The movie Titanic has always held a really special place in my heart. It is pretty much my go-to chick flick on the rainy days, the bad days, the crying days, and even the happy ones, as well. I first saw Titanic in theaters when I was a mere four years old (yes you read that correct). But I loved it so much on the big screen, that I begged my mom to take me back to see it.. three more times to be exact. That's what happens when an only child becomes obsessed with something, your wacko parents tend to jump on board the crazy train, too. And, of course, we purchased the movie once it came out on VHS (shout out to that two tape collector's edition). I watched it so many times at home that the tape literally started falling apart. I cannot tell you how much money I (my parents) have spent to feed this addiction.
Nearly twenty years after the movie's release, and my obsession still stands. I have watched the movie more times than I can count. I can speak every line before it's spoken. And my hope for Leo and Kate finally professing their love for each other is still somewhere in the back of my mind every time Oscar season rolls around. This movie has been with me through thick and thin, but not simply for superficial reasons. It is not just a romantic flick for me, it is inspiring, captivating, informative, and above all, entertaining. So sit back, relax, and let me tell you why Titanic is the greatest movie of all time.
1. They rise above socioeconomic status and labels
Jack Dawson was the poor, nomadic type (think modern day homeless hipster). He did not stand a chance conversing with Titanic's elite. These were not just rich people on a ship, the elite first class cabins were home to some of the wealthiest people in the entire world during that time period. Jack was bold, courageous, and daring when he shared such a brave statement with the group. The full quote goes something like this, “I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's gonna happen or, who I'm gonna meet, where I'm gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life's a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you... to make each day count.” Jack showed Titanic's "rich and famous" that money is powerless without happiness and fulfillment. He made each day count, not because of his finances (or lack thereof), but because of his unique outlook on life.
2. Tackling the topic of mental illness (way before it was politically correct to do so)
I believe the reason I was so deeply drawn to Rose's character is because of the transparency James Cameron gave her. Mental illness is just now becoming a real talking point among most Americans, and James Cameron came out swinging back in 1997. Less than an hour into the film, Rose attempts suicide. She feels misunderstood, used, and clearly abused by her soon-to-be husband. She was trapped and felt like suicide was the only way out. This is real and this is, unfortunately, relatable for so many people throughout the world. Mental health NEEDS to be talked about. Suicide NEEDS to be talked about. And I think it is absolutely beautiful that James Cameron addressed it so boldly in this movie.
3. Their vulnerability
Jack and Rose have more vulnerability and rawness in their relationship than most people do in a lifetime of loving each other. Sure, "it's just a movie", you say. But humor me, they love each other so deeply and so passionately that they are willing to risk it all for one another. For so long, Rose needed someone to look at her like a real person, instead of a "porcelain doll" that you can pick up from a shelf anytime you need someone to build your ego (I'm looking at you, Cal Hockley). Jack was the first person to see her, like really, really see her, and he loved her despite her crazy, and despite her flaws. His love was authentic. And for a pretty girl (or really any girl) authentic love does not come around often.
4. Their love broke boundaries
Sure, it is the typical "rich girl, poor boy" scenario, but in my eyes, Titanic made it happen. And not in some forceful, "this is for a movie" kind of way. They actually fell for each other. She was able to look past his third class ticket status, and he found a way to view her as more than just a pretty, polished rich girl. Their love was powerful, emotional, and gripping. Breaking down those walls could not be easy, especially in a time period where EVERYTHING revolved around social class and reputation.
5. Women can be classy and sassy AT THE SAME TIME
As time progressed in the film, we find out that Rose is not your average, timid, old-school kind of gal. For centuries women have been forced to bite their tongue, sit still, and look pretty. Rose broke the mold, especially for a movie placed in the 1910's. She is your average "pretty rich girl" in the beginning, but as the hours press on we learn that she is assertive, honest, outspoken, and inspiring. By the end of the movie, she cares more about her happiness than the judgmental comments from those around her. A fight all women have had to face at one point or another in their lifetimes.
Of course, the obvious, Titanic displays a pretty depressing and hopeless message by the time the credits are rolling. But in my honest opinion, it is a necessary hopelessness. It is jaw-dropping, disturbing, and almost unreal. Watching a movie with so much death really puts matters into perspective. You truly never know what tomorrow holds. You could have a first class ticket on an "unsinkable ship" with every conceivable detail of your life planned out, and still end up near death in the ice cold North Atlantic Ocean. Nothing in life is certain. No ship is unsinkable. And nobody leaves this life unscathed. There will be trials, errors, misfortune, and death. It is inevitable. Life is not all sunshine and fairy-tales, Titanic displays that, and so much more.
