Evaluating a Movie: Titanic

One of my favorite movies is Titanic, an American epic romance-disaster film which was directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. The film is based on the historic shipwreck of the famous RMS Titanic in 1912, starring actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as two people from two different classes of society, they fell in love on the first voyage of the ill-fated ship.

More than 20 years since the film’s debut, Titanic is still the classic movie that audiences love and take away the tears of many viewers. First released on 1st November, 1997 at the Tokyo International Film Festival and officially released on 20th December, 1997, the movie won a huge success both in sales and expertise. Of the 14 Academy Awards nominated, the film won 11 Oscars, another 115 wins and 80 nominations, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director (Titanic Awards).

Titanic created a significant impression on my mind at the first time I saw it. The aspects that I highly appreciated are tremendously eye-catching stunts and its theme song, My Heart Will Go On. In addition to enormous accomplishments of the two features, they also have some negative consequences.

It is generally agreed that the trait making Titanic become a blockbuster is the attractive stunt, sinking boat with the special effects sequences. The climactic scene is the ship broke in half before it sank and finally plunge to the bottom of the Atlantic. This stunt moved audience tears, panic and painful emotion because they witnessed many deaths and particularly the separation of love couple.

According to Cameron, he wanted to depict it as the terrifyingly chaotic event that it really was (James Cameron’s Titanic). When carrying out the sequence, the actors need to fall down from the deck, which is tilting downward, plunge hundreds of feet and collide with the railings, barriers and propellers. Furthermore, some extremely dangerous scenes are limited by using re-create-people on computer.

Cameron expressed that he wanted to push the limits of the visual effects further with his film, so he suggested that stunts of the film must be shot by a miniature model of a 45-foot ship as if “we were making a commercial for the White Star Line” (Titanic, 1997 film). After that, water, digital smoke, and images of the extras recorded by motion capture were added. In addition, there is a 65-foot long stern model that can break in two separately, and the only miniature model to be used underwater. For scenes shot in the combustion chamber and the engine of the ship, filmmakers composited the engine footage of SS Jeremiah O’Brien with miniature models and actors in front of a blue screen.

Additionally, one of the factors that make up the film’s success is the theme song “Titanic”. It is said that “My heart will go on” is a love symphony which comes with time. Mixed with the lyrics of Will Jennings and Celine Dion’s vocals, the soundtrack was composed by James Horner as a magnificent symphony which makes many hearts sobbing with sweet and passionate aftertaste of love over the years.

Besides the moving music, the song has the grandeur of Celtic folk music in Western Europe. All of them are built on skillful and ingenious vocal techniques. The theme song brings the majestic space of the vast ocean and the image of the legendary ship carrying the desire to conquer the nature. The harmonious melodies and expressive lyrics are intertwined, which has directly influence on the hearing of listeners.

At times, the music is slow, wandering like a boat preparing to leave the boat landing. At other times, the piano sounded like the waves patting the boat. Sometimes, overlapping melodies continue, it conjures up images of fierce waves engulfing all. It is the lyrics and music that make listeners imagine the timeless love between the two characters Jack and Rose. Two hearts losting the way are chasing and looking for love.

Thanks to the successful and emotive performance of the Canadian singer, Celine Dion and melodious music and lyrics, the song was honourably awarded many valuable prizes and nominations at major awards ceremonies, including the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Original Song as well as four Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Song of the Film or Television at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards (Winner 41st Annual GRAMMY Awards 1998).

Moreover, the song became “the biggest hit” in the Dion’s career, and was one of the best-selling singles of all time (selling over 15 million copies) as well as the best-selling single in the world in 1998. “My Heart Will Go On” also receives incredible success in term of commerce with the top rankings in more than 20 countries around the world, including major markets such as Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (My Heart Will Go On).

Despite its enormous triumph in sinking boat stunt and soundtrack, Titanic also has adverse consequences of these two characteristics. The film is considered the most dangerous work that James Cameron has produced. To make an attractive and successful wrecked boat scene, the main actress, Kate Winslet was nearly drowned. The actress criticized that although she had just experienced a near-fatal crash, extremely panic and scared, James Cameron director did not take any action to reassure her. After the film ended, Kate Winslet swore she would never play James Cameron’s films again, unless remuneration was paid three times (Chi Chi).

Furthermore, James Cameron was also criticized because the cost to make this stunt is too expensive, for example $ 7.5 million to building the ship, a US 5,000,000 gallon tank using for submerged subdivision, allowing filmmakers to sink the entire rebuilding ship into the water (Chi Chi). From my opinion, I agree with those criticisms, but without difficulties, the film would not have dramatic and impressive footages.

Simultaneously, the theme song also has some undesirable criticisms. My Heart Will Go On, a famed song in the history of Oscar, was ranked in the list of the ten worst songs by Rolling Stone magazine (Thu Ha). Many people said that My Heart Will Go On was so indescribably boring that they rarely listened again. Personally, this is the best song of all time both in lyrics and music. It appreciably contributed to make the movie a remarkable blockbuster.

In conclusion, “Titanic” deserves to be one of the superlative blockbusters of all time. It has left many emotions in mind of audiences such as joy, sorrow, and regret. Though having some disapproval, the appealing stunts and theme song help the film be brilliantly successful more than ever.

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