Titanic (1997 movie)

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Template:Infobox Movie Titanic is a 1997 dramatic movie released by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. The bulk of the plot is set aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic during her fateful maiden voyage in 1912. The movie won 11 Academy Awards on March 23, 1998 including best picture of 1997. As of 2005, Titanic has the highest box office take in movie history. The 1997 film should not be confused with the Titanic movie made in 1953.


Making the film

The film was directed by James Cameron and starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Kathy Bates, Eric Braeden, David Warner, Danny Nucci, Gloria Stuart, Victor Garber, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Bernard Fox, Ioan Gruffudd, Suzy Amis and Bill Paxton.

When this epic disaster film was not finished in time for its scheduled July 1997 release date, it sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood: studio execs began wondering if they might have another Heaven's Gate on their hands. The two releasing studios, 20th Century Fox (which handled the international distribution and actually had movie rights to the Titanic name) and Paramount Pictures (which had the U.S. rights) panicked. By the middle of 1997 Titanic had become the most costly film ever made (its reported cost hovered in the $200 million range) and the bills were still coming in. When director James Cameron finally delivered the film to Paramount, it ran over 3 hours and it was anyone's guess whether he would ever work in Hollywood again. But Cameron stood his ground and threatened edit-happy studio executives with the message: "You will cut my film over my dead body."

Moved to a crowded release date of December 19, 1997, the film opened with little promotion, but brought in a weak $28 million in ticket sales for the weekend. Within a week the gross tripled. By New Year's Day, the film had hit $100 million and showed no sign of slowing down. It held a virtual lock on first place at the box office for nearly four months and would become the highest grossing film of all-time with more than $1.8 billion in ticket sales worldwide.

Cameron, who fought tooth and nail to finish the film, was rewarded with an Academy Award for Best Director.

Plot summary

Missing image
Jack and Rose prepare to kiss on the bow of the ship.

It is 1996, and a treasure hunter and his team explore the wreck of the RMS Titanic in their submersible. A safe is brought to the surface and is opened. It contains, not the fabled treasure the adventurers had hoped for, but only papers. One of them is a nude pencil portrait dated April 14, 1912, and signed "JD". It shows a beautiful young girl reclining with casual modesty on a couch. On a necklace around her neck is the diamond they seek: The Heart of the Ocean.

Rose DeWitt Bukater, an ancient but still lively woman of 101 years, watches a CNN report of the treasure hunt and sees the nude portrait. She phones the treasure hunter Brock Lovett and informs him that she knows of the diamond, the Heart of the Ocean, and also the identity of the beautiful young girl in the portrait: "Oh yes. The woman in the picture is me." Rose, accompanied by her granddaughter, flies out to the recovery site and proceeds to tell the treasure hunters of her experiences on the Titanic.

Rose, just 17 years old in April of 1912, boards the ship with the upper-class passengers with her mother and her fiance, Caledon Hockley. Rose clearly does not feel very much for Caledon, but her mother pushes for the marriage for financial security, to maintain their current lavish lifestyle and bolster their social cachet among Philadelphia elite. Meanwhile, a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson wins third-class tickets to the ship in a poker game.

Missing image
Rose posing for Jack as he draws a picture of her. She wears only the necklace containing the Heart of the Ocean.

Rose is so unhappy about her forced engagement, as well as her endlessly shallow life, that she attempts to kill herself by jumping off the back of the ship. Jack sees her and intervenes to prevent her suicide. Rose's company finds the two and Caledon reluctantly invites Jack to dine with their party the following evening in the first-class dining saloon as a thank you. In the meantime, Rose and Jack soon strike up a tentative friendship as he shares tales of his adventures in traveling and she expresses her own hopes, and he shows her his sketchbook of artwork. Their bond deepens when they later ditch the first-class formal dinner party for a much livelier gathering belowdecks in third-class.

Jack is clearly falling in love with Rose, but Rose is inclined to ignore their growing affection due to her engagement and their different social standings. But eventually she decides to throw caution to the wind and offer her heart to Jack. Rose asks Jack to sketch her wearing nothing but the Heart of the Ocean diamond, the same portrait the treasure hunters will find 84 years later. They later consummate their relationship in the backseat of a car in one of the ship's cargo holds.

In the meantime, Captain Edward J. Smith and his crew have been seemingly ignoring many warnings about upcoming ice fields in the ship's path, and the Titanic maintains the high speed suggested by White Star Line managing director J. Bruce Ismay even as the ship heads into the night. On the night of April 14, 1912, the two lookouts see an iceberg directly in the Titanic's path. Despite the many efforts of the crew and engineers, the ship strikes the massive berg, flooding the lower compartments past their "unsinkable" capacity and causing the ship to begin its unstoppable descent to disaster.

Caledon discovers the relationship between Jack and Rose and gets even by framing Jack for stealing his diamond. Even though she has the chance to escape the sinking ship early on with her mother, Rose runs away from Caledon -- and her chance at getting into a lifeboat -- to find Jack. She frees Jack and they try desperately to make their way back above decks to escape the rapidly sinking ship. They find many obstacles, including locked gates that are used to keep the third-class passengers from reaching the upper decks to safety, as well as Caledon's violent temper that forces them back to the lower decks. They finally make their way to the top deck, but the lifeboats are gone and they, along with hundreds of terrified passengers, have no choice but to try to stay on the ship for as long as possible before the titan sinks completely into the water. The bow of the ship sinks deeper and deeper until the pressure on the hull causes the ship to split completely in half, before the two halves finally go under at 2:20 AM on April 15.

