Over the years I have taken joy in telling people that I have never seen Titanic. Despite it’s immense popularity, I know many people today who have never seen the film. Titanic’s praises have been sung since the ship was first built and the movie still ranks Top 5 or higher for various money making statistics.
This movie might be more hyped than Star Wars.
But is it worthy of the hype? Does the movie hold up after 20 years? Let’s find out.
First off, “holy Peter Jackson, Batman!” This is a long movie. With a runtime of 3 hours and 14 minutes this movie wins for sheer length alone. That said, Titanic doesn’t feel long. The movie is paced very well and keeps a viewer engaged throughout the entire plot.
If you haven’t seen Titanic, the movie is a historical drama. At it’s core it’s a classic retelling of Romeo and Juliet, with an arguably happier ending. The name “Titanic” is virtually synonymous with the word “sinking” or “sunk” these days, so I’m hopefully not spoiling anything when I say that the boat, does indeed, hit an iceberg and end up at the bottom of the ocean.
Yet, this isn’t a story about a boat. This is a story of an unhappy woman who feels trapped amid expectations regarding her future. She meets a new friend/lover on the ship and their lives are turned upside down. The powerful plot is strangely relatable and clearly the reason for the movie’s titan success.
The movie uses a lot of special effects and the graphics do show their age when watching the film in high definition. At the same time, the shots of the ship appear stylized. They almost have a painted quality as opposed to photo realism. At times it felt like watching a storybook.
In many ways the film is heart wrenching. A lot of people die on the boat and the film pulls no punches when it comes to showing the various reactions to impending death. However, the movie manages to leave the audience in a peaceful catharsis when the credits finally roll.
Sound tracks make movies and the Titanic soundtrack is iconic. It holds back from being “over the top epic” and instead supports the cinematography with beautiful melodies and provides an undercurrent of emotion.
Speaking of cinematography: it’s great. The editing it fantastic. The pull together some beautiful match cuts that help weave past and present together into a seamless tale. (The story is told via a handful of flashbacks as the woman recounts the events to a treasure hunter floating over the wreckage of the Titanic.)
So does Titanic live up to the hype?
I’m going to say yes it does. It’s a good film and it holds up well, even after 20 years.