(9 june 2006)
long long ago in graduate school, we used to watch the first half of titanic– pre-berg. though we always had every intention of tackling the second part, it inevitably fell by the wayside and when we went to watch it again, we would return to part 1. because, really, part 1 is all you need.
it’s bridget jones on a boat. it’s anne and gilbert in the atlantic. like twilight, it makes us feel 16 again.
watching titanic with croftie the other day, just the introductory music was enough to bring a nostalgic tear to our eyes. we recalled sitting in backseats on long vacation rides, sniffling to james horner’s plaintive notes and wiping our eyes on flannel shirtsleeves. we remembered thinking my life is so tragic– though we couldn’t recall why and we’re pretty sure it wasn’t.
at the time, way back in the winter of 1997, i was wrought with grief that princess diana didn’t live to see titanic. as though had she lived three months more, jack and rose’s timeless tale might have pulled her from a wayward course and assuaged the pains of mental illness.
there’s something about being 16. stupid things seem so big and the big stuff seems so easily resolved by stupidity.
the most stupidly fantastic element of titanic, that which most endears it to 16 year old girls, is the ridiculously absurd plot. jack and rose knew each other for under a week. yes, he saved her life and that would tend to bring one pretty close to a person pretty quick, but not that close.
in rose’s shoes, we would have complained that jack called us “rose” too much. we would have rather died than hock up spit in front of him. and we most certainly would have been a little more frightened when he pulled us into that medieval looking gym, stared deep into our eyes and emphatically declared: “i KNOW you, rose. and YOU won’t be happy living like THAT.” unlike us, rose was naked within hours.
but these realities are nothing when you’re 16. and james cameron was eerily aware of that. which is why we will love him forever for making titanic, part 1. we don’t know how he did it. the mournful music that tugs at our girlish hearts. the beautiful clothes for which we would at least consider life-long enslavement to evil billy zane.
not to mention the shots that capture every single glorious nuance of the wonder that was leonardo dicaprio’s cuteness in 1997.
leo chewing on a cigarette during the poker sequence; leo rocking a tux during dinner; leo telling cora she’s his “favorite girl”; leo dancing in the jauntily unbuttoned white shirt; and our absolute favorite, leo blowing the strand of hair out of his eyes during the portrait session.
years later, it almost hurts to look. and yet, still, we have to rewind.
and somehow james cameron knew all of this. he knew what we girls wanted and needed: a movie about a ridiculously good-looking couple who fall ridiculously in love in a ridiculously short period of time, have a series of ridiculously dramatic adventures set to ridiculously mournful music and meet a ridiculously predictable end to the crescendo of a ridiculously saccharine ballad by a ridiculously skinny diva.
yes, we are ridiculous. and he knows us so well it’s scary.
as usual, croftie says it best: “watching this movie, i’m really surprised james cameron isn’t a 16 year old girl.”