FilmSlashTV: ‘Titanic’ in memory, and 3-D

Apr. 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

Burnished by nostalgia into a golden memory, 'Titanic' still glows. (Courtesy Paramount)

Burnished by nostalgia into a golden memory, "Titanic" still glows. (Courtesy Paramount)


R.M.S. Titanic slid into the North Atlantic a century ago today, and it seems at least that long ago that James Cameron’s gigantic movie was released. Seeing it again, with the added filip of 3-D effects, is an interesting experience.

‘Titanic in 3-D’

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The movie itself is as we remember it, a massively entertaining, romantic soap opera that suddenly turns into a scramble for survival. The first half, we project ourselves into it, the latter half we try to Imagine ourselves trying to get out of it. The neatest thing about the filmmaking is the engaging way “Titanic” sucks us into what seems, on the surface, to be a magnetic romance, while underneath, there are dangerous currents of class consciousness and shoals of hubris. (Have I exhausted the metaphors yet? Not bloody likely.)

And then, suddenly, that iceberg rips the safe, stable deck out from beneath the characters. You don’t mess with nature.

There are so many layers of meaning attached to the Titanic tragedy that it is no wonder that it has become a touchstone of 20th-century mythology. Cameron understood this, and yet doesn’t trowel it on. The movie was teased for its simplistic dialogue; I’ve fairly in awe of its economy of expository overlay. The damn thing is more than three hours long, and yet, you don’t want to leave your seat for a second.

It is, simply, a great film, a throwback to classic filmmaking, and more than that, an experience with unusual resonance to the world of today.

“Titanic” is a emotional pop entertainment worthy of serious debate and analysis. These depths are what give the movie such impact, such staying power. And the technical achievement of its creation is so near perfection that it doesn’t scuttle the narrative.

Seeing the film again in a state-of-the-art theater also reminds us of how far we’ve come in just the last decade. When “Titanic” was originally released, it was on reels of film that faded and deteriorated. Today, the digital release ensures a top-notch experience every time.

It’s simply fun once again to see Leonardo DeCaprio’s boyish verve, and Kate Winslet’s initial accension into film goddesshood, plus Billy Zane’s Snidely Whiplash take on a character that’s essentially a Mitt Romney caricature.

In fact, the whole 99 percent/1 percent kerfuffle is oddly relevant in today’s “Titanic.”

Oh, the 3-D; it’s OK. It doesn’t cause headaches like other 3-D movies. Maybe James Cameron should be the only filmmaker allowed to play in three dimensions.
Burl Burlingame is a features reporter at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at and follow him on Twitter.

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