Update: Spring 2012 – Titanic is once again in the theaters and available to see on the big screen, this time in 3D. The reviews of the 3D experience have not been altogether positive, but it is a great opportunity for a new generation to experience this award-winning movie and for long-time fans to revisit a favorite story. Check your local listings for show times.
The year was 1997, and movie audiences around the world were all about to take a boat ride – to the tune of $1.8 billion dollars in theatre receipts. In a stunning, yet to be duplicated Hollywood success story, director
/ producer James Cameron of Terminator and Aliens fame would pump up the melodrama to unprecedented levels and transform the tragic sinking of an enormous ocean liner named the Titanic into one of the most profitable love stories ever committed to film.
While Cameron is undoubtedly a genius – and the "king of the world," as he proclaimed himself by echoing DiCaprio’s line from the film at the 1998 Academy Awards, where Titanic walked away with 11 statues – casting also played a huge role in Titanic’s success. The lead was played by 90’sheartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, who sinks his teeth into the role of Jack Dawson, an artist floating through life guided only by his passions. When Jack prevents the suicide of an unhappily engaged woman one night, (Rose, played by Kate Winslet), they grow closer and closer, drawing Rose further away from her fiancée (played by Billy Zane). Of course, their love is as doomed as the ship itself, and after its fateful encounter with an iceberg, Jack slips into a frigid death in the arms of his new lover while they both cling to a piece of floating wreckage.
While it might seem a simple tale, Titanic gave so much to 90’s pop culture that its effects are still being felt to this day. The iconic image of DiCaprio holding onto Winslet at the rail of the Titanic’s bow has been recreated a thousand times by a thousand amateur posers and celebrity parodies, with mainstream films (such as Love, Actually) and SNL comedians (Andy Samberg’s "I’m On A Boat" music video) alike mining Titanic’s imagery. Not only does the film continue to provide an endless supply of quotable scenes and lines, but its soundtrack managed to dominate the charts as well. Celine Dion’s rendition of the film’s theme song "My Heart Will Go On," was the best-selling single of 1998, and it cemented her as the most recognizable diva of the decade.
The fact of the matter is, thanks to its multimedia assault on the 1990s Titanic is now an inescapable brick in popular culture’s foundation, and one which is unlikely to fade from memory any time soon.