I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Titanic, 1997





Rated PG-13

Two weeks ago, we passed the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, so I thought it would be appropriate to watch this movie again this month. I adore this movie for many, many reasons, so no one had to twist my arm to sit down and watch it for the umpteenth time.

I had mixed emotions about writing this post though. I saw “Titanic” seven times in the theater and quickly learned that I needed to bring my own box of Kleenex with me each time. I've seen the film countless times since then. It sparked a new fascination in me about any and everything related to Titanic, both the film and the actual ship. But, I know this movie has become a pop-culture cliché what with the tragic love story starring cutie-boy Leonardo DiCaprio and the over-the-top ballad at the end of the film by diva Celine Dion. I think it’s gotten a bad rap as being cheesy or sappy. This movie was created so meticulously, I find it hard not to be in awe. I believe the film does a remarkable job of recreating the tragic events of that fateful night, from the complexities of the ship’s destruction to the array of reactions from its passengers. It is a heart-breaking story.

I won’t waste time re-capping the film; I assume everyone at least knows the story of the real Titanic. The film was a dramatic recreation of that story made more emotionally personal since it followed the fictional love story between betrothed upper-class debutante Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and lucky last-minute third class passenger Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio).

In 1997, I dragged my boyfriend (now husband) to the theater to see “Titanic” with me of course. I think he was a little intimidated by my passion for the film. He may also have been put off by the fact that I was also calling Leo my boyfriend and signing my name as "Amy DiCaprio" on my high school textbook covers. I went so far as to sign papers to give to my friends saying they'd be worth something later since they "knew me when".

I could go on in detail about this movie’s incredible special effects, beautiful score, touching characters, but I’d end up writing a thesis. Yes, this movie truly has it all in my humble opinion. The amazing James Cameron wrote, produced, directed, and edited this film which is astonishing in itself. (This is the same man who brought you the phenomenon "Avatar". I say "you" because to this day, I have absolutely no desire to see it.) His meticulous attention to detail about the ship's reconstruction is amazing. He built a model of the real Titanic in three-quarter size. From the carpeting and woodwork to the china dishes and ashtrays, everything is exactly how it looked on the ship in 1912 according to documents, photos, and artifacts. And at 194 minutes long, Cameron is able to show the disaster unfolding in almost real time. I love how the movie started out with Cameron’s real footage from his marine voyages to the wreckage. It gives us, who will never make that trip to the bottom of the ocean, a rare glimpse at how the ship has been preserved in darkness. 

This time around, a scene that especially made a lump rise in my throat was when the third class passengers are being kept from boarding the lifeboats, held back by locked gates and angry officers. A woman bends down to explain to her little daughter that they have to wait patiently and be ready for their turn when the officers are through boarding the first and second class passengers. The same woman is later seen briefly tucking her two little children in their bed and telling them a sweet bedtime story. As a mother, I cannot begin to imagine the fear she was feeling and the strength she had not to panic but to accept the reality and do what she could to keep her children unaware and peaceful.

That year, “Titanic” was up against “Good Will Hunting”, “As Good as It Gets”, “L.A. Confidential”, and “The Full Monty”. I've seen all of those films nominated except for the last one and the winner was obvious. I enjoyed and own “Good Will Hunting” but I believe it was the year's second best film. No movie came close to “Titanic” with regards to popularity and box office sales. In fact, to date, it is the most successful film of all time grossing close to two billion dollars worldwide! It is one of two films in Oscar history that had the largest amount of nominations for awards (14) and it is one of three films to win the largest amount (11). No awards were given to actors though. Interestingly, this was the first time in Oscar history that two females were nominated for playing the same character in the same film (Kate Winslet for young Rose and Gloria Stuart for old Rose.) This didn’t happen again until 2001 when Kate Winslet, of all people, played the younger version of a character also played by Judy Dench.

If I haven’t inspired you to see the movie (for the first time or again), I at least encourage you to visit the traveling “Artifact Exhibition” about this magnificent ship. It is a remarkable experience. Visit http://www.titanictix.com/.

FAVORITE LINES:

When Jack sketches Rose wearing only La Coeur de la Mer, Rose comments on his rosy complexion…
Rose: "I believe you are blushing Mr. Big Artiste. I can't imagine Monsieur Monet blushing."
Jack: "He does landscapes."

As a third class passenger runs along the top deck to board a lifeboat, he passes by the band and says, “Music to drown by. Now I know I’m in first class.” If the legend is true, and those gentlemen played to the last minute, I applaud them for their pride in their work.

FAVORITE SCENES:

The last scene of the movie is the most touching for me. As Rose passes away as an “old, old lady warm in her bed” (as Jack foretold), the camera pans across the picture frames that she insisted accompany her on her travels. The photographs document her life after Titanic and we can clearly see that she “never let go” of that promise to Jack: she carried on and enjoyed her life. (The instrumental music that plays appropriately in the background is Celine’s “My Heart Will Go On”.) Here are a few of the pictures that make me smile and tear up at the same time; a few of them are specific things that she and Jack talked about doing together after their voyage.

   
  
I also enjoy watching the dinner scene when Jack dresses to impress at the first class meal he’s been invited to. It has some great lines. The “unsinkable” Molly Brown taught me that when faced with multiple serving utensils, you just “start from the outside and work your way in”.


LESSONS LEARNED:

Make it count. This is what they toast to, (Jack’s mantra), at the above-mentioned dinner scene. He believes that “life’s a gift and [he doesn’t] intend on wasting it.” Amen brother.

Prepare for the unexpected. I don’t mean to be insensitive, honestly. The biggest lesson the White Star Line learned from the sinking, was always have enough lifeboats even if it does make the decks look cluttered. This lesson can be applied practically (i.e. Earthquake preparedness kits), emotionally, and spiritually.

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