This week marks the anniversary of a rather tragic event in history.
It has been almost one hundred years since the Titanic collided with an iceberg the night of April 14, 1912. Just three hours later, around 2:20am on April 15, the boat broke in two and sank into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
A total of 1,514 people lost their lives in what was one of the biggest peacetime maritime disasters in the twentieth century. The wreckage still sits on the bottom of the ocean as a reminder of what happened. There were only 710 survivors of the disaster. The last living survivor of the disaster passed away on May 31, 2009 at the age of 97 (she was a newborn at the time).
Over the last century, the sinking of the Titanic has been well documented and studied by millions of people all over the world. From conspiracy theories to actual investigation of the wreckage in recent years, the Titanic is still widely researched. It has been the subject of countless magazine articles, documentaries, and feature films.
Since today is the Monday Matinee portion of the week, I think you know where this entry is going.
Yes, we’re going to be looking at the movie “Titanic”, which was released in December 1997. The movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, and Billy Zane, was a box office phenomenon. Directed by James Cameron, the movie was nominated for fourteen Academy Awards (winning eleven), and was the first film ever to reach a total gross of one BILLION dollars. In fact, the movie was listed as the highest grossing film ever between 1998 and 2010, the record being broken by another James Cameron film, “Avatar”. Although the film was a fictional depiction of the sinking, Cameron made sure that there were just as many historical accuracies mixed in with the very fictional love story between the main characters.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, movie theatres have re-released the film entirely in 3D, and it’s only fitting that this entry will be in 3D as well.
Oh, but don’t worry. You won’t need to wear those funny looking glasses for this entry. The title of this blog is “The Three Dimensions of Titanic” for a reason. The more I watch the film, the more I realize that there are three main components within the film that make it work. When you take these three dimensions apart, they appear to have absolutely nothing in common. But, link them together, and you have one fantastic, if not doomed, love story that captivated audiences all over the world.
These three dimensions are Jack Dawson (DiCaprio), Rose DeWitt Bukater (Winslet), and the Titanic itself.
Taking the two human characters into the discussion, let’s look at Jack first. Although his talent as an artist was evident, he didn’t really apply himself very much, and ended up drifting as a career choice. Rose, on the other hand, was a seventeen-year-old socialite, living a life of privilege. By hearing those descriptions, Rose and Jack appear to have nothing in common, and had they passed by each other on a city sidewalk, I imagine that neither one would give the other a second glance.
But, here’s where the third dimension comes in to tie Jack and Rose together.
The Titanic’s maiden voyage.
Rose is a first class passenger on the ship along with her mother Ruth, and her fiancé, Caledon Hockley (Zane). However, the audience learns right from the get-go that the only reason that Rose is with Cal is for his money.
Now, before you go and accuse Rose of being nothing more than a gold-digger, consider this. Although Rose’s family gave off the illusion that they were wealthy, in all actuality, they were having huge financial difficulties. And, Cal was a man who came from a wealthy background. Therefore, the solution was simple, according to Ruth. Rose marries Cal, and Cal ends up eradicating any trace of financial troubles within the DeWitt Bukater family.
Cal was looking forward to becoming Rose’s husband. Rose, on the other hand, would have rather flung herself over the side of the boat.
No, seriously, that’s what she was planning on doing to get out of the engagement to a man she did not love.
And she probably would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for that meddling drifter.
Somehow, Jack Dawson happens upon the scene and convinces Rose not to throw her life away. In the commotion, Cal happens upon the scene, and starts to jump to the wrong conclusion, but cleverly, Rose covers for Jack. Telling Cal that she accidentally slipped and that Jack saved her, Cal seems to believe the story. At Rose’s insistence, Cal invites Jack to join them for dinner inside the first class dining room. Although Jack accepts the offer, and starts up a friendship with Rose in the process, Cal does not seem to trust Jack at all. Even Rose’s mother looks down on Jack, thinking that he could never measure up to the man that Cal was.
Still, Rose finds herself strangely attracted to Jack. She even followed Jack down into the third-class cabins where a party was going on. But once Cal and Ruth got wind about what was happening, they intervened. There was no way that Rose was ever going to see Jack again. No way at all.
