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Titanic Review: Reinventing Blockbuster Storytelling

Thanks to its awe-inspiring set pieces and captivating romance, James Cameron’s Titanic remains just as powerful today as it was 25 years ago.

James Cameron’s Titanic was a complete box office sensation when it took the world by storm in 1997, and ever since that point, audiences have been trying to pinpoint exactly what it is about this timeless tragedy that made so many viewers fall in love with the film. It’s entirely unlike anything that cinema had seen before, blending genres and styles from start to finish, creating a story that’s impossible to describe with words. Whilst the untimely deaths of 1,500 passengers might not immediately seem like a suitable backdrop for such a sentimental, emotional romance like this, Cameron proves several times over that love and tragedy can often be found hand in hand.

Titanic recounts the fictional romance between Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), two lost souls whose separate journeys converge onboard the Titanic, resulting in a fairytale romance that brings the pair together. The first 90 minutes play like any other love story – though much more captivating and powerful than you’d expect. Jack and Rose’s dynamic builds slowly over the film’s 190-minute runtime, preventing the story from rushing through anything. Thanks to Cameron’s expert storytelling and the exceptional performances of DiCaprio and Winslet, the dynamic between Jack and Rose feels much more natural and fluid than most on-screen romances. It’s a surprisingly simple story, but it’s this very simplicity that ensures Titanic works. The magic is found in the quieter, less sensational moments between Jack and Rose as they grow closer to each other and begin to learn more about themselves on this journey.

And yet, anybody can write a whirlwind romance – what makes Titanic really special is how quickly and effectively this romance transforms into a heartbreaking race for survival. Everybody knows the real-life story of how the Titanic scraped an iceberg and eventually sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but James Cameron uses this romantic backdrop and magical atmosphere to truly bring this unique disaster to life in a way that’s never been replicated on film before. From the second that iceberg appears on screen, Titanic transforms from a hazy, slow-paced romance into a thrilling adventure that forces the audience to come face-to-face with death and sacrifice on a gigantic scale. 

loud and clear reviews titanic 1997 film movie Leonardo DiCaprio Kate Winslet James Cameron
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic (20th Century Fox)

The final hour of Titanic includes some of the most intense filmmaking in James Cameron’s entire filmography, and more importantly, some of the most influential and impressive special effects ever put to screen. The film’s recreation of the Titanic’s destruction is flawless, and there are several moments that could genuinely be mistaken for real footage. Cameron uses a mixture of special and practical effects to create this claustrophobic atmosphere, paying attention to even the most indistinct background details in order to really bring the scene to life. There’s always something shocking happening on screen, whether it’s rooms collapsing, people drowning, or even passengers fighting the staff, everything is fully-developed to make this experience feel as suffocatingly real as possible. And all the while, Jack and Rose remain the focus of the story as they fight for survival and drive the narrative forward.

Before 1997, there had never been a film quite like Titanic, and that’s clearly reflected in its historic box office performance. In the 25 years since its release, the film has made over $2.2 billion internationally – which remains the third-highest lifetime gross ever recorded. In fact, Titanic sat at the #1 position for 12 years before James Cameron overtook his own record with Avatar. There are several theories surrounding why exactly Titanic gathered such insurmountable attention upon release, but whatever the reason, it’s clear that the film has something special. Without Titanic, the number of classic films that simply wouldn’t exist today is countless. James Cameron crafted an experience that needs to be seen to be believed, and that’s exactly why audiences returned to theaters so frequently to immerse themselves in this beautiful tragedy.  

Get it on Apple TV

Titanic is now available to watch on digital and on demand. The film will be re-released globally in theaters on February 10, 2022 in celebration of its 25th anniversary. Find out why Old Rose is important in Titanic.

Titanic: Why “Old Rose” is Important – Loud And Clear Reviews
Why is it important for Titanic ‘s story to be told from Old Rose ‘s point of view? Here’s how the film’s narrative frame improves it.
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