So… we went to a Valentine’s Night screening of Titanic 3D, which also seemed to be a chance for Paramount to do a reaction spot for TV.
My reaction is not much different than how I felt when I saw the T3D presentation at the studio months ago. Looks gorgeous in 4K on a big screen. No real need for the 3D.
I was happy that when we got to the theater, it turned out not to be IMAX 3D. Those glasses are ridiculous and I have only had one or two happy experiences with that specific format. (I quite like IMAX and don’t always dislike 3D.) So I didn’t get irritated by having the glasses on as we watched the hours of film roll by.
However… I found myself wanting to take the glasses off repeatedly. And here is why: it’s like watching the movie through a filter. Call it darkness, call it clarity… call it what you like. But for me, especially on Titanic, the slight facial fur and occasional acne under the make-up on Kate Winslet and the small pock marks on Leonardo DiCaprio’s face are a part of the intimacy of the movie. The movie takes such painstaking efforts to get every detail right… I want to see them, including the imperfections. And with those glasses on, I could not. Some might be happy not to see detail… to have the image smoothed out even more. But not me. These people are beautiful. They’re imperfections are beautiful.
It struck me that Titanic, which does include some CG, is really the last epic movie anywhere near this size that we are likely to ever see made on a set like this. I can’t speak for a mad genius like Jim Cameron… maybe if he made the film today, he’s still shoot it in a tank with smaller-than-scale but still humongous sets. But most studios, if they were going to make this film, would be CGing most of it… especially with such advances in quality. (One of my favorite things in the digitized version is that Cameron didn’t upgrade the CG of actors on the deck that were cutting edge back then and now look like Lego characters in some shots.)
There were, maybe, a half dozen shots in the whole movie in which the 3D made any difference of significance to me. And as I say, the glasses cost intimacy.
As for the movie itself… God… so much better from start to finish than I remember. Billy Zane is still the sore thumb (no fault of his), but not nearly as offensive as I remember his character being fifteen years ago. The pre-memory opening sequence is a little long and a little too coy about the real intent of the exploration. But somehow, the movie felt like it was 45 minutes shorter than it actually is as we watched it on Tuesday night. Cameron delivers so many beautiful moments. I mean, masterful, masterful filmmaking. One forgets, with years between films and Avatar being such an overwhelming visual experience, just how special this guy is as a teller of intimate stories.
I felt a universalism in Jack and Rose in this film that I didn’t feel 15 years ago. Maybe it’s the GOP primary battle playing out in the last few months, but the generational conflict of this film felt clearer, more one-sided, and more political than ever. Wealth is greedy and selfish and myopic. Youth is open and ambitious and alive. Molly Brown is the hinge for the wealthy. The middle-aged poor on the boat are the hinge for youth, suffering loss with a bit more perspective than Jack and the other young ones. But, it’s not all black and white. Cameron allows grace notes for the rich and some ugliness amongst the lower class… mostly young men working on the ship.
By the end of the tale, bodies everywhere and just over 700 on lifeboats, most viewers will probably feel that the world would be better off if most of those on the lifeboats – majority wealthy – were floating in the water and vice versa.
And when the Heart of the Ocean hits the water, we’re not just moved by the love still held by Rose for Jack, but it’s kind of a happy “fuck you” to Bill Paxton’s expedition of greed.
I’m sure a lot of this was there for many viewers back 15 years ago. But it all really hit me in this screening. And it felt like this could be a real phenomenon amongst a new generation of teenagers… not just an opