James Cameron’s Titanic is one of the most successful movies of all time, and I have no problem saying that it’s also one of the most beloved movies ever made. For me, Titanic is an immediate classic. Not only did the 1997 film score itself 11 Oscars wins — including Best Picture — and three other nominations, but it also managed to help launch the careers of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. While the facts of the movie versus the real life event can be argued, that doesn’t stop me from loving the overall experience of the film.
Titanic was a major pop-culture event, one that made people rich and famous, then minted money off their fame and riches. Leonardo DiCaprio, the baby-faced 23-year-old who played the stowaway lothario Jack Dawson, transformed overnight into the world’s biggest heartthrob; Titanic may have sparked Leo mania, but it also benefitted from it, hundreds of fan sites keeping the movie’s flame lit, to say nothing of the entertainment magazines that sold copies and movie tickets by sticking DiCaprio and his Oscar-nominated co-star, Kate Winslet, on the cover. There was also “My Heart Will Go On,” the soaring ballad written by composer James Horner and performed by Céline Dion. It would become not just the biggest hit of Dion’s career, but also one of the best-selling singles of all time, and its constant rotation on the radio functioned like a siren call, drawing returning fans and first-timers to the film.
Visually, it’s the closest thing modern cinema has to a masterpiece. The costumes! The ship! The sheer scale of everything! Even watching two decades on – when Mr Cameron has moved on to his blue-skinned humanoids – the special effects are still spectacular. It’s an utterly immersive experience, from the below-deck dance party to the moment the “unsinkable” ship slips beneath the surface of the Atlantic (does anyone else actually hold their breath at that part?).
Every time I watch Titanic, I walk away with the idea that love does exist. If a couple as odd, unexpected, and quirky as Jack and Rose can fall in love, then anyone has a chance. Titanic exhibits hopelessness (obviously), but there is also hopefulness. There is hope that love exists, love can win, and that sometimes love does not come in the shape or form that you were expecting. And just because someone dies, that does not discredit the love that they had here on earth. We all know that the movie ends with Jack’s demise, but that does not mean that their love didn’t exist. It was real, it was wonderful, and it was pure.
For some people, Titanic will always be that annoying and clichéd chick flick, but to me, it’s the story that shaped my childhood. From my fascination with the actual historical event, to my undying love affair with Jack Dawson and Rose Dewitt Bukater, Titanic will always be in my heart, and I have no intention of “letting go” anytime soon.
Are death row movies a thing? If they were, the last film I would want to watch before I died would be Titanic.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.