Critical Analysis "Titanic"
Titanic is one of the most famous blockbuster movies of the 20th century. The movie was directed by James Cameron. It was released on 19th December 1997 in the US and then in a few weeks all over the world. The movie is considered to be a mixture of nonfiction, drama, romance, tragedy and many more. It is interesting for different age groups of people. James Cameron showed the world a great fictional love story of a young couple in the ship RMS Titanic.
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Titanic started its maiden voyage in the year 1912 from Southampton to New York City, where a young girl, who was engaged to a rich man, meets a young poor artist with whom she falls in love. The young girl Rose DeWitt Bukater’s role is played by famous actress Kate Winslet, and the poor young artist Jack Dawson’s role is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The story is based on a flashback, where Rose remembers her experience in RMS Titanic and tells the story to a group of people, which is the main plot of the movie.
From the point of view of a critic, I believe that the film consists of two storylines, where the main story is not about Titanic but rather romantic liaison between the main characters Jack and Rose. The second story is bearing the great disaster of the ship Titanic, which was the manufacturer’s pride as an unsinkable ship that proved wrong. The audience has watched the movie will remember a romantic love story. However, having shifted their attention from this love story, the viewers can learn a valuable historic and moral lesson in the story.
The real story of Titanic is not concentrated on the heroic love story of an individual with class conflict and excessive celebration of wealth, but it is rather a tragic story of thousands of innocent people, who died in that tragic incident without their fault.
The dual nature of the movie Titanic shows a fictionalized romance with factually inspired historical costume drama. Cameron was aware of the fact that the modern audience would not be interested in a historical costume drama, so he inserted the romantic plot as the main storyline in the film. In other words, Cameron chooses a love story as a vehicle. According to the plot, Jack Dawson, a young bachelor from the third class meets a young socialite woman Rose who is engaged to a rich man.
However, Cameron did a great job of choosing talented actors for effective roles. Leonardo DiCaprio acted Jack Dawson’s roles passionately. According to the plot, Jack wins the lottery ticket in a poker game and jumps into Titanic in a last-minute as the enormous fated ship is pulling out of the harbor. He is a classic male adventurer, who does not have any ties with his family, friends or country. His days are occupied by whatever he chooses to do, and he answers to nobody. In contrast, Rose De Witt Bukatar is a young beautiful woman who is accustomed to the finest things of aristocratic life. She belongs to an upper-class family. Her family has come to financial ruin, so her parents want to rescue it by marrying her back into wealth. She got engaged with a rich man Caledon Nathan (acted by Billy Zane) representing an antagonist’s role in the movie. Brock Lovett (acted by Bill Paxton) is another important character of the film. He is the narrator of the whole story in the film. In a nutshell, Cameron was quite successful to portrait the characters in the film (Ebert,1997).
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Russell Carpenter is the cinematographer of the film Titanic. He won the 1998 Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Overall, he performed an excellent job by adding different visual effects in his motion pictures. Carpenter’s photography shows more clearly the cinematic beauty and quality of the movie. His perfection of still photography is also another reason for the film’s success. During the production, Cameron’s ideas did not clash with Carpenter’s work as both of them had similar tastes. Cameron’s set construction and knowledge of photography helped Carpenter to show his talent and skills as a cinematographer.
Editing plays an important role in a movie as it decides which scene is to be kept and which to be omitted. Cameron chose to omit some historical facts in the film, like on the day of the incident there was another ship nearby Titanic, the “SS Californian”, but the ship’s authorities turned off their radio for the night and did not hear the SOS calls from Titanic.
