Ah, Hollywood. The name reminds of what’s bad but also of what’s good in the movie industry. Just think of “Casablanca” or “Gone With the Wind”. Yeah, there was a time when movies became classics. Love wasn’t stuck in romantic comedies. No, Hollywood was making epics. But for some reason, Hollywood kind of lost its breath for a while, and filmmakers started to make smaller, grittier films. Of course, Tinseltown came back big in 1977 with “Star Wars”, the first modern blockbuster. Okay, movies were gathering crowds again, but, as Hanson would say, where’s the love? Now, in 1997, an incredibly involving love epic is hitting the screens. But the surprise doesn’t end there because: a) the film is directed by James Cameron, who previously helmed not-so-romantic pictures like “The Terminator” and “Aliens”; b) the film cost no less than 200 million buckaroos and c) it takes place on the Titanic!
The film begins nowadays, as a team of fun-loving deep sea explorers are wandering around the remains of the great big ship in search of what might be the most valuable diamond in the world. Things get interesting when they get a call from the woman who once wore the diamond, before the Titanic went down. She’s the one who’s gonna tell them what happened the night of the sinking. And so we go back to 1912, as a much, much younger Rose is getting on board with her aristocrat relatives and her millionaire fiancÃ©. She’s not alone on her way to America. More than 2000 passengers get on the Titanic, whether rich or poor. One of the less fortunate is Jack Dawson who won tickets playing poker for what would be the first and only trip of the biggest moving object ever built. Jack and Rose seem to have nothing in common, but fate will make them lovers. But the young couple’s happiness won’t last long, as the moment of the collision with an iceberg closes by. And that’s when all hell breaks loose…
Kidding apart, you can really say that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The film is a 3 hour long epic, and a whole lotta stuff happens. Two things are especially important among all that. First, there’s the love story. Cameron’s script is surprisingly good. He handles romance better than you’d expect from Schwarzenegger’s director of choice. The characters are interestingly defined and very well played. Kate Winslet is fantastic as Rose. At first, she’s just a spoiled brat, but as she gets closer to Jack, she becomes lovable and funny. What’s really striking, though, is the more dramatic part of her performance. The film is about a tragedy after all. Oh, and by the way, no, she’s not fat. What kind of a messed up society criticizes every star that ain’t anorexic?
Anyway, you might know that her lover is played by an obscure (ha!) actor named Leonardo DiCaprio. Poor yet witty, his character is a real charmer. DiCaprio might be a teen heartthrob, but you got to admit that he’s also one of the most talented actors of his generation. He was cool in “Romeo & Juliet”, but he’s even better here. He reminded me of the young Robert De Niro from films like “New York, New York”. The film also features Gloria Stuart as the old Rose, Kathy Bates and, for some reason, Billy Zane. Why the hell did Cameron cast him? He’s the Phantom, for God’s sake! He’ll always be kind of ridiculous to me. He plays Rose’s asshole fiancÃ©, and he really makes you want to bust his cap. Maybe that’s Zane’s talent: he achieves to make you hate him.
The second part of the film is about the actual sinking, which must last an hour. James Cameron’s a gifted filmmaker, and this film is one of his greatest accomplishments. It might have cost 200+ M$, but at least it’s all on the screen. An almost full-size replica of the Titanic was built and destroyed for the film, which features some of the most breath-taking filmmaking you’ll ever see. The sinking involves humongous sets drowned in thousands of gallons of water, with thousands of extras running and falling around the ship. And since there’s this gripping love story in the middle of all this, you really get into the action, and you do care about what’s gonna happen. I don’t wanna spoil anything, but the film gets real intense and moving. Being a guy, I had to restrain myself, but lots of girls around me were weeping. So, kudos to generally macho director Cameron for this unforgettable picture. It lasts 3 hours, and I wasn’t bored for a second.