Titanic and its sinking have remained in the public eye for decades. There are many novels and documentary researches based on the motives of this tragedy. The first books about the sinking of the ship appeared in just a few months after the accident and tried to present their own versions of what had happened. The witnesses of the tragedy, assistant of Captain Charles Lightoller and passenger Jack Tyler, also wrote the book with their version of the events. The tragedy of Titanic also became the subject of many adventure stories, the most famous of which is Clive Cussler’s novel Raise Titanic (1976). It describes the raising of a fantastic ship during the fight of Soviet and American intelligence agencies of the Cold War. Few well-known books describe the events on the liner, and several of them have even been filmed in numerous motion pictures about Titanic. The most popular among all movies was the film directed by James Cameron with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the lead roles. “Costing $200 million, it is the most expensive film ever made” (Bergfelder & Street 169). This movie not only won several Oscars, but also broke all records on the number of spectators, who came to watch it. The film is not just a cautionary tale – it is a myth, a parable, a metaphor of diseases of human society. It is also a story of faith, courage, self-sacrifice, and, most importantly, love. The aim of Titanic was to show not only the dramatic death of the famous ship, but also its short but magnificent life, beauty, luxury, and optimism. It also depicts hope of the passengers of the ship, as well as reveals the unlimited potential of the human spirit, and such social problems as cross-class discrimination.
Titanic was the ship that defied higher powers. It was the miracle of shipbuilding and the largest vessel of its time. The builders and owners of the giant confidently declared that even God could not sink this ship. However, it went on its maiden voyage and did not return. It was one of the biggest disasters ever known in the history of navigation. As it always happens with the catastrophes, the tragedy of the Titanic occurred due to a number of errors that matched on the same day. Each of these errors separately would entail nothing serious, but all together they led to the loss of the ship.
In addition to a good play of Titanic, it is important to mention the accuracy of many of the events shown on the screen. An interesting aspect of the film was using the name of the main character Jack Dawson, whose tomb was found at the cemetery of the victims of Titanic tragedy. However, it turned out that in fact, J. Dawson was not Jack, but James, and he died on the board during the tragedy.
Amazing special effects and a brilliant constellation of actors breathed into this well-known story something new that makes viewers watch a movie with great interest. Before filming, James Cameron not only made several deep dives to see the wreckage of Titanic, but also carefully studied the book on the most famous catastrophe of the century. The script was written in one breath and it turned out to be very successful. It became a historical disaster movie with many special effects and the exciting lyrical story of a seventeen-year-old girl, who loses interest in her rich groom and becomes gradually fascinated by a young artist of the third class. In the film, the director is trying to show the tragedy of the death of Titanic in the smallest details, describing every feature of the disaster. Emphasizing the unimaginable horror, he shows the love of two young hearts.
The acquaintance of heroes occurs under unusual circumstances. Rose is trying to jump into the ocean from the stern of the ship. It was the first time when they came into a contract, which became the basis of their relationships. They remembered it even in the last moments of their love: “You jump – I jump”.
Actors’ play in the film deserves a very high praise. Leo DiCaprio, as Jack, showed his best, thus this role of his is the most famous. Kate Winslet as Rose also brilliantly coped with her role, demonstrating an excellent acting. The timing of her character is longer in the comparison with Jack’s one. Moreover, her character is deeper, more complex and multi-faceted, which resulted in a completely fair nomination for a gilded statuette. Billy Zane is also good in the film. Definitely, this is his best role. His acting as Cal Hockley is very convincing: nasty and slimy, greedy and disgusting, sneaky, arrogant and extremely selfish type, which does not have heart and soul. Gloria Stuart as old Rose, who was 87 years old at the time of the film, masterfully played a secondary, but a brilliant role.
The idea of love on the Ship of Dreams was taken as the basis of the film. Gradually opening it, the movie gives the viewer the opportunity to realize that it is necessary to live every day of one’s life, not to lose time in vain, because life is so short and can end at any moment. Jack understands it and helps Rose, a girl, for whom he sacrificed his life, to realize this fact. The director does not shows this in the literal sense. Throughout the film, the hero inspires faith that will save Rose in the end. He could have been saved, however, he dies thinking about the girl. If he had not violated their contract, taking Rose’s promise to live, Rose would have sunk to the ocean bottom with him.
