Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Titanic Involvement


I don't know why I am fascinated with 'Titanic'. Whenever it's on the tube I just have to stop and watch.

Last night was a perfect example. I was enjoying 'Big BangTheory' through to its logical, funny conclusion when I decided to channel hop. What's on HBO? What's on Cinemax? Flipping through 'Due Date' and past 'It's Complicated' and seeing that 'Valentine's Day' threatened to eat up an irretrievable portion of my viewing life, I spied 'Titanic' right there in the middle of the on screen television guide.

Wonder what part of the movie is on now…hmmm. The love scene in the car? The flirty, charcoal artist scene featuring, I believe, director James Cameron's hands actually doing the drawing? The ship scraping the iceberg? How about bitchy Billy Zane and his over plucked eyebrows?

It's a guilty pleasure, this movie. Of course I went for it.

Bam! I t's the scene with Leonardo DiCaprio playing poker. It's the beginning! I know he will win boarding tickets and set the movie in motion. Jack and Italian second banana Fabrizio move through the crowd, almost running into a team of horses. Onto the gangway. A small leap and then onto the ship and into cinema history.

I am hooked even though I know what's coming. The tragedy… the BIG disaster. The attraction is a lot like another guilty pleasure of mine, Irwin Allen's 'The Poseidon Adventure', the one with Gene Hackman, Roddy MacDowell and Shelley Winters.

I don't get why I like to watch these movies. 'Poseidon' has the definite cheese factor. But 'Titanic' is just so, epic.

Even though I have to admit, bits of 'Titanic' have always been a little confusing for me. For example, if the movie is from Rose's point-of-view, then how is it she is recollecting Jack and Fabrizio's poker game? Any scene she's not in should not be part of her memory, right? The scene where Molly Brown (Kathy Bates) dresses Jack in her son's tuxedo, the scheming machinations between Cal (Billy Zane) and bodyguard/detective Lovejoy (David Warner), Bruce Ismay (Jonathan Hyde) sneaking aboard a lifeboat, Thomas Andrews (Victor Garber) telling the Captain and pertinent crew that the Titanic will surely go under after displaying the ship's blueprints, etc.

That older Rose has quite an imagination, filling in the blanks where her eyewitness account is not enough. Brought aboard a vessel to explore the real Titanic's ruins and provide the testimonial human interest part of the tale, I guess she inadvertently provides whatever fiction she can muster as well.

But while logic says it doesn't make sense for the movie to break its own rules regarding point-of-view, the sheer magnitude of the epic visuals combined with superb storytelling bring out the emotion and drama of the situation such that other items become minuscule and just not that important. They become forgivable.

You know you can forgive a lot if the story is a good one. Setting youthful romance against the backdrop of certain disaster gives this movie a kind of 'Romeo and Juliet' quality which reaffirms love and hope and longing even in the face of tragedy. There's a kind of immortality in the notion of living in the hearts and minds of others beyond your lifetime. And by watching it, the audience gets a feeling for what the real victims went through and feels sad for the tragic, senseless loss and holds the victims in an honored reverence.

I wonder if THAT's why I find 'Titanic' irresistible. Life remembered beyond death is an attractive notion, and so surely spelled out as a theme. Good storytelling and captivating visuals to heighten the drama and really drive the emotional impact home and being held in the capable hands of director/writer James Cameron helps too - by the way.

Do you have any movies that do that to you?

2 comments:

David said...

i was reading in The Atlantic that there was only one car on board the Titanic. And DiCaprio found it!

van dyke said...

Ha! I like it!