“Like a great iron Sphinx on the ocean floor, the Titanic faces still toward the West, interrupted forever on her only voyage.” – Roger Ebert
When I was a kid, I had watched Titanic on more times than I care to count or to even admit. It is not the best movie I ever saw, nor is it my favorite. Still, I liked it enough to watch it again and again. Maybe it was Leonardo di Caprio with his dirty blonde locks falling to piercing green eyes as he sketches. Maybe it was Kate Winslet with her vibrant eyes and auburn curly hair. Maybe it was that iconic scene where he draws her, naked, save for that beautiful diamond. Maybe it was their tryst in that car. Maybe it was them both. Maybe it was everything. Maybe it was their love story, suspended by an iceberg in the freezing Atlantic sea, and continued by death. Jack and Rose met and fell in love in the Titanic, they got separated in the Titanic, and they got together again in the Titanic. It was an epic romance.
But there was always something that makes me frown whenever I watch the movie. It would be years later when I find out what it is: it was the script.
I had a huge problem with the script. I did not enjoy the whole “Jack!” “Kate!” “Jack!” “Kate!” line exchange. I have a pathological dislike for scripts requiring calling out lover’s names more than once followed by being reunited in each other’s arms. I found it cheap, and I still find it cheap now. I suspect that it was because of that horrendous script that a lot of my peers commented that Leonardo di Caprio can’t act. (I also entertain the idea that said comment was borne out of the fact that Leonardo di Caprio is a household name, forever attached with the word beautiful, and said peers are mostly boys.) Now we all know that cannot be true. He just didn’t shine in the movie. I blame the script.
But, apart from the script, Titanic transgressed the bounds of technical achievement. (James Cameron has such ambition.) It was a visual excellence at its most heightened. It was camera techniques and editing at their most superb.
Despite the many criticisms Titanic bears, no one can deny that Titanic is iconic. It made household names out of its two stars. It made a millionaire out of its director. It is among my most memorable epic romances. The movie wasn’t kidding when it made Jack Dawson proclaim “I am king of the world!”