Titanic 3D – Why I’m still interested

When James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ was first released, I was five years old. Too young to go to the cinema, my only first-hand experience of the cultural impact the film made was a boy in my class tying his coat around his waist to make a dress, standing with his arms spread wide, crucifixion-style, and belting out ‘My Heart Will Go On’ whilst pretending to be Rose. His friend played the part of Jack, and didn’t look too happy about it; I’ve no idea what became of them and I think that’s probably for the best.

Now I’m able to put aside distant memories of playground gender confusion and decide on the film’s merits, or otherwise, for myself. Fifteen years might have past but there’s something about the film which still fascinates me.

Obviously, Cameron had the benefit of having some pretty special material to work with. The story of Titanic’s maiden voyage is gripping for hundreds of reasons that have nothing to do with his filmmaking genius: the nostalgia for a more glamourous era; the angst of a painfully unfair class system; the incredible engineering of Britain at its best and the fact that there were hundreds of Jacks and hundreds of Roses on that ship, each with their own knife-to-the-heart story.

But a real-life tale, however incredible, doesn’t guarantee a brilliant film. The responsibility for that lies firmly with Cameron, who had the balls to blow millions of dollars of other people’s money, knowing full well that every single penny of it could be lost. In fact, that’s exactly what the studios feared; Cameron had to promise to forfeit his own royalties to minimise the financial damage.

Thankfully, that was one of only very few compromises. Cameron stretched the story out to over three hours, despite knowing that the average viewer wouldn’t last that long. He spent hundreds of millions of dollars making every last detail perfect. And do you know what? It shows.

I’ll admit to being soft when it comes to films. They never make me cry, but I’m perfectly willing to let them take my emotions and have their wicked way with them; I’m not one for being cynical. And with Titanic, the clichéd-but-all-the-better-for-it love story, eye-blistering visuals and ‘Crikey, this actually happened’ perspective makes me want to watch it – all three-and-a-quarter hours of it – again and again.

And I can’t think of many other films which provide a real-life story with such brain-bursting enormity. Sure, intimate little flicks about real people with tragic tales are ten a penny, but few manage to make your jaw drop, your eyes well up and your heart race all at the same time. It’s the combination that works; when that bloke falls from the stern and slams into a propeller you feel every jolt of his every bone – not because it looks impressive, but because you care.

Obviously, I couldn’t care less how many dimensions its in; 3D isn’t great (although the nude scene could be interesting…) and the whole reissue project just means more money for some already well lined pockets (I can be cynical about some things). But in the end, a second chance to take that terrifying journey on that incredible ship with those beautiful people is vastly more precious than the tenner it’ll cost.