Release Date: December 19, 1997
Director: James Cameron
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Nucci, David Warner, Bill Paxton.
Tag Lines: “Nothing On Earth Could Come Between Them.”
“Collide With Destiny.”
Relevance: Madonna released her seventh studio album, “Ray of Light” on March 3, 1998. It received worldwide acclaim and was eventually nominated for six Grammy Awards, winning two. It was a huge commercial success as well and has sold more than four million copies in the United States and sixteen million copies worldwide. Its first week of release in the US it sold an unprecedented 371,000 copies which at the time became the record for the biggest first-week sales by a female artist. However, it debuted at number two on the Billboard charts thanks to the ‘Titanic’ soundtrack. Despite the movie keeping Madonna from having a number one album, ‘Titanic’ has remained one of my favorite films of all time.
‘Titanic’ was released on December 19, 1997 and instantly received huge critical acclaim. Excuse the obvious pun, but it was titanic at the box office as well. The movie was the most talked about event that holiday season as movie theaters were selling out left and right. The James Cameron directed epic eventually became the highest grossing film of 1997 and the first movie to ever reach the billion dollar mark. Until 2010, it was the highest grossing movie of all time until it was dethroned by another James Cameron directed film, ‘Avatar,’ a movie that most certainly will not be on my list of most influential movies of all time. ‘Titanic’ was nominated for fourteen Academy Awards, winning eleven, including Best Picture, Best Score and Best Song for “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. Madonna presented the Award for Best Song on March 23, 1998 during the Oscar telecast. Before she read the winner, she humorously rolled her eyes. That made it all better for me.
I saw ‘Titanic’ in the movie theaters twice, the first time being alone. I was married to a woman at the time and worked as a store manager for a retail store that sold music and movies. She often took our son, who was almost one at the time, to visit her family every occasion that she could. It was annoying, but what could you do. I was just grateful I didn’t have to visit them. I usually spent that time working long hours and rewarded myself by going to the movies. ‘Titanic’ was one of those movies I went to sometime in early January of 1998. I knew going into it that it was over three hours long, but for me that was a good escape from the hubbub of people I was all too familiar with around that time of year. I also knew that I was going to enjoy the movie, however I didn’t realize the emotional toll it would have on me.
The more than three hours that I sat in the theater seemed to go by so quickly. The movie was riveting, heartbreaking, breathtaking to look at and such an emotional ride. I made it through most of the movie without shedding a tear, but towards the end of the movie I completely lost it. During the scene where the one boat goes back to look for survivors, there was a shot of a dead woman clutching her infant child in her arms. The floodgates opened. For the rest of the film I was wiping away tears and trying not to make that much of a scene. Thankfully most others were weeping by then, so at least I wasn’t alone. Despite my emotional outburst, I loved the film and couldn’t wait to share it with my then wife.
The second time I saw the movie, this time not alone, was even more emotional for me and I can’t explain why, it just was. I mean, even that first time through, it’s not like I didn’t know what was going to happen. Boat hits iceberg, people die. It wasn’t a huge secret. But that just proves how good of a movie ‘Titanic’ was and what great storytelling and filmmaking I got to witness. Not only did we love looking at the special effects on the big screen, but we cared about those characters and wanted them all to go on and on, as the song goes. So the second time through, those tears started even sooner than the first time.
Like everyone else in the United States, I loved ‘Titanic’ which meant I was recommending the movie to every friend and family member as well as belting out “My Heart Will Go On” every chance I could. ‘Titanic’ made me cry, and it also gave me some interesting memories during its theatrical run. The music and movie retail store that I worked in at the time was in a very large mall in upstate New York. The center of the mall was tower like that went up at least six or seven floors. The movie theater that I saw ‘Titanic’ in twice was on the fourth floor (I think). No matter what floor you were on though, you were able to look down and see all the way to the basement level. Unfortunately, that became a place where numerous people decided to end their lives by jumping. Sadly, it happened a few times. One night when closing my store, I had to call my DM to let her know that we had another jumper. I started the message by saying, “Apparently someone did not take the ending of ‘Titanic’ too well.” No disrespect for the person that ended their life, but I lived my life by finding a bit of humor in everything. The next morning the DM arrived at my store while my gate was still down. As I went to open it for her, I grabbed it and shouted, “For God sakes there’s woman and children down here.” She laughed and life went on.