7. Choosing a life partner has nothing to do with income
This particular quote has always stuck out to me, and even confused me at first, because as a kid watching the movie, you don't fully get it. Let's be real, some adults would not even understand the concept. Of course, every girl reading this now is shaking her head in disagreement, swearing up and down that she would choose Jack Dawson every time. But level with me here, and please be honest. If a rich, well-to-do, high society "Chuck Bass type" wanted to marry you, would you really leave him for a backwoods, Wisconsin boy who makes his money by painting naked women? Sure, Jack is absolutely stunning and probably one of the most genuine and kind people in all of Hollywood's "movie history". I'm not downgrading that at all. But choosing the best person to spend your life with is not an easy task, especially when every one around you is feeding you lies and talking about you behind your back. Choosing to be "his whore" instead of "your wife" is not just an empowering quote. It means making a decision to be with the person who makes you better, not just the person who sounds better on paper.
Every time I watch Titanic, I walk away with the idea that love DOES exist. If a couple as odd, unexpected, and quirky as Jack and Rose can fall in love, then anyone has a chance. Titanic exhibits hopelessness (obviously), but there is also hopefulness, as well. There is hope that love exists, love can win, and that sometimes love does not come in the shape or form that you were expecting. And just because someone dies, that does not discredit the love that they had here on earth. We all know that the movie ends with Dawson's demise, but that does not mean that their love didn't exist. It was real, it was wonderful, and it was pure.
For some people, Titanic will always be that annoying and cliche chick flick, but to me, it will be the story that shaped my childhood. From my fascination with the actual historical event, to my undying love affair with Jack Dawson; Titanic will always be in my heart, and I have no intention of "letting go" anytime soon.
Welcome to my screening room. Here I present for your viewing enjoyment a selection of both my favorite and antifavorite movies. This area will always be under perpetual construction. Look for lots of expansion and improvement as time goes by.
***** A one-in-a-million flick; a movie of
the very highest caliber!
**** A very good movie
*** A good flick, though not great
** A so-so flick
* Save this for when you're bored
 A poorly-made flick
[x] A bad movie
[xx] A very bad movie
[xxx] An EXTREMELY bad movie
[xxxx] A GUT-WRENCHINGLY HORRIBLE movie!
[xxxxx] Assassinate the director!
My Top Ten Most Favorite Movies
- The Neverending Story ***** This is my all-time favorite movie. It not only lays forth directly, succinctly, accessibly, the cancers and evils which are eating away at the souls of all of us who have the fortune/misfortune to be part of "modern civilization", but it even prescribes remedial action, something no other movie I've ever seen does. This movie bids you set aside your fears and doubts, and dare to do what you dream.
- Gandhi ***** A beautiful telling of the life of visionary Mohandus K. "Mahatma" Gandhi. It was filmed on a "shoestring" budget of a few hundred thousand dollars, and yet it has an epic grandeur greater than many movies costing 100 or even 1000 times as much money! (It costs a cool half-billion bucks to film a typical "blockbuster" these days. Richard Attenbourough made this flick on a thousandth of that!) This movie is a historical epic. It is very long, and it is full of uncomfortable ideas that actually make you think. Those expecting fast-paced, non-stop, slam-bang action will be sorely disappointed. But it is my all-time number-two favorite movie, because of the important and compelling ideas in it: that we human beings can learn to tolerate each others' differences, that we can live together in peace, that war is ultimately unnecessary, that we can solve our conflicts by negociation rather than aggression, that we can be assertive without being hurtful. This movie compellingly illustrates these powerful ideas in a non-preachy way, making it (in my opinion) one of the greatest movies of all time.
- Koyaanisqatsi ***** Koyaanisqatsi is one of the most bizarre movies ever filmed. It is also, in my opinion, one of the best. It is a feature length motion picture, yet it has no dialog and no plot. Koyaanisqatsi is about nature versus modern civilization, balance versus imbalance. The title, koyaanisqatsi, is a word in the Hopi language meaning "life out of balance". This film shows that imbalance very poignantly, even without dialogue or plot, at about 5 times normal speed. Beyond that, it's indescribable. You'll just have to see it.
