Titanic (1997)

reviewed by
Philippe de Saussure

- "Can you imagine ? 200 millions !" - "What a beautiful romance !" - "...class consciousness..." (said a european critic on http://www.webdo.ch/cineweb/titanic.html)

And though... Cameron tried hard : he shot his little "Metropolis" in the engine room (including the ambiguity of the social connotation), he evoked the working class in the lower stories (no rudeness, don't be afraid), he shot the powerful scene of the life-boat slowly moving past the frozen corpses... Several moments get close to good movie-making in his "Titanic".

And now, your opinion ! You meet a director who introduces a movie in which :

1) he uses for the 100'00th time a romance between the rich girl and the poor boy (ok, so far !), without any intention to renew it; 2) the deceived fiancÚ is evil (who would dare betray a gentle person !), and plays the complete evil repertoire (conceited, then miserly, then indifferent, then violent, then cruel, then cowardly, etc. - no hitches); 3) implausible details abound (why not !), only to make the narrative frame more readable (example : all the lights remain on even when the ship is half-sunk, making it so much easier to shoot the lovers swimming 30 minutes in ice-cold water); 4) the evil characters all have a british accent, whereas the "good ones", like the handsome proletarian (but clean, and artist !) or the down-to-earth, friendly milionnaire have an all-american speaking...

Do you buy or not ?

- "Why, this is Hollywood filmmaking, but... so beautiful !" - "A great movie may lack of taste now and then, the greatness is not altered..."

The lovers are locked in a tender embrace, on the tip of the bow, across the wind, in front of the setting sun... the scene is PERFECT. But... maybe the audience will be frustrated if no more is disclosed ? So : the girl then offers her nudity to the eyes and the pencil of her lover (remember this french movie with Emmanuelle Beart ?). But... will the audience really understand ? Thus we will not get away without the final, clear-cut scene of lovemaking in a car ! Fortunately Cameron remembered to use a nice and shiny old-timer instead of the usual Chevy !

Why should we forgive the taste flaws ? Did Kubrick or Orson Welles indulge in any ? While he was shooting "Titanic", Cameron probably sensed the presence of a masterpiece, snooping around outside the studio. But masterpieces are so elusive, particularly when you must make absolutely sure that you will pay back the celebrated 200 millions, and that you CANNOT afford to be disliked !

Philippe de Saussure - Boston

Clumsily translated from the french - obviously reflects a european opinion. Thank you for sending you comments.

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