Cast: Kate Winslet,Leonardo DiCaprio,Billy Zane,Kathy Bates
Director: James Cameron
Indian Express Ratings: ***
THERE are reasons that make Titanic an unsinkable story,none of which has got to do with the fact that it plays out to us in 3D. James Cameron got this so right the first time — even within old-syle melodrama — that he didn’t need this update. However,paradoxically,if there were a man to give Titanic a 100-year airbrush,it had to be Cameron,a director whose vision is almost as grand as it is limited — not much unlike the ship “that couldn’t be sunk”.
The only question to ask then is whether the 3D makes the sinking of the “largest man-made moving object ever made” more disastrous? No — except the depth it adds to the scenes where the ship is pictured against the sea it set out to conquer,underlining what came undone over two hours that night of April 14-15,1912.
Most of the story happens within narrow corridors,open decks and grand state rooms where the rendering in 3D doesn’t make much of a difference. It leaves us free to think what made Titanic the stupendous success it became in 1997. And you realise the cleverness with which Cameron (also the screenwriter) told the tale of hubris and conceit that was also the Titanic. He brings out the class consciousness of the times by picking a hero and a heroine from two different classes. He gives us a picture of how big the ship was by having them race through it between first class and third class,finally making out in a vintage car parked in the ship’s luggage hull. With an animation right at the beginning,he prepares us for what followed from the time the ship hit the iceberg to the two hours later that it sank — with enough time for everybody to realise what was happening. An awe-inspiring scene just involves going into the engine room with giant pistons swishing back and forth to keep the propellers running. Just in passing,he lets us know that only 20 lifeboats were carried for the 2,000-plus on board,so as “not to clutter the deck”.
Yes,Jack and Rose’s story breaks no set rules other than having a spitting competition,yes it goes no further than a rich girl finding freedom from tight corsets in a poor boy’s wanderer existence and a nude portrait,and yes their romance does get tiresome towards the end when they spring up in almost every corner of a ship that is coming apart and flooding in,despite the confusing corridors,floating doors and in the end,a fiance chasing them with a gun.
However,you can’t fault Cameron on the spectacle he creates for a story that began as a spectacle and will lie forever at the bottom of the sea as one for how it ended. He mounted his own under-sea exploration to the original Titanic,which is how the story begins,and now has spared no expense converting it to 3D (taking $18 million and more time than the original film took to shoot). It’s by far not the final word on the Titanic,but for a long time,you can take Cameron’s word for it.