Yesterday I finally got round to seeing Titanic, for the first time in my 23.5 years. Having never really been a “girly film” kinda gal growing up, not least due to having three brothers, I’ve managed to clock up all 4 Die Hards, a Lord of the Rings (extended, obvs) box set and a serious love for Gladiator in my time… but things like Titanic were firmly relegated to the “eurgh, soppy stuff” pile! Over the past few years, though, I’ve lived with some seriously girly girls. Self-professed rom com addicts – the kind who’d actually drag their poor boyfriend to The Notebook and be outraged when he didn’t enjoy it. I’m still nowhere near that end of the spectrum (note to boyfriend: don’t panic) but… these housemates, past and present… they’ve started to get to me! And while I wasn’t 100% I’d enjoy it – I mean come on, it’s not like I don’t know how it ends – I conceded it probably was “one of those films you should see”.
So having paid a frankly ridiculous £7.20 for my ticket (that’s WITH student discount, AND my own 3D glasses – !!) and consoled myself with a £2.09 pick and mix (tame by my standards, good girl), I was ready. And it definitely exceeded my expectations. I never used to like rom coms because, my own relationship aside, I’m not a fan of soppy. So big soaring cheese-fest “love stories” don’t really get to me – they need to connect (The Notebook) or they just don’t feel real (Dear John). It’s like Marley and Me – I don’t really get that sad about the dog dying because while puppies are awesome, I’ve never had a dog. It’s the family’s journey that I enjoy. But anyway, must not get sidetracked on puppies – Titanic.
Fair play, it’s a good film. A really good film. Like I said earlier, everyone knows what happens in the end, but if anything that just gives it this whole extra layer. You watch everyone climbing aboard, Jack’s excitement at his last minute ticket, and you think… if only you knew. You know what’s coming, you look for the signs (the lifeboats, the binoculars, April 14th) that were yet to achieve any significance, and you’re on slow-burning tenterhooks waiting for it all to start. There’s a part where “old” Rose, explaining the story present day, says “that was the last time the Titanic saw daylight”, and you think oh, here it goes; he slow slide towards the inevitable.
And it is slow burning. It’s a bloody long film, no bones about it, and I would say some of it could be called gratuitious. But I’m ultimately glad that nothing was rushed. This isn’t an action film, it’s an epic. There was one moment when Mr Andrews, the Irish shipbuilder, unfurls the blueprints and categorically demonstrates to those assembled that, the boat will sink, it is a fact, in as little as an hour – and everyone just stands there. Nobody panics. Nobody screams, runs around – nobody even really says anything. The freezing cold horror just sinks in, seeps through, a precursor of the waters themselves.
I did have some beef with it, but only superficially. As a closet Lord of the Rings geek, I will only ever be able to see Bernard Hill as King Theoden, and once I began to notice how often Jack and Rose say each other’s names, I couldn’t stop noticing it! To the extent where it felt like I was watching a spoof or parody. But for something of such scale, what I really enjoyed was how human it feels. I think Cameron achieved the same with Avatar – another one I only got round to seeing about a year after. When films have that much hype, if anything, it puts me off. But it was subtle, not shouty. I love the stories that come out in the film, how it picks up individual threads and shows you, slowly, how they unfold. And how they, ultimately, end. It reminds you that while everyone knows the Titanic sank, it makes you realise it happened. To actual people. Sometimes history can just feel like a story, but weirdly enough it was telling the story that in this case made it feel real.
Very much enjoyed, and deserving of the “modern classic” label I had scoffed at before. Next time I won’t be so reluctant to believe the hype!