When ‘Titanic’ was released on VHS, I sold hundreds of copies at my store, and naturally I bought one for myself. By that time I was separated and living alone. I can’t tell you how many times I watched that movie over and over again in my little apartment on my little TV screen. As depressing as it was, it was also art that made me forget about my reality for over three hours at a time. And it was exactly what I needed. Over the years, people have come to make fun of and mock both the movie and the song, including my son. Not me. To this day, ‘Titanic’ has remained one of my most favorite dramatic films of all time and I still belt out “My Heart Will Go On” as much as I possibly can, right after playing Madonna’s “Ray of Light” of course.
Today’s Thoughts: “Gentlemen. It has been a privilege playing with you tonight.”
Both my husband and my son were home with me when I decided to start watching ‘Titanic’ today. My son was recently forced to watch the movie with his girlfriend, and to put it mildly, he hated it. My husband likes the movie but has some sort of aversion to Celine Dion. Needless to say I watched the bulk of the over three hour movie all alone. And I was totally okay with that.
‘Titanic’ is still a powerful, beautifully directed and acted piece of art. It moves me every time I watch it. And every time I watch it, the crying seems to start in different spots. Today’s spot happened to be near the beginning of the film and really never stopped until Celine Dion started singing. Kate Winslet, my girlfriend unbeknownst to her of course, is not only gorgeous in the film, but remarkable in her performance. Right from her glorious entrance in that luxurious purple hat, she has my heart and never lets go. Leonardo DiCaprio is equally impressive. Like Joe Tribbiani says, “Those two kids only had each other.” At least I am in good company with my opinion.
Naysayers say what you want about ‘Titanic,’ but put quite simply, you are wrong. The film is a wonderful epic that will always remain close to my heart. It comes extremely recommended and I am very proud that it begins my top twenty-five favorite movies of all time.
Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (winner), Academy Award for Best Director, James Cameron (winner), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Russell Carpenter (winner), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Peter Lamont, Michael Ford (winner), Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Deborah Lynn Scott (winner), Academy Award for Best Sound, Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers, Mark Ulano (winner), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris (winner), Academy Award for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Tom Bellfort, Christopher Boyes (winner), Academy Award for Best Effects, Visual Effects, Robert Legato, Mark A Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher, Michael Kanfer (winner), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “My Heart Will Go On,” James Horner, Will Jennings (winner), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score, James Horner (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Kate Winslet (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Gloria Stuart (nomination), Academy Award for Best Makeup, Tina Earnshaw, Greg Cannom, Simon Thompson (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, James Cameron (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, James Horner (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “My Heart Will Go On,” James Horner, Will Jennings (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Kate Winslet (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Leonardo DiCaprio (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Gloria Stuart (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, James Cameron (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Direction (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Music, James Horner (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Russell Carpenter (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Peter Lamont (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Deborah Lynn Scott (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers, Mark Ulano (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Special Effects, Robert Legato, Mark A Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher, Michael Kanfer (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up/Hair, Tina Earnshaw, Greg Cannom, Simon Thompson (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Gloria Stuart (winner), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Kate Winslet (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, James Cameron (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Production Design, Peter Lamont (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Gloria Stuart (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Music, James Horner (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Special Citation Award for Use of Special Effects, James Cameron (winner), National Film Registry (2017), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (nomination), PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, James Cameron, Jon Landau (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, James Cameron (nomination).
Ways to Watch: Hulu, Starz, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, DVD Availability.