Overconfidence of the liner creator, who did not preclude the tragedy, resulted in the absence of boats and led to the needless deaths of several hundred people. He understands his fault and meets a worthy death, remaining in the main living room of the ship, bitterly regretting that he could not create a more robust and beautiful ship than Titanic. In addition, the captain also does not leave the liner. At the last moment, he returns to the wheelhouse and meets death from surging water through broken windows. The captain, as well as the creator shared the fate of people, who challenged the forces of nature.
Despite the rather simple and unsophisticated script, the director showed not only beautiful and fascinating story of forbidden love but also one of the most terrible and spectacular disasters of the 20th century. Cameron also revealed the problem of cross-class discrimination, the utter falsity and hypocrisy, arrogance and meanness, stupidity and virtually complete incapacity. He also showed spiritual emptiness that was hidden by shiny tinsel and external trappings of prosperity of the so-called high class.
On its background, the passengers of the third class are lively and sincere people, who know how to feel, love, experience, give joy, and do it selflessly and wholeheartedly. Rich people think that they are gods, and others are an empty space. In contrast, the poor have got used to the fact that the society does not perceive them as people. They enjoy every moment and do not hesitate to talk about their poverty. Being separated during the journey to the first, second and third classes, rich and poor, old and young, men and women, they divide into survivors and victims on the last night. The main focus of the film is put on the conflict between the forces of oppression and the desire for freedom (Bergfelder & Street 170). The narrative depicts the protagonist’s original lack of freedom and concluding liberation.
Technical perfection of the picture is done on an inaccessible and transcendent level. “Under Cameron’s direction, every aspect of the film works toward a shared, singular goal” (Kafoury). The film deserved to take all the technical nominations, including visual effects, sound editing, and the work of the artist and costume designer. Special attention should be paid to camera work, perfect fitting, excellent sound, and incredibly beautiful and dramatic soundtrack by James Horner.
Bergfelder and Street emphasize that “a lot of efforts was put into giving the audience a sense of the physical reality of the ship, its majestic size, its luxurious décor and elaborate fittings” (164). A gorgeous, emphasizing musical accompaniment of the composer and conductor James Horner helps the director to bring the film to the audience, show all the most important details, not to miss a single particle. It is especially felt when listening to the Hymn to the sea when watching the ocean filled with countless dead people, who could not wait for the salvation. At this moment, the viewer realizes what a tragedy to the whole mankind was the destruction of Titanic. The crowning song of the film is soulful composition My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion.
Despite the end of the 1990s, the picture is filmed using models of various scale, live people and scenery, while a very small part is assigned to the computer graphics. The film not only perfectly recreates the design of the ship and the detailed study of all its parts, but also passes the atmosphere of the beginning of the 20th century.
The ship itself is the main symbol of the movie. The liner represents the life in a smaller format. During the life crisis, human nature is manifested. During the collapse of Titanic, the audience sees the true essence of every human being. For example, Cal reveals his true personality when using a small child in order to save his own skin. In contrast, Jack and Rose show the power of love. The most powerful and stunning moment is when Rose, being already in the saving boat, jumps back to the ship and runs towards the only person, who loved and appreciated her. The death of a huge ship breaks into thousands of vast human dramas. It represents a kaleidoscope of vices: meanness, pettiness, cowardice, greed, cruelty, malice. Nevertheless, there is also bunch of the best human qualities such as courage, dedication, loyalty, honor, kindness, and love.
Titanic becomes a living being that perishes with people in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The water becomes a powerful enemy, to which a wounded ship cannot resist. The agony of the sinking liner on the background of dying people enhances the emotional impact of the tragedy, a disaster that takes a truly universal scale. Glittering stars on a dark sky remain indifferent to human bodies and the ship. In their eternity, this tragedy is only a small flash that freezes under a crust of ice. Gradually fading lights of a sinking giant means fading lives of those, who could not escape on the boats.
The picture of Cameron compounds all the ingredients of the film: the historical facts, a great love story, a huge sweep of filming, stunning setting, and a perfect work of designers and artists directors. The tragedy of the death of Titanic is enhanced by Jack’s death. It seems as if he was still alive, the audience would not apprehend this disaster so sharply. Due to the professionalism and talent of James Cameron and the magnificent constellation of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, modern people can feel the full horror of the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century.