- Star Wars ***** One of the best-ever tellings of the ancient story of the on-going battle between the forces of good and evil in the universe. This movie is about courage, honor, loyalty, betrayal, and faith in a higher power. Certainly one of the greatest movies of all times. I saw it the day it first came out back in 1977 and it changed my life forever.
- Star Trek: First Contact ***** Since the days of Copernicus and Galileo, when humankind first learned that we are living on a small, insignificant planet, orbiting a very ordinary star, far out on the edge of a very ordinary galaxy among millions of other galaxies, as far from the "center" of things as imaginable, one overwhelming question has seared the mind of anyone who looks up at the night sky contemplatively: "Are we alone? Have we no friends out there?" The answer comes to those of us who are honest with ourselves: "We are probably not alone. There are almost certainly others out there, friends or enemies. But where are they? Why have they not come? And what would I do, one lonely human, if they did come, and they landed in my backyard, and one of them stepped out of his spacecraft and said 'hello', and raised a hand in a gesture of peace, or a weapon in a gesture of hate?" That is the main point in First Contact. The whole movie leads up to that moment when the young space traveler from a distant star -- the first-ever visitor to Earth from another planet -- raises his hand in greeting to Zephrim Chochran and says... well, I won't tell you what he says! See it yourself!
- Titanic ***** This movie is the best of all the movies about the Titanic. Titanic works very well on many different levels, including scenic grandeur, maritime action-adventure, historical epic, love story, disaster story. Titanic features incredible, breathtaking cinematography, especially in the external shots of the ship. These scenes were filmed using a combination of live-action, scale models, and computer animation, but you can't tell! You'll swear you're really there. While Titanic does include some fictional story details, all of the main events of the real-life Titanic disaster are accurately portrayed. This movie presents the tale of the life and death of the greatest ocean-going ship ever built in a way that is more real, more compelling than any other Titanic movie I've ever seen. I was also greatly moved by the fictional but deeply-moving love story between Jack and Rose, a tale of a love which transcended even death itself. The very last scene of the movie is especially poignant. But more than anything, this movie is a historically-accurate tale of how people reacted to one of the most horrifying maritime disasters of all time. Courage and cowardice, poise and panic, murderous greed and selfless sacrifice -- all are portrayed in this movie as they actually happened on that tragic night. Come take the boat ride of your life; but be sure to reserve a seat in the lifeboat!
- The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King ***** Director Peter Jackson's first two episodes of JRR Tolkien's classic tale The Lord Of The Rings were good, but not great. This episode, however, is truly one of the greatest movies ever filmed. (It is also the fifth-longest movie ever filmed in all of human history.) This third episode adheres to both the details and the spirit of Tolkien's original tale much more closely than Peter Jackson's first two episodes. It also has much more coherence, better acting, better directing, better continuity, better emotional "rightness", better pacing... hell, better everthing. It is simply the best Tolkien movie ever made, bar none. It blows anything else ever filmed out of the water. Intensely exciting, ravishingly beautiful, deeply moving. Two thumbs up! Way to go, Peter Jackson and crew!
- The Untouchables ***** A badly titled movie, in my opinion. But a very good movie, none-the-less. This is all about the battle between a small band of men ("The Untouchables"), who include US Treasury agent Eliot Ness (well acted by Kevin Costner) and a street-smart Irish cop (one of Sean Connery's greatest performances), against gangster Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). This movie is about courage, and the will to fight evil at all costs, and the tenacity to keep on fighting until the battle is won. As Eliot Ness says near the end of the movie, "Never give up! Never give in! Never stop fighting until the fighting's done!"
- Casablanca ***** A lovely b&w flick about love, loss, jealousy, bitterness, and redemption, among other themes. Well-made, and well-acted by Humphrey Bogart. The song "As Time Goes By" is one of my all-time favorite movie songs.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day **** This movie is a warning of the dangers of letting technology, power, and money get in the way of more important human values on a national/global level. The first scene shows the Third World War in progress, children bursting into flames in a schoolyard as a million watts of gamma rays (from a thermonuclear weapon which just detonated a mile away) suddenly sear their flesh from their bones. The next scenes show a nightmare of post-holocaust war. Then the rest of the movie goes back to the present day, and shows hints of what lead us to the war in the first place. The protagonists then have the task of preventing that war. A sometimes-gruesome, but eminently watchable flick. The "father-son" relationship between Arnold Schartzenegger's "Terminator" character and the little boy is especially touching.
