I am, it may surprise you, an enormous fan of the movie Titanic. I saw it in the theater for the first time in college, drove home for Christmas break, and took my Dad to see it (at a terrible theater in Dedham, MA, that deserved to be demolished. . . and was). Though I’ve seen snippets on cable recently, I haven’t sat through the whole movie since it came out on VHS.
You know what, it holds up. A decade on and I still enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because I was so into Titanic when I was a kid. When Bob Ballard found the wreck (after hunting for sunk nuclear submarines, it turns out) we studied it in school for a week.
As with anything successful, there are armies of haters who love to trash this movie, and many have valid criticism. It’s true, Cameron can’t write dialog to save his life. For instance, here is all 3 hours and 15 minutes of dialog:
“Rose. Jack. Rose? Jack? ROSE. JACK. ROSE!!!! JACK!!!! ROSE!!!! JACK!!!! Rose. . . Jack. . .”
But it all works. It works as movie spectacle. A grand tale told by a master craftsman, the likes of which we’ll never see again.
That, perhaps, is what saddens me about Titanic. It is arguably the last real colossal movie. The rise of CG has become a crutch for filmmakers. Never again will someone build a set the size of Titanic. Remember, he actually built that thing. The cost and simplicity of CG means never again will we ever see something that real on screen. I don’t care how good CG has gotten, when you’re trying to create something that people have a real-world reference, it just doesn’t look real.
I’m not saying CG doesn’t have its place — the Lord of the Rings movies used it to brilliant effect. But the ease that CG brings, breeds laziness. And lazy filmmaking never turns out well. I cite, for proof, the fact that George Lucas hasn’t made a decent movie in 30 years.
So I’m sad that the era of truly epic filmmaking (filmmaking, mind you, not epic films) has gone, though what a way to go. A set like no other, a scale like no other, and love story like, well, ok the love story was trite, but who cares, it worked. While not necessarily on any of my Top 10 movie lists, it is one of the greatest movies of all time, and will always have a place in my heart.
Speaking of which, I still positively loathe that insipid song.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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