences. When disaster strikes, the characters that seemed plastic and typical earlier become extremely more complex. Many of the richer people do not cower, but grow stronger, while many of the third class passengers allow themselves to be consumed by fear. Billy Zane's character becomes even more despicable while Winslet and DiCaprio's characters prove themselves unstoppable. Ironically, it's not until the tragedy begins that the true spirit of the film emerges.

Cameron explores the amazingly brave and cowardice actions of almost everyone on the ship, effectively covering the probable range of emotions and fears felt during Titanic's final moments. Many people on the Titanic feared the certain death that awaited them at sea, while others found a greater terror in the decisions they suddenly faced in the final hour. Encounter after encounter leaves you wondering what you would do if you were on Titanic on that night.

Images and people encountered in the last 80 minutes of the film are easily more memorable and powerful than anywhere else in the film, and will surely haunt you even after you leave the theater. The action is simply riveting and the spectacle is astounding. Titanic is, to date, the most expensive film ever made, but you can definitely see every dollar that was spent on screen.

Titanic is the movie event of the year, filled with exquisite moments of delicacy, moments of great humor, and true sassiness and spirit, amplified by unbelievable special effects that leave you wishing Titanic hadn't sunk. Cameron has truly harnessed the power of film.

Written by James Cameron

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, and Bill Paxton