- Schindler's List **** This movie earned Director Steven Spielberg his first OSCAR for Best Director, an honor the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had wrongfully withheld from him on several different occasions because of the Academy's bias against Science Fiction and Fantasy, Spielberg's usual genres. But in Schindler's List, Spielberg tells the story of World War Two villain/hero Herr Schindler, the wealthy Nazi businessman who specializes in profiting from the war by selling munitions and other supplies to Hitler's Nazi armies, but finds to his dismay that the Jewish slaves working in his plants are just as human -- sometimes more so -- as the Germans. He finds himself increasing appalled at the cruelty of the Nazis and other Germans towards the Jews, and finds himself, little by little, doing what he can to thwart the Nazis' campaign of torturing and murdering Jews. He manages to save several hundred lives, at least. And yet, at the end of the movie, he remains a loyal Nazi, believing in the basic principles of the Nazi philosophy, if abhorring the brutal excesses. I admire the makers of this movie -- director, producers, writers -- for not over-simplifying Herr Schindler and trying to make him out to be either a simple hero or a simple villain. He was neither, as the movie so beautifully points out. This movie is highly emotional due to its unemotionalism. That is, it is very moving precisely because it sticks to accurately portraying the historical facts without sentimentalizing them. A "must-see" movie for mature adults! However, BE WARNED: This movie contains extremely-graphic scenes of extreme violence. In one scene, for example, a Nazi officer is standing in an open square, in broad daylight, with a young Jewish woman, about 20 years old, his prisoner. The young woman says something the Nazi officer doesn't like, so he pulls his pistol out of his holster and blows her brains out. I still don't know how they did that flying-brains effect. The scene has no music or sound effects (other than the sound of the gun going off), and the camera does not zoom in or out, or cut away. The camera holds study on the whole scene, from before the officer shoots the young woman, to afterwards, as he walks away, ordering someone to "remove this garbage". That scene gave me nightmares for weeks. This movie is not for young children, or those with weak stomachs.
- Aliens **** A wonderfully frightening science-fiction/horror story. I especially love the scene where Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) is in the elevator, going down to the basement to rescue her little girl from the evil clutches of the alien monsters. All the way down, she's assembling, loading, and readying her weaponry. When the elevator door finally opens on the bottom level, there she stands with loaded-and-cocked armor-piercing machine gun, grenade launcher, idling flame thrower, and other goodies; one look at her face, and you can see she's a woman who's out to kill whoever dared to abduct her little girl, and death to anyone or anything that gets in her way! A great scene.
- Twister [****] A one-of-a-kind movie. There are other movies about tornadoes, but no other movie comes this close to reality. This movie is terrifying because of its sheer realism. The viewer is taken on a tour of tornado country, during the heart of tornado season, and gets to ride with the tornado chasers in their cars and vans as they put themselves in harm's way. In the movie, the tornado chasers get very close to the tornadoes indeed, far closer than they intended to on a couple of occasions. The tornadoes in the film were mostly computer-generated, but much of the winds, rains, and thunderstorms were real. The movie was shot almost entirely on-location in the Oklahoma/Kansas area, and contains hours of footage of this beautiful countryside, all shot in sharp, realistic color in broad daylight. You'll feel like you're really there. This movie is a partially-fictionalized version of the true story of the VORTEX team's tornado research in the early 1990s. A very frightening movie.
- Fatal Impact [xx] I don't know what this movie was about because it was so boring that I slept through most of it. An extremely inept attempt at "spoofing" various other movies. Its allusions were difficult for me to figure out, and most of its jokes left me wondering where the punch-line went to. Play this flick on your VCR if you want to fall asleep! As good as Sominex.
- Clueless [xxxx] This movie was so just-plain-stupid that it made me sick to my stomach! It is an insult to the intelligence of the movie-going public. Did the people who made this think we don't have brains in our heads?
- Monty Python's The Life of Brian [xxxxx] This movie makes-fun-of and trivializes everything I believe in and hold sacred: Love, truth, logic, goodness, honor, ethics, courage, compassion -- it makes a mockery of all these things, and hence I despise this film as I despise no other movie. Here this foul and hideous movie sits, at the very BOTTOM of my list of movies, and here this revolting gob of garbage will sit till hell freezes over. I think all of the negatives, prints, and videos of this filthy, disgusting misuse of celluloid should be rounded up and burned, and the persons who made it should be assassinated! That's how much I hate this vile and contemptible flick! (Oh, and whoever wrote that nauseating song "Look on the Bright Side of Life" should be crucified, slowly and painfully.)