<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by James Cameron. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton.
Fifteen years later, one of the world’s highest grossing films, re-releases in 3D for a whole new generation. You’d think it’s a gimmick, but this is a film that does well in the new format and is timeless in its own right.
Sure you’ve seen the promos of Director James Cameron’s underwater expeditions to the Titanic on NatGeo and all the stories out during the real Titanic’s 100-year anniversary. Of course, it’s a bit of publicity. I read somewhere that apparently they knew the ship’s rivets were not strong enough before it set sail. Oh well, whatever the rediscoveries now by Mr Cameron or anyone else, the film is here in 3D. Are you ready to go back to Titanic? Well that’s for those of you who remember seeing it over a decade ago. This film will in fact be new to many of the younger generation.
I must say though, the first time I watched Titanic in 1997, I was bored to death and hated the filmmakers for wasting three-and-a-half hours of my life. But watching the film again on TV in recent years I grew fond and a bit emotional about Titanic. Such epic filmmaking, grand sets, period pieces, some pretty good acting and a disaster scene that puts you right there: we probably got to see all this in a film for the last time in Titanic. Because they just don’t make them like they used to.
It’s a timeless tale: an unsinkable ship on her maiden voyage. A young ‘rich’ girl named Rose (Kate Winslet) and her to-be husband tycoon but dictatorial ass Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) and her mother (Frances Fisher) board the Titanic. Apart from First Class passengers, there are Third Class passengers comprising immigrants and wanderer Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) who wins tickets in a game of poker and the dream of travelling on the Titanic. And of course, it is inevitable that Rose and Jack eventually meet and fall in love and thus begins their adventure, which is in many ways a wonderful counterpoint to the eventual ill-fated, ice-berg disaster that lead to more than half those aboard Titanic to lose their lives.
I watched the Titanic 3D special footage preview a while ago where Oscar-winning producer Jon Landau was present. The 3D didn’t really jump out at you and this, he explained, was the point. Titanic’s 3D is more immersive than it is in your face. Nothing jumps out at you. But you get the impression that there is a depth behind the screen. And they’ve not used 3D throughout, which is intentional. It’s there when you need it, absent when not. This 2D to 3D conversion is clearly well thought out, as it should be costing $ 18 million and three years to complete! In any case, you won’t watch this film for the 3D, you’ll watch it for the spectacle and the mix of romance, action, thrill and disaster.
Most of the 20-something audience I saw Titanic 3D with laughed at the jokes and applauded at the end of the film. In a way they got to see Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in a way they haven’t or will probably never get to watch in newer films.
Gloria Stuart’s performance as Old Rose, reciting her adventure on Titanic to treasure hunter Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) is simply magnificent. Billy Zane as the insidious and overbearing Hockley plays his part to perfection, you end up detesting him by the end. Leonardo proves his mettle here and the scene where he is shiny as a penny in a tux courtesy his new ally Molly Brown (Kathy Bates) and facing off with the ‘aristocracy’ at their dinner table is marvelous. Sure the film is a tad longer than you’d like it to be. But you probably won’t regret it.