There was enough space on that floating plank.
Titanic completes 20 years and the fan theories, jokes and the relentless hope that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio will declare their undying love for each other (#relationship goals), none of this has stopped. At one point, director James Cameron even explained, “Actually it’s not a question of room, it’s a question of buoyancy,” when pursued by the question why was Jack not on the raft? One of the latest theories that have emerged is that Jack and Rose both could not have survived because Jack never existed but was only a figment of Rose’s imagination. Jack is actually Rose’s inner strength that helps her survive a mental breakdown. Titanic, the film that won 11 Oscars still still manages to stir up conversations and debates.
Titanic had a big influence on the Indian audience as well. The Silverscreen team looks back at what impact this iconic film had on them.
For the people in the south Indian village where I grew up, Titanic was that ‘ingleesh’ film that featured the nude scene of a White woman named Kate Winslet. The middle-class families would rent out a video cassette of the film,and while watching it on a VCP set in the family living room, would carefully ‘fast-forward’ the famous portrait sketching scene, in order to avoid a moral shock. I was a teenager when I first watched the legendary ship-wreck saga. The film looked nothing like the Malayalam films I was used to watching. The setting looked majestic, the actors more adventurous than anyone I had seen on screen till then. Kate Winslet seemed ethereally beautiful. DiCaprio, not so much. I was mighty impressed by their life on the ship — all those games, dance parties, and the wind on the face shots. Coming from a region where winter means a temperature of at least 25 degree Celsius, it was hard for me to imagine that a piece of ice could break a giant ship. One scene from Titanic that stayed with me for a long time is the suicide of the Captain. It was deeply moving — how the man watches the chaos, and retreats to his room in silence. Titanic, for me, is in those horrifying final moments of nameless people. The love story of Jack and Rose took a backseat.
Subha J Rao
The year was 1997. I’d been married for less than six months, and all the movies we’d seen as a couple till then were either full-on masala films, the rare festival circuit creation or a fiery Mrityudand. None of these exactly qualified as romantic fare, something the mush queen in me craved.
And then, towards the end of the year, as winter set in New Delhi, arrived a movie that warmed one’s heart. We watched it in Satyam, Patel Nagar (now an INOX screen), whose tagline read something to the effect of Romance, Action, Comedy, Popcorn.
Yes, Titanic was a tragedy, but there was so much of life and love in it to keep you going. The chemistry between Jack and Rose, the spunk of the senior Rose, the grandeur of the Titanic, the pride of those who built her, the dignity of the captain who chooses to go down with his ship, the musicians who play on till the waves consume them…what was not to like?
It was one of those movies that you watched, little knowing its budget (Wikipedia reminds you it is 200 million dollars), because it was such a natural-looking film — sumptuous frames when the screenplay demanded them, and frugal ones bursting with human bonding too.
Years later, you still smile at the same scenes, and tear up at certain others. When Rose sends the Heart of the Ocean back to where it belongs, you chuckle with her. Your heart soars when Jack and Rose seem to have a possible future, crushes when Jack’s heart is stilled by the cold waters, and then you smile again when you see that Rose went on to live a life that Jack would have approved of.
More than love and loss, Titanic was about learning to love again, and living.
When James Cameron’s Titanic came out, I was a happy four-year-old kid blissfully unaware of why this film was so popular or who Leonardo DiCaprio was. This continued for the next 12 years, when all of 16, Titanic came back to life and I finally decided to watch it. It was embarrassing enough that most of my friends called it their favourite romantic film by the age of 10 while it took me six more years to devote more than two hours to watch it. Sure, it was romantic, I guess. I wasn’t an insightful teenager back then, but there was perhaps a moment that really choked me up. The ship had three musicians who continued playing music while there was mayhem all around them.
“Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight,” one of the musician said to his colleagues, just when the ship continued to break into pieces and people ran helter-skelter trying to save their lives. The musicians knew it was their end and there was nothing they could do except do the one they thing they love for one last time. If that isn’t romance, then I don’t know what is.
Many of my friends with whom I watched the film were in awe of the filmmaking and the visual effects. But those extravagant visuals are not the thing that strikes me first when I think of Titanic. The everlasting love story of Jack and Rose was the thing that has left a long lasting impression on my mind when I watched it in theatre in Chennai nearly two decades ago. I never wanted Jack to die. I left the theatre unconvinced, dissatisfied and unhappy. If by any chance Hollywood has plans to make remake Titanic, I want Jack to be alive!
Titanic released when I was in Class 10. Our school decided to take us all to go see the film, at a small theatre. The school is famous for being highly uppity, upper-caste, upper-class snob and therefore rather — shall we say — conservative and puritanical in its behaviour. While boys and girls weren’t entirely separated and segregated, there was a lot of frowning upon of romance, infatuation and the like. So why a school like that would take us to a film like Titanic is a sort of mystery. But there it is.
Around 300 of us and 10 teachers — mostly English language teachers, and one or two others, and the school’s “Academic Supervisor” all trudged over to the theatre late evening one Friday, and filed in to our seats. We weren’t sure what to expect. We all knew the bare-bone facts of the historical Titanic, and some of the boys and some of the girls had heard rumours of the film.
At first, we were all awed by the film’s ship — the sets, the filming, and the start of the romance between Jack and Rose. This soon gave way to giggling and whispered jokes, sneers and high fives among some of them when it became obvious that Kate Winslet was going to be nude. However, much to the relief (and obvious relief) of our teachers, some of whom where sweating at the prospect of trying to control 300 teenagers in a small theatre at night, the famous Jack drawing Rose scene was cut, and all we saw was the finished sketch, which Rose puts into the safe along with the diamond jewellery.
More giggling and below-the-breath comments about the sex scene that followed, which was also cut, but the hand on the car window was a good enough visual for us all, was soon replaced by the awe and wonder at the iceberg collision and the rending of Titanic in two and the rest of the film.
I remember a lot of us hated the old woman character – the aged Rose. But I now think she’s one of the most adorable women in film.
I’d first read the story of Titanic in my English textbook in Class 2. A few years later, watching the movie at a theatre in Chennai, amidst family, I’d wonder at the romance in the film. Back in 1997, the whole theatre – one of the Sathyam screens or Udhayam, don’t quite remember which – was filled with what you’d call the ‘family audience’. The adults had all innocently assumed that the film would just be about a shipwreck – which it was, but none of them had anticipated the …intense romance. The discomfort was obvious even though the nude scenes and the one where they have sex were all heavily edited. I would get to know of their existence only much later.
I was in Class 12 when Titanic released, and watched the film with a bunch of friends. Back then, we loved James Bond and Jackie Chan movies. Titanic was different; I remember being a little bored when Rose began her narration, but was soon caught up in the tale as the ship went under. I assumed both of them would escape unscathed, though. I’d perhaps watched the film seven to eight times with friends, but we would always walk out during the climax. It was just too sad.