I have seen Titanic over 200 times. This was (mainly) not by choice. I worked at the Titanic Exhibition that was up in Times Square for 8 months and we played it almost every day. Occasionally we alternated between that and the ABC version starring Catherine Zeta-Jones (a trainwreck of a film) and several documentaries. But Titanic made the work day go by faster in that we could count down by where the film was. So I have seen it over 200 times, probably more. And I just went and saw it again in a movie theater where I paid money and wore 3D glasses. I loved every second of it.
The first time I saw Titanic I went with Bethany and a few of our girlfriends. We were dropped off at the movies which was a big deal as a teenager to be dropped off and left alone anywhere. It was the greatest sense of freedom I had ever felt at that point and I know everyone knows what I mean. That sense of no one is watching you or hovering over you and you’re with your friends with money in your pocket and can buy whatever you want and that cute boy over in the corner could possibly talk to you because your dad isn’t standing next to you this time. Though that boy never comes over BUT IT COULD HAVE HAPPENED!
Anyway, with our sense of freedom on our shoulders, we went to see Titanic when it first opened. It may have been opening night but it wasn’t the crazy town sold out wait in line 4 hours situation yet because we got tickets and went in. It was the longest movie I had ever seen in a theater at that point in my life. I don’t remember it feeling long. I remember being 13 and being so in love with Leonardo DiCaprio it hurt. Physically hurt. I ached and yearned for him and honestly thought I was desperately in love with him. Those blue eyes, that hair. My loins are crying out just thinking about it.
I hated Kate Winslet. It’s funny because I love her so much now having met and worked with her and watched her grow on screen since this film. She’s my favorite actress. She is also brilliant in this horribly written epic blockbuster. But at the time, I hated her because she was the love interest. Isn’t that just bizarre? I was so in fake love with this celebrity, I actually despised his co-stars whether they were talented or not. Teenagers.
We loved the movie. We were sobbing by the end, of course. I remember the quiet and serious feeling that crept over the audience when they are in the water and the boat comes back. Thankfully, we were among the first to see the movie so we had no idea about Jack. It’s the second when the music creeps in that took my heart and clenched it tight. I couldn’t breathe and the tears came naturally, streaming down my face, realizing hope was dead, my future husband was dead, and that this whole night really happened. But, James Cameron doesn’t give up on hope. Fuck no. He made Rose get back in that damn water, blow a whistle that would have for sure stuck to her frozen lips, and live a full life.
Now, I have become a Titanic expert. Working at the exhibit has only enhanced the movie and history for me. However, this viewing (among the many others) has made me over analyze so much of the film. The love story, for instance. It’s a brief romance that starts with Jack having the high status and control. He’s unique and rebellious and everything Rose is not so he is incredibly appealing. He shows her adventure and courage and reckless abandonment. Everything she wants to be. When Rose decides to go with him instead of Cal, that’s when I started to notice that Rose can’t really make up her mind and maybe doesn’t love Jack as much as he loves her. She makes a real quick choice to let him be locked up in the hold and stay with Cal when it’s revealed he may be a thief. She knows the ship has been hit and he’ll probably die down there but she forgot she just told him she’s getting off with him like 20 seconds prior and let’s them cart him away without even batting an eye. Like, really? You can see why I hated her. But conflict must happen in every love story and being on a real life ship, there’s only so much Cameron had to work with, I guess.
Then there’s the door. Oh, the door. Watching it now as an adult, it’s not that they both don’t try harder to stay on the floating door but that when it’s at the end, all Rose can mutter is about how cold she is and Jack is saying the most wonderfully romantic things. I know that it’s her telling him they can’t possibly make it and he shouldn’t be saying those things, but she says I love you and that’s it. Where’s the part about his beautiful eyes and incredibly perfect hair?! What about how hot it was to do it in the back of a car on a boat??! I remember the first time and this past time and every time thinking ‘Why doesn’t she say more? Why doesn’t she tell him what she says as an old lady? That he saved her??” I suppose in the moment it didn’t come to her. Still, it’s upsetting. Going back to the door, why doesn’t he try harder to get them both on? He automatically gives up his life for hers. Why? She doesn’t seem THAT great. I think that is the love story. Jack is the love story, not Rose. He saves her life so many times and she seems lost in this cloud of ‘Do I love him enough to give this all up? Yes I do. Wait, do I?” In the boat, out of the boat, in the boat, out of the boat.
Does it piss anyone else off that she marries another guy? I mean, I know life goes on but still, every since I saw this movie for the first time, it angers me that she married another man. I don’t know why. I think I just have always wanted to keep romance pure and forever even if it was two days on a fated ship.
When the movie was over and we were cried out, we got in the car and Our Lady Peace’s “Clumsy” came on. The lyrics go: “I’ll be waving my hand, watching you drown, watching you scream, quiet or loud.” We lost it all over again. We insisted it was fate playing that song but it was probably just 95XXX playing it for the 500th time that hour.
I feel horrid that as a teenager my focus was on the love story. As I got older and watched it more, I started to feel for the other characters more than the lovers. I also learned who every person was and their stories and became attached to the reality of it all instead of the fantasy. I think Titanic is brilliant. Horribly written and, I am about to cause glass to shatter, but they say Jack and Rose every 5 minutes. I swear. That’s most of their lines in the film, saying the other ones names. I’m sorry, I literally just ruined TItanic for you. But it’s a great movie. It’s incredibly researched and executed and cast well. The love story is featured enough for the romantics and the history is there enough for the purists. It captures the horrors and it shares the beauty of what the ship was and what that time period was. You feel like it’s a window into an unforgettable night that none of us can even imagine what it was like to experience but Cameron attempts to show us and I think he succeeds.
I love Titanic and I’m not ashamed of it. I’ve loved it since the beginning. I saw it 8 times in the theater. The second being with my family and we had to get there 3 hours prior and wait to be let into the theater. It was a monster of a hit, as we all know. I realize it was mostly because of the love story but I think it also is because of the allure of the tragedy and the mystery of it all. The fact that the unsinkable ship sank. I don’t think it’ll ever stop tweaking our minds. And Leo and Kate….well, it’s not as epic as Rhett and Scarlet, but it’ll do. It was all I ever wanted was to have someone say to me “You jump, I jump, right?” Well, someone that wasn’t Bethany but she’ll have to do.
“I’m not an idiot, I know how the world works. I’ve got ten bucks in my pocket, I have no-nothing to offer you and I know that. I understand. But I’m too involved now. You jump, I jump remember? I can’t turn away without knowing you’ll be all right… That’s all that I want. They’ve got you trapped, Rose. And you’re gonna die if you don’t break free. Maybe not right away because you’re strong but… sooner or later that fire that I love about you, Rose… that fire’s gonna burn out…”