It’s been fifteen years (yes, really) since British actress Kate Winslet and former teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio became overnight movie stars thanks to their lead roles in James Cameron’s multi-award winning, box office behemoth Titanic (1997). Now, on the 100-year anniversary of the historic Titanic disaster (10 April, 1912), audiences can revisit Jack and Rose’s loves story once more in 3D, following a somewhat hastily-commissioned (and frankly pointless) refit.
For those yet to see Cameron’s Titanic (there may still be some), here’s a brief plot summary. On board the ill-fated vessel are poor street urchin Jack Dawson (DiCaprio) and wealthy Rose DeWitt Bukater (Winslet), both headed for a new life in America. Set up as two star-crossed kindred spirits, Jack and Rose predictably meet and fall instantaneously in love, despite their radically different social backgrounds. However, on the night of 14 April, the ship breaches its hull on an iceberg, leading to an historically disastrous outcome in the icy Atlantic for those unable to procure a lifeboat.
Revisiting a film as iconic and significant as Titanic is certainly a bizarre experience. 15 years on, all the pomp and hype that was poured upon the film upon its original cinematic release seems alien and absurd, completely lacking all context. Adversely, the reality of Celine Dion’s horribly sentimental and sickly ‘My Heart Will Go On’ as well as some extremely dated CGI sweeping shots (hindered by the sentimental John Ford-esque sunsets and terrible grading) seem tacky in the extreme – it’s clear top see why some critics took against it so vehemently.
Yet despite its numerous flaws, Cameron’s blockbuster still somehow entices. For starters, the film is well-paced despite a 3-hour-plus (194 minute) runtime, near perfectly balancing Jack and Rose’s blossoming romance with the overall fate of the Titanic, its passengers and crew. In addition, the performances are generally strong, including the young DiCaprio, who shows early glimpses of the fine actor he has since become. Arguably more enjoyable however are the supporting cast, with Kathy Bates, Bernard Hill and Jonathan Hyde all extremely watchable in their respective roles.
Like it or lump it, Titanic remains one of the most monumental releases of the last 20 years, attracting audiences in record-breaking numbers and sweeping all before it at the 1998 Academy Awards, where it walked away with a hefty haul of 11 Oscars. This 3D retrofit certainly smacks of a cynical cash-in, but at least gives allows a new generation a chance to see Cameron’s original ‘game-changer’ where it belongs – on the big screen.