I’ve grown up a romanticist; much to the dismay of liberal, yet conventional parents and the ridicule of a boisterous bunch of friends. But fascination with expression of thought, art and nature came to me from a very young age.
Like most people my generation, I watched the classic love story of Jack Dawson & Rose DeWitt Bukater (yes, that was her full name) aboard the ship that cannot sink for the first time, at a very young age. At that time, I was too young and carefree to understand the bearings of a tale that moved millions to tears. Over years, as I watched the movie on repeated occasions, I started understanding its appeal to those hopelessly in love with the idea of being in love. Over time, my attitude towards it changed from awestruck to bemused to eventual contempt.
There’re several things about the majestic classic that moved and changed so many lives, but I shan’t speak of those, because they have been accounted for and retold countless times. Instead, I will dedicate this post to a few things in the movie that spoiled the brilliant tale for me (at no small risk of drawing severe backlash):
1. The Excessive Cheese
I’ve watched, read and witnessed several love stories, been moved by many of them and had my convictions shaken miserably by some too. Titanic however, was a disappointment in contrast by the dramatized overdose of cheese. I’m sorry, but I really like to reserve my cheese for my pasta. Some of the best love stories to have touched me, have been between simple, normal people; without the added drama created by cultural differences, social classes, religion and artistic magnificence as in Titanic’s case. I’ve never understood why the ‘impossibility’ of a certain love story always undermines the preciousness of one which is successful and has dealt with simpler obstacles on the way; like for instance, simply dealing with a completely different human being and feeling unequivocally moved & shaken by the presence of that one person. The beauty of most things in this world, lies in their simplicity and hence, this epic love story leaves a mild aftertaste of over-cooked.
2. The Inexplicable Tragedy of It All
After the great ship sinks, the tale ends in tragedy; Rose is seen panting on the largest piece of wood in the whole of the relentless Atlantic, while Jack half-freezes and half-drowns to death in the icy cold ocean. I never understood how that piece of wood, big enough to support 3 Jacks, would have failed to accommodate both of them for the few hours that a life-boat took, to rescue Rose (it might be but a technical glitch, but I think the ulterior motive behind the entire thing was to ensure there was a sacrificial lamb at the end of it all – there’s the cue folks, somebody’s played the sympathy card majestically well). Of course, the entire world seems to be under the impression that the story became immortal owing to Jack’s selfless sacrifice and that probably, is my greatest problem. He could have and should have survived, and it would still have been a story worth celebrating.
3. The Concept that Sacrifice is a Pre-Requisite to A Perfect Love Story
Pretty much the same as point number 2
4. My Heart Will Go On
Celine Dion was majestic in her performance on what went on to become the most famous of all love songs from my generation. The melody is heart-wrenching, and yet My Heart Will Go On fails to inspire me as much as it should have. Point Number 1 is poignant and overbearing on this overpowering track too. A legend like Titanic, deserved something more than the cheesy rendition that My Heart Will Go On delivered. Musicians of our age seem to have a belief that beautiful music needs to be melancholy & heartbreaking by force. Although, there’s considerable reason to buy that line of thought as is evident in Porcupine Tree & Steven Wilson’s immaculate song-writing; sometimes, the prettiest and most bewildering love songs for me have been the frank, elated celebrations of a well deserved, well earned love.
5. The Disappointing Sex Scene
Ok! I’m going to be considered a perv for this, but hello, if you’re going to show an elaborate scene of the woman, naked to the skin, only for her lover to sketch a portrait, the love making deserves to leave behind a better memory than a mere hand on the foggy window of an unfortunate antique car (you know exactly what I’m talking about). Besides, owing to the circumstances of the climax, this is the only time in their lifetime that one of the world’s greatest lovers would ever make love and HEY, that deserved a better shot James Cameron!
6. The Unspoken Sermon
There’s something eerie about a particular verse from the song I mentioned above, that became symbolic with the story itself – “Love can touch just one time, and last for a lifetime”
I beg to differ and more than mildly at that. It’s that kind of thinking that encourages sacrifice and altruism to a different degree. The concept that you can only fall in love once, is miserably promoted and solemnly sworn by. While I understand why finding love after already having believed that you’ve found your soul mate and lost him/her is a difficult prospect, Rose herself is testimony to the fact that it is completely natural for a human being to find love more than once – the existence of her grand-daughter, (no doubt an effect of her union with another man?) clashes in heavy contradiction with Celine Dion’s incessant crooning.
After such heavy and possibly cynical bashing of a well told tale, I should bring myself about to the one scene that touched my heart and stayed with me all these years; the troupe of musicians on the ship that continue to play and produce melody after awesome melody as the great ship goes down, makes me want to jump right through the screen and join them. That sense of camaraderie and love for your job is what makes this world go round sometimes, I guess.
In spite of everything this post says, Titanic was one of the most revolutionary movies made in the last couple of decades. The tale of young, carefree Jack & his suppressed, controlled beloved inspired millions of people around the world to find love & have the courage to keep it. The movie itself was shot so well, it had some absolutely breath-taking scenes worth all its money and for that, despite it’s mortal philosophical flaws, Titanic remains, one of the most well-made & well told tales of my time.
What were your deal-breakers in this movie if any? Which scenes left behind a lasting impression? We’d love to hear your thoughts!