Release date: September 10th, 2012
Certificate (UK): 12
Running time: 189 minutes
Year of production: 1997
Writer and director: James Cameron
Producers: James Cameron, Jon Landau
Composer: James Horner
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bill Paxton
1998 was a great year. I remember it because throughout my life I’ve kept a box with cinema receipts for every film I’ve ever seen and my collection from that year’s pretty big, so from this alone I assume it was a good year.
However, I was surprised when I was looking through it recently and found 5 receipts for Titanic. At first I thought maybe I went with a group of friends but then I looked at the dates on each ticket and they were all different. It eventually dawned on me that I’d in fact been to see the movie 5 times. I couldn’t believe it myself. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve watched it on video, DVD and television broadcasts, but now 14 years later I’ve seen it for the first time in 3D. So, how does James Cameron’s epic, action-packed romance set on the doomed R.M.S. Titanic look in 3D?
Well, to begin with I was looking forward to this much more than I was with Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. As both are films that were roughly made around the same time and then converted to 3D more than decade later, they’re worlds apart in terms of story, action, effects and spectacle.
Unlike Star Wars, Titanic has the added advantage of depicting an epic disaster, one based on real life, but still one that shocks, impresses and leaves us breathless at the same time. This after all was the reason I went to see it again and again, just for that moment when Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) are holding on as the ship stands vertical and absolutely still for a few seconds before it begins its terrifying descent to the bottom of the north Atlantic Ocean.
Yet before all of that happens there’s the grandeur of the ship setting off and seeing it in all its glory as its sails towards the crimson sunset and Jack delivering those immortal words “I’m the King of the World!” As Titanic grinds against the iceberg, ripping its bowels open, we’re then thrown into the chaos along with its 2,223 passengers as waters begins pouring in. These are scenes I hoped would benefit greatly from the 3D effects but even at Titanic‘s most exciting and adrenalin-fulled moments I took the glasses off and noticed no difference at all.
Characters and objects in the foreground appear sharp and clear while those in the background are blurred to enhance the depth perception but this doesn’t add anything to the experience of Titanic. I found the movie as enjoyable as it was 5 screenings ago and that’s because I was caught up in Rose’s story and her struggle to break free from the stuffy confines of bourgeois society. As I watch her character develop from a girl who finds her life is not worth living to a young woman who fully embraces her existence, Titanic comes alive and this is regardless of any 3D effects.
I’m not adverse to 3D films, on the contrary I enjoy them a lot but I find 3D conversions not worth the time, effort or money. Unless it’s filmed specifically in 3D the differences are barely noticeable and overall it really adds nothing to the experience of a film you might have enjoyed or hated before in 2D. The ship’s breaking apart and its plunge into the icy waters looks exactly the same as it did when I saw it in 1998 and it evokes the same emotion from me as it did then, simply because it was an extremely well made film the first time round.
I’m sure that Titanic 3D has a lot of fans already, and I’m also sure that a lot of people will be wondering why Cameron converted it rather than just re-releasing it. For a film that’s embedded itself into the hearts and minds of so many who’ve seen it, the gimmick doesn’t make tears roll down our faces when Rose meets Jack on the Grand Staircase in her dream and they kiss to applause of all those watching. The film alone creates that magic and emotion for us, and that’s something 3D will never be able to achieve.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .