Unsinkable

Apr. 7th, 2012 03:18 am
bobthemole: (Default)
[personal profile] bobthemole
There's still a bit of stigma attached to admitting that one likes Titanic. Leonardo DiCaprio entire career has been built on establishing himself as a Serious Thespian instead of the Justin Beiber of the mid-90s. No one sings "My Heart Will Go On" except under the most ironic of circumstances.

But for one moment in timeTitanic was the biggest thing on the planet. No English movie has ever been as big in Pakistan (My 80 yr old grandfather heard the hype and wanted to see it), and I don't think the phenomenon was any smaller elsewhere. Little wonder - the movie was about the biggest man-made vessel of its time, the grandeur and hubris of the late colonial period brought low by implacable Nature. Throw in a pair of star-crossed lovers, craft every scene to wrench at the heart-strings, then dial everything up to eleven. There is no room for smallness.

Titanic is back on the big screen today, in full 3D glory. I am fifteen years older than I was when I last watched it. The wild impetuous love between Jack and Rose no longer makes sense to me (though I give the actors credit, Winslet and DiCaprio worked miracles to make them credible). The class dynamics appear simplistic. The idiot villain makes me face-palm. But the movie still cast a deeper spell on me today than anything I've watched in recent memory. Even as the ship barreled to its doom, even with every kind of foreknowledge, I was on the edge of my seat hoping Please, God, let them miss the iceberg this time and the collision shook me along with everyone else.

Titanic is overblown and sentimental and as much as mark of its maker's hubris as the original ship, but boy is it good at what it sets out to do. It doesn't even try for subtle. It just clubs you over the head until the catharsis spills out like cerebral fluid. It appeals to your inner 15-year-old. And that's how it can draw you back into the theater a decade and a half later when you have disposable income and an overpowering nostalgia for a simpler pre-9-11 world. There's a reason why no one in the theater was younger than 23, and why people came out singing "My Heart Will Go On", softly but unapologetically.

No one would have remembered the movie if it were a quiet intimate period piece like, say, The English Patient.

No one would remember a ship that didn't sink.
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