It could have been one of the biggest disaster’s in Hollywood history, ironic considering the subject matter stands as one of the largest tragedies in human history. When filmmaker James Cameron set out to make a sweeping love story epic on the decks of the doomed ocean liner Titanic in the later 1990’s, many set the cinematic visionary up to fail.
After all the scope was beyond comprehension and the production budget had ballooned to the tune of a then unheard of $200 million, forcing two major studios (Paramount and Fox) to split the bill at $100 million apiece to ensure the film could be completed. The pressure was sqaurely on Cameron’s shoulders to deliver and in 1997-1998 he did just that.
After an auspicious start at the box-office, Titanic gained steam week after week and ultimately shattered the all-time North American box-office record holder for the number one position, earning roughly around $600 million total and becoming a worldwide sensation experience (it would eventually be topped by Cameron’s follow-up film Avatar).
It certainly cemented the careers of its two lead stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, while also proving Cameron’s gifts as a filmmaker were much more than the sci-fi/action films he had done previously with The Terminator, The Abyss and True Lies.
The movie went on to win a record-tying 11 Academy Awards in 1998, among them Best Picture and Best Director, for which Cameron would deliver a speech that his critics took as egotistical and conceited, but there was no arguing that the film, much like the mystique of the sinking was going to last in the minds of the public for decades.
And so in April of 2012, the centennial 100th anniversary of the sinking, Cameron re-released his film in a digitally remastered 3D presentation for theaters, and the movie now made it’s long-anticipated high-definition Blu-ray debut after two previous DVD editions over the years.
It’s not surprising that after 15 years since its initial theatrical release, Titanic can still enthrall an audience as a cinematic experience, even in the comforts of home. The film will always be a powerhouse for the sheer force of how it depicts the events of the disaster, an event that has always maintained a fascination in history.
The love story is what ultimately hooks a viewer, in the sense that since these are ficitional characters surrounded by actual people who were on board the ship in a real-life setting, we’re initially unsure of the fate of their relationship because we certainly know what is to come regarding the ship’s voyage.
But by this point, everyone and their cousin has most likely seen Titanic but we still take the journey again and again to learn the valued message of never taking one’s life and time for granted. Titanic’s cast is rather impeccable, filled with gifted actors in the roles of the supporting victims and survivors of the tragedy.
But the production of the film is as much a marvel to behold along with the detailed pedigree of the epic story. From the meticulous set design, to the impressive special effects, Titanic completely lives up to the high-expectations that was thrusted on it from the get-go. And even through some of the repetitive name-calling dialogue (“Jack!” “Rose!”), it’s a beautiful film that rightfully is regarded as one of the all-time greats.
The Blu-ray/DVD Edition
Audiences and fans have been waiting for some time for this film’s Blu-ray release, to have the opportunity to view Cameron’s phenomenal visuals in 1080p HD and the edition does not disappoint. The Blu-ray disc’s picture quality is nothing short of sparkling, revitalizing the film to crystal-like clarity with the water and intricate set/costume details.
The movie was mixed originally in THX sound quality by Skywalker Sound, so the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix scores on every level for a conusmer’s sound system experience. As Rose frantically searches the sinking ship for an imprisoned Jack, you will feel like you’re on the ship as it groans and rattles under the pressure of being submerged.
The haunting and moving music score by James Horner has also never felt more alive than it has in this sound experience and fans can once again listen to previously released three audio commentaries about the film by various cast, crew and James Cameron himself. Discs 2 & 3 in the set feature a good DVD quality standard definition stand-alone version of the film, split into two parts like previous releases.
Disc 4 houses the gargantuan amount of special features, first consisting of the 30 Deleted Scenes, 60 Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes and promotional material from the prestigious DVD edition that was released in 2005. But newly added is “Reflections On Titanic“, where cast, crew and Cameron offer present day reflections on the making of the film, to it’s meteoric success at the box-office, the Oscars (Cameron comments on his infamous speech) and the movie’s new life on 3D – complete with April, 2012 footage of a red-carpet cast reunion in London.
However the crown jewel of new features is undeniably “Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron”, a National Geographic special in which the filmmaker sits down with a panel of experts to go over the updated scientific data of how the ship sank, how the wreck ended up the way it did on the ocean floor and what details in the movie Cameron got wrong after re-examining the sinking again. For anyone who is hardcore about the story of the ship’s demise, this is a must-see.
The 4-disc Blu-ray/DVD edition of Titanic (also available as a 4-disc 3D Blu-ray set) serves as the definitive release that the movie deserves. The film has never looked or sounded better and will knock a few socks of on a home theater system. The set also contains a plethora of information regarding the ship and the production of the film, making it a very high-value purchase for a film/historian buyer. This one comes highly-recommended.