Review by Don Weinman
In 1984 a young director named James Cameron wrote and directed a film called "The Terminator". It immediately became a cult classicand lines from the film ("I'll be back...") have gone into near legendary status. That film cost around $9 mil to make and has grossed many times that. Cameron has demonstrated the same talent many times since, but his latest film cost so much to make that there is little hope it will show a profit in the lifetime ofanyone connected with it.
So what? Well, that shouldn't mean anything to us, and my heartfeltadvice is see it!!!
The money he spent shows. The effects are marvelous, the undersea shots of the wreck of the great liner are wonderful, and the acting,dialogue, and direction are first rate.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslett, Billy Zane, and especially a wonderful actress from the thirties named Gloria Stuart, (whoCameron picked to play the part of the 101 year old survivor whose story forms the bones of the plot) are all superb.
The story of the Titanic has impressed itself on the psyche of everyone in the world, it would seem. The Internet Movie Database lists no less than nine feature films dealing with it in one way or another, and the bibliography listed on "Jim's Titanic Page" on the WWW is too long to even count. There are good reasons for this. 1912 was one the last years of what most historians think of as the "Years of Boundless Optimism" that opened the twentieth century. WWI was only two years in the future, and the fissures that opened up when this great ship went down with less than 800 survivors can be seen as a forwarning of the earthquake of social conscience that destroyed that optimism.
Cameron tells that story very well. The opulence of the First Class accommodations, contrasted with the conditions below decks, and the dreadful scenes of locked and guarded gates intending to prevent the steerage passengers from boarding lifeboats until the upper class passengers were safely disenbarked, is emphasized to the point that Cameron is obviously involved here in social commentary. It worked for me, although I have read some critics who found it unconvincing.
My own dispute with the film regards its length. It runs for three hours and fourteen minutes, and for me at least, this is thirty or more minutes too long. I know that every shot must seem like gold to the director who conceived them, but there are scenes once the ship is mortally wounded that could have been cut without doing any damage at all, particularly scenes when DiCaprio and Winslett run madly through seemingly endless corridors filling with water shouting "This way! Hurry!"
Nonetheless, this is a must see.
Full cast and credits can be found at the Internet Movie Database.
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