Of course, a seventeen year old’s logic differs from the logic of an adult. When you’re seventeen, and someone forbids you to do something, doesn’t it make you want to do it MORE? I know that when I was seventeen, I thought in a similar manner.
The more that everyone told Rose to stay away from Jack, the more Rose wanted to be with Jack. And, that persistence would lead up to one of the most memorable scenes in the whole film.
Thus began the courtship of Rose and Jack.
And, in regards to that courtship, Rose wasted no time in telling Jack how she felt. When Jack and Rose arrived back at Rose’s stateroom, she asked Jack to sketch her in the nude. The only thing she would wear was a necklace which was called “The Heart of the Ocean”, an engagement present from Cal. That moment lead to a session of passionate love making between Jack and Rose, and Rose had come to a decision. She would break off the engagement with a man she did not love, and would run off with the man who captured her heart.
If only that damn iceberg didn’t get in the way.
The ship crashed, and the situation is dire. Rose and Jack witness the collision, and Rose immediately gets worried about her mother and Cal. Unfortunately, at that moment, Cal discovers the sketch that Jack made of Rose along with the necklace in his personal safe, and is immediately disgusted and furious. He attempts to frame Jack for stealing “The Heart of the Ocean” by having someone stuff it inside Jack’s coat, and Jack is arrested. When Rose finds out, she frees Jack herself. Somehow, Jack and Rose make it onto the deck where the lifeboats are being deployed, and Cal encourages Rose to get on a lifeboat with the promise that he has made arrangements for both himself and Jack to get off the boat safely.
It turns out that promise was worth less than a penny, as Cal revealed to Jack that he had no intention of helping him get off the boat at all. He was content with leaving Jack to die alone on the boat while he sailed off to safety with Rose in a lifeboat.
And then THIS happens...
Yes. Jack was right. Rose was quite stupid at that moment. As if anyone would willingly come back onto a boat that was doomed from the moment it struck that iceberg. Yet, Rose decided at that moment that she did not want to leave Jack’s side. Whether they got off the boat alive or went down with the ship, Rose wanted Jack by her side, no matter what.
Now, that’s real, undying love. It didn’t matter that they had only known each other for three days or however long it was. Their love for each other was one hundred per cent real. And, the incredibly insecure Cal wasn’t going to stand for it. Somehow, he got his hands on a pistol, and chases Rose and Jack through the first-class section of the boat. Luckily for Jack and Rose, Cal is a lousy shot, and he dejectedly gives up the chase.
Jack and Rose are left on the boat as it splits in two, and as passengers plunge into the ice cold ocean below, Jack and Rose stare death directly in the face, with a future as unstable as a gelatin dessert.
And, I think I’ll leave off there. Most of you have seen the movie before, so you know how it ends, but here are a few cryptic clues.
You may have noticed that I have mentioned Gloria Stuart in the cast of the movie. I’ll reveal that she plays the role of the elderly Rose, so you know that one of the main characters survived. But, what happened to Jack? What happened to Cal? What happened to “The Heart of the Ocean”? I’m sure you know all the answers to these questions already, but for the select few who have never seen this movie, fear not...all of these questions will be answered in the movie’s last few minutes.
So, what can we learn from Jack and Rose’s romance on the doomed ship Titanic? I guess the main one is to follow your heart. It can be argued that this lesson ultimately lead to them being on the boat as it sank into the depths of the ocean, but at that moment, both Jack and Rose had clarity about what they really wanted for the first time in their whole lives. Rose, in particular, had a real eye-opening experience. Instead of dooming herself to a life of misery and unhappiness with someone she didn’t love, she followed her heart to be with someone who loved her for who she was. She became more open, more carefree, and ended up taking more risks. Jack inspired her to be a better person, and I’d like to think that the reverse was true as well.
Fate had brought them together. Jack and Rose would have never met had it not been for the Titanic.
I’ll admit that when I first watched this movie, I often joked about the ending, in particular with the fate of one of the main characters...but watching the movie years later, I think I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for the love story of Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater.
To conclude this entry, I thought that it would be best to end it off with the song that defined this movie. One of 1998’s biggest hits, here’s “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. And, my apologies to the non-Dion fans out there. At least I waited until the end!