Titanic is a 1997 American epic romantic disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.
Cameron’s inspiration for the film was predicated on his fascination with shipwrecks; he wanted to convey the emotional message of the tragedy, and felt that a love story interspersed with the human loss would be essential to achieving this. Production on the film began in 1995, when Cameron shot footage of the actual Titanic wreck. The modern scenes were shot on board the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh, which Cameron had used as a base when filming the wreck. A reconstruction of the Titanic was built at Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, and scale models and computer-generated imagery were also used to recreate the sinking. The film was partially funded by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox, and, at the time, was the most expensive film ever made, with an estimated budget of $200 million.
Upon its release on December 19, 1997, the film achieved critical and commercial success. Nominated for fourteen Academy Awards, it won eleven, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director, tying Ben Hur (1959) for most Oscars won by a single film. With an initial worldwide gross of over $1.84 billion, it was the first film to reach the billion-dollar mark. It remained the highest-grossing film of all time for twelve years, until Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar surpassed its gross in 2010. A 3D version of the film, released on April 4, 2012 (often billed as Titanic 3D), to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the ship, earned it an additional $343 million worldwide, which pushed Titanic’s worldwide total to $2.18 billion. It became the second film to pass the two-billion mark (the first being Avatar).
In 1996, treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team explore the wreck of RMS Titanic, searching for a valuable diamond necklace called the Heart of the Ocean. They recover Caledon “Cal” Hockley’s safe, believing the necklace to be inside, but instead find a sketch of a nude woman wearing it, dated April 14, 1912, the night the Titanic sank. Hearing about the drawing, an elderly woman named Rose Dawson Calvert calls Lovett and claims that she is the woman depicted in the drawing. She and her granddaughter, Lizzy Calvert, visit him and his team on his salvage ship. When asked if she knows the whereabouts of the necklace, Rose recalls her time aboard the Titanic, revealing that she is Rose DeWitt Bukater, a passenger believed to have died in the sinking. She then begins her story as follows:
In 1912, 17-year-old first class passenger Rose boards “Titanic” in Southampton with her fiancé Cal and her mother Ruth DeWitt Bukater. Ruth stresses the importance of Rose’s engagement, as the marriage would solve the DeWitt Bukaters’ secret financial problems. Distraught by her engagement, Rose considers suicide by jumping off the ship’s stern; a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson stops her. Discovered with Jack on the stern, Rose tells Cal that she was looking over the ship’s edge in curiosity and that Jack saved her from falling. Pressed, Jack confirms her account. Cal is at first aloof to Jack, but when Rose indicates that recognition is due, he offers him a small amount of money. After Rose mocks Cal for this, asking if her life means so little, he invites Jack to dinner the following night. Jack and Rose develop a tentative friendship, even though Cal and Ruth are wary of the young third-class man. Following the first-class dinner that night, Rose secretly joins Jack at a party in the ship’s third-class quarter.
Because Cal and Ruth forbid her to see Jack, Rose attempts to rebuff Jack’s continuing advances. She soon realizes, though, that she prefers him over Cal, and meets him at the bow of the ship during what turns out to be the Titanic‘s final moments of daylight. They then go to Rose’s stateroom, where she asks Jack to sketch her nude while wearing the Heart of the Ocean, Cal’s engagement present to her. Afterward, the two evade Cal’s bodyguard and make love inside a car in the ship’s cargo hold. Going afterwards to the ship’s forward well deck, they witness the ship’s collision with an iceberg and overhear the ship’s officers and designer outline its seriousness. Rose tells Jack that they should warn her mother and Cal.
Cal discovers Jack’s drawing and a mocking note from Rose in his safe along with the necklace. Furious, he has his bodyguard slip the necklace into Jack’s coat pocket. Accused of stealing it, Jack is arrested, taken down to the Master-at-arms’s office and handcuffed to a pipe. Cal puts the necklace in his coat. Rose runs away from Cal and her mother (who has boarded a lifeboat) and releases Jack. The ship then starts to launch flares in order to attract any nearby ships.
Once Jack and Rose reach the deck, Cal and Jack persuade her to board another lifeboat, Cal claiming that he has arranged for himself and Jack to get off safely. After she boards, Cal tells Jack that the arrangement is only for himself. As Rose’s boat lowers, she realizes that she cannot leave Jack, and jumps back on board the Titanic to reunite with him. Infuriated, Cal takes a pistol and chases them into the flooding first-class dining saloon. After exhausting his ammunition, Cal realizes to his chagrin that he gave his coat with the diamond to Rose. With the situation now dire, he returns to the boat deck and boards a lifeboat by pretending to look after a lost child.
Jack and Rose return to the top deck. All lifeboats have departed and passengers are falling to their deaths as the stern rises out of the water. The ship breaks in half, and the stern side rises 90-degrees into the air. As it sinks, Jack and Rose ride the stern into the ocean. Jack helps Rose onto a wall panel only able to support one person’s weight. Holding the panel’s edge, he assures her she will die an old woman, warm in her bed. Meanwhile, Fifth Officer Harold Lowe has commandeered a lifeboat to search for survivors. Jack soon dies of hypothermia and Rose draws the attention of Lowe’s boat, and is ultimately saved.
Rose and the other survivors are taken by the RMS Carpathia to New York, where Rose gives her name as Rose Dawson. She hides from Cal on Carpathia‘s deck as he searches for her. She learns later that he committed suicide after losing his fortune in the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
Her story complete, Rose goes alone to the stern of Lovett’s ship. There she takes out the Heart of the Ocean, which has been in her possession all along, and drops it into the ocean. While seemingly asleep in her bed, the photos on her dresser are a visual chronicle that she lived a free life inspired by Jack. The young Rose is then seen reuniting with Jack at the Grand Staircase of the RMS Titanic, applauded and congratulated by those who perished on the ship.
Lyla: “I saw this movie opening day and it took my breath away. James Cameron’s fictional story of Jack and Rose entwined with real life occurances was haunting and absolutely beautiful. He is an amazing director and writer that this movie would not have worked without him.
Kate Winslet was stunning as Rose and this movie belonged to her as you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing this role.
Leonardo DiCaprio was really good as Jack and he should have had an an Oscar nomination for this role and the ever brilliant Billy Zane didn’t disappoint in his role as Rose’s fiance Cal. His portrayl of Cal was so evil that despite being an awful person, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, especially when despite all his doings he loved Rose so much.
James Horner’s music was just as haunting and he always lifts the movie he works on to the ultimate level.
Kathy Bates was equally impressive in a small role and provided quite a few of the laughs of the film.
Everything from the special effects, to the sets to the costumes were pure magic.
This would have to be one of the most wonderful films of the 20th Century and one that will never be forgotten.”