Rose and Jack stick together and wait with the hundreds of other passengers thrashing helplessly in the water, shouting desperately for those in lifeboats to row back and rescue them. By the time one of the officers decides to row back and help those in need, almost all of the passengers have died of hypothermia in the freezing Atlantic. Rose is heartbroken to realize that Jack has succumbed, as well. She bids him goodbye, then manages to get the lifeboat's attention to come back and rescue her. The survivors in the lifeboats wait for hours until the RMS Carpathia, the closest ship to answer and heed the Titanic's radio distress signals, arrives to save them. Upon arrival at New York, Rose discovers she still has the Heart of the Ocean tucked into the pocket of Caledon's coat.

As an old woman in 1996, Rose now goes onto the deck of the salvage ship and throws the Heart of the Ocean into the ocean where Jack died.

Back in Rose's room we see pictures of her life's achievements, including a photograph of her riding a horse at the Santa Monica Pier, just as she and Jack had planned to do together. She lies still in her bed, possibly asleep, but more likely something else. Underwater, the Titanic looms out of the darkness and everything turns new again. We follow the corridors to the dining room. A young gentleman opens the doors to the Grand Staircase, where we find all those who died on the ship all those years ago smile in greeting. At the top of the staircase, Jack turns and smiles at Rose, a young girl of 17 again, smiling back as he helps her up the last few steps. They kiss as the crowd applauds at the couple, now together forever.

Historical inaccuracies

There are some factual inaccuracies in the script: for example, the designer, Thomas Andrews, claims the ship to be built of iron in the film whereas she was actually built of steel. The "romantic" story is improbable as class distinction at the time meant complete class segregation except during the Sunday morning service in the first class dining saloon (which conversely is shown in the film as segregated). Some contend that the film ended up with anti-British elements, portraying the British officers and crew as unethical and the Americans as heroic.

The 1958 William MacQuitty and Roy Ward Baker film A Night to Remember starring Kenneth More as Second Officer Charles Lightoller is considered by some to be a more historically accurate film, praised for its documentary-style quality. The film was made in 1958 and at that point it was believed that the ship sank as a whole, and the film's sinking is depicted thus.

The film was criticised for its portrayal of a historical character, the ship's First Officer, William McMaster Murdoch [1] (http://www.titanic-titanic.com/titanic%20memorial%20william%20murdoch.shtml) [2] (http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=00045O). In his home town of Dalbeattie in Scotland there is a memorial to his heroism and a charitable prize has been established in his name. In the film he is portrayed as taking a bribe, shooting passengers dead and finally shooting himself. 20th Century Fox admitted that the baseless slurs on his character were included only as story decisions, and contributed $8,000 to the prize fund.

Another aspect of the film, the way in which the third–class passengers were completely fenced in below decks, has been described as a myth. There is controversy on this point. It is true that lower percentage of third class passengers survived, but that could be simply because they had farther to go to get to the lifeboats.


Cameron originally intended Enya to compose the music, but after she declined, he approached James Horner. Their relations were cold after their first cooperation in Aliens, but the soundtrack of Braveheart made Cameron overlook it. Horner composed the soundtrack having in mind Enya's style.

Cline Dion, who was no stranger to movie songs in the 1990s, sang "My Heart Will Go On", the film's signature song written by James Horner and Will Jennings. At first, Cameron did not want a song sung over the film's credits, but Horner disagreed, and without telling Cameron, went ahead and wrote one anyway, and recorded Dion singing it. Cameron changed his mind when Horner presented what he proposed and the song won a Best Original Song Oscar. The song was also a hit worldwide, going to the top of the pop charts around the world, another stellar financial success of its own.

U.S. awards

Titanic won Oscars in just about every category except for the acting and screenplay categories. Titanic was nominated in 14 categories and won 11, being the second movie to win that number (the first was Ben-Hur). It was at the time also the only movie of which both two people playing the same person (Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart as Rose and Old Rose) were nominated (remarkably, the second film to be so nominated, Iris, also starred Winslet):

  1. Art direction — Art Direction: Peter Lamont; Set Decoration: Michael Ford
  2. CinematographyRussell Carpenter
  3. Costume DesignDeborah L. Scott
  4. DirectionJames Cameron
  5. Film EditingConrad Buff, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris
  6. Music (Original Dramatic Score)James Horner
  7. Music (Original Song) — "My Heart Will Go On," music by James Horner; lyric by Will Jennings
  8. Best PictureJames Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
  9. SoundGary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers, Mark Ulano
  10. Sound Effects EditingTom Bellfort, Christopher Boyes
  11. Visual EffectsRobert Legato, Mark Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher, Michael Kanfer

It also received the following nominations:

  1. Best Actress in a Leading RoleKate Winslet
  2. Best Actress in a Supporting RoleGloria Stuart
  3. Best MakeupTina Earnshaw, Greg Cannom, Simon Thompson

Box Office

When corrected for inflation, the U.S. domestic gross is actually the sixth highest of all time, immediately behind The Ten Commandments (The Movie Times (http://www.the-movie-times.com/thrsdir/alltime.mv?adjusted+ByAG)). Similar figures for the global box office are not readily available, but the international box office grew in significance for Hollywood movies in the 20 years between Star Wars and Titanic, and it is at least plausible that its worldwide gross of $1.8 billion is the largest all time even if inflation were accounted for.

It differs from most films released since the late 1980s in that it took fifteen weeks for its weekly gross to drop by 50%. Typically films drop by about 40% a week.

External links


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