During the film editing, Cameron altered some other scenes too by considering the test audience’s interests. For instance, in the story, Rose was not alone in the deck when she threw the Heart of ocean into the ocean, but the director altered the public scene, in order to portray the climax of Jack and Rose more closely. Cameron altered another scene, which featured a fight between Jack and Lovejoy, which took place after Jack and Rose escaped through the flooded dining room. The scene was written to give the film more suspense, but Cameron altered it on the test audience’s demand. Many other scenes were cut from the film for different reasons which the director or the test audiences considered unimportant (Matthews, 2012)
The soundtracks of the film were composed by the famous composer, James Horner. Horner tried almost thirty singers for singing the vocals throughout the film and finally chose Sissel, a Norwegian singer for the vocals. His voice created specific moods during the film.
Cameron did not want to use any song in his movie, so Horner secretly wrote a song “My Heart Will Go On” with Will Jennings and recorded a demo version of the song with Celine Dion. Horner waited for a proper moment to present the song to Cameron. He played the song several times, and finally, Cameron approved the idea of adding the song into the film. Still, he was not sure of introducing it at the end of the movie as he could be commercially criticized for it. Cameron discussed the matter of the song with studio executives and came to a point that a hit song from his movie could be a positive factor to make his movie more successful. Within the context of sound designing of the film Titanic, Chris Boyes’s contribution is noteworthy because he was keenly interested in inculcating natural sound to the soundtrack. Some of the important scenes in the film such as Titanic hitting the iceberg and sinking into the ocean prove Boyle as a successful sound designer. The film got three Oscars for Sound, Original Song and Sound Effect Editing, which proves that sound effects are another element behind the success of the film.
Style and Directing:
James Cameron has unique styles and passion in the direction of different films. He always prefers to make high budget movies as he decides not to compromise the perfection of the film with a low budget. He is fond of films. That is why he left his previous profession as a truck driver and started to work with films. Earlier, he worked at Roger Corman Studios which helped him to understand that low budget films do not help directors to be independent of various expensive sets and scenes. To make the scenes perfect, he went under the sea with his crew to investigate the real Titanic. Some actual footages of the ship RMS Titanic used in the film Titanic were shot by Cameron himself, and this proves his commitment towards his profession. To be specific, Cameron’s style and direction are closely related to perfectionism and commitment as a director. Carmen’s skills are not only limited to the sphere of film direction but also he has plenty of skills in scriptwriting, editing production, etc. For instance, he was working as an art director in the film Battle Beyond the Stars. In the past, he directed several successful movies like Terminator, True Lies, etc. Such experiences gave him ideas about the movie Titanic.
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Overall, the movie has a mixed social impact. It was praised as well as scorned by the critics. From the positive side, the movie consists of fiction, relevance to history, and romance. The director portrayed a historical event as the main theme of the movie and made it more colorful by adding a romantic story. It is quite interesting for the audience who are fond of romantic dramas.
On the other hand, many people who wanted to see a historical drama with realistic sets, special effects and periods of costumes were surprised by the overly romanticized film, complete with frontal nudity. Still, the film’s social impact is quite high as it is intelligently reconstructed.
The director’s professionalism actually impressed the viewers, especially in the shipwrecking and sinking scenes. The awards, including Oscars, gained by the film prove that the same was the box office hit of the 20th century. The visual effects are especially good, which attracts the audience of different age groups.
It is difficult to view Titanic as a definite genre. It can be considered in Nonfiction, Romance, Drama, Tragedy, etc. Though the main theme of the film is a historical event, the director pays more attention to the romantic part of the movie. The disaster faced by passengers is another theme of the movie. From the other side, the film shows that disasters or wealth cannot affect true love. The film gives an important message that when an individual is in death’s door, it does not matter whether he is rich or poor. In reality, both upper and lower class passengers have been forced to face the disaster.
In a nutshell, Titanic is one of the greatest movies of all time. It is easy to criticize the movie from different points of view. However, it creates an emotional feeling to most of the audience, which is a real feeling of love and harmony. James Cameron really worked his best in his movie creating each scene and character so carefully that an individual can remember the scenes for his/her entire life. Thus, the movie won several awards and created a milestone in the history of Hollywood movies.