Friday, April 13, 2012

My Heart Will Go On

January 17, 2010, in a blog entry about Avatar, I wrote the following about Titanic:

"OH to have been days-from-16 when Titanic came out.  Better yet, to have been a days-from-16-year-old GIRL!  To this day, I weep for those who were not days-from-16-year-old girls when Titanic came out because those people will never understand the emotional impact that movie could have.

I pined over TitanicAgonized over the perfection and (yes!) cruelty of its love story.  How could Jack have died?  How could Rose have just...just...just let go of him and let him sink to the bottom of the ocean?  He was her soulmate and Billy Zane just didn't understand and why-oh-why was Leonardo DiCaprio not in love with ME?!" 

There's this point in Titanic when Billy Zane, at his villainous worst, peers down at the lifeboat Rose is sitting in and coughs, "I always win, Jack."  And right before he says it, there's a close-up of Leo's profile.  You can see the tan on his slender, slightly-feminine-looking neck.  That tan fascinated me as a days-from-16-year-old.  I would have watched that scene on an endless loop just for that tan.

Years later, when I was old enough to understand that turning a real-life human tragedy into a blockbuster action-film-slash-cheesy-love-story was less art and more mindless entertainment, I decided Titanic had actually been a terrible movie and I was embarrassed I'd ever obsessed over it.  It was about that time that Avatar came out, and suddenly I had all sorts of things to say about James Cameron.

But then, roughly eighteen months after I wrote entry quoted above, my parents were in the process of moving and I found my 2-tape Titanic VHS.  And for the first time in over a decade, I watched it.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  A heady mixture of Bud Light and pervasive nostalgia made the dialogue seem riveting rather than painful, and the years added to my life made Jack's death feel inevitable instead of traumatizing.  I forgave my days-from-16-year-old self for falling in love with this story.  Class warfare, doomed lovers, and a shipwreck?  What's not to love?   

I was genuinely excited, then, about seeing the 3D version, re-released in theaters to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the ship's sinking.  I decided earlier this week that I'd go Friday afternoon (today); when I woke up this morning, even, I was happy because it was Titanic day.

I wonder what it will be like to see in 3D? I thought to myself as I marched into the theater and purchased my ticket.

I hit up the concession stand, went for a last-minute bathroom break (time has done little to dampen the memory of it being a long damned movie), and, with a spring in my step, waltzed into the theater.

Yeah.  It was me and two other women - one around my age, one significantly older - all of us there alone, all of us clearly trying to recapture something from our youth.  I don't know if the oldest occupant in our theater felt self-conscious, but the snicker that the patron of my generation let loose when I walked into the room (which I returned in earnest) indicated that two-thirds of us realized that there was something perhaps just a teensy bit pathetic about what was going on in that theater.

I think what I learned today was that Titanic is best when ten years or more have elapsed since your last viewing (dammit if that dialogue wasn't sounding off again today) and it's also best when viewed either alone or in an audience that isn't comprised entirely of solitary women.

Not that it wasn't enjoyable; it's still a good story and I still have very fond memories of the love I once had for the film itself.  But the 3D didn't add much, the special effects haven't aged nearly as well on a high-def movie screen as they had on my 32-inch television, and so hey, maybe it's time to once again let the memories of this one reign supreme.

The story of the Titanic has fascinated us for a century.  Unfortunately, in the 3D Hollywood version of this tale, Leonardo DiCaprio's neck just doesn't quite do it for me the way it used to...


  1. Ah, this post inspired me to watch it again this week. Not at the movies though, but by using other methods that we shall not mention... (Honestly, my going-to-the-movies-budget was blown on watching th Hunger Games. Twice)

    And what can I say... Well, I was never in love with the film to begin with, but I DID like it when it came out. This time around I just thought a lot about hpw long of a freaking time it took the damned ship to sink. And that Jack says Rose's name A LOT! To the degree it was disturbing.

    But despite that, and with reflections on the class system and human tradgedy (and the fact that "kids today" apparently don't know the Titanic was real) and what not, I did sob A LOT. To the degree it was disturbing.

    (I don't want to think about what that says about my emotional stability...)

    1. I don't know whether I should applaud myself or apologize to you that you were inspired to watch it again. :)

      I totally noticed the same thing about Jack saying Rose's name!! Like, every other word out of his mouth was "Rose." One thing I never understood when I was younger was how much of an "action movie" James Cameron had turned this story into. It seems like the sinking was tragic enough without having to tack on a crazy break-Jack-out-of-his-jail storyline. But whatever...

      Yeah, I've been *horrified* by all the stories about kids today thinking Titanic was just a movie! God help the next generation! But you are wholeheartedly forgiven for crying; I'm pretty sure I cried the last time I watched it. It's just such a sad story! I mean, you have the awful real human tragedy and then to top it off, you've got this sob-worthy doomed love situation. If you allow yourself to get sucked in at all, I feel tears are inevitable.

      (And I sincerely apologize for not getting back to you until now. I was out of town all weekend and fell hopelessly behind on all things internet-related!)

  2. I LOVED watching this again... i fell in love with leo AGAIN, i cried AGAIN.

    I was reminded of the enormity of the event itself seeing it on the big screen again, i dunno but i loved it and i dont regret the $15 i spent to go and see it in 3D

    Ahh Leo....

    1. How did I miss this comment?! THIS is exactly what I felt after watching the VHS a year or so ago!!! If I'd only known that the 3D version was on its way, I would have put off watching it...

      I'm jealous that you got to get swept up in it while watching on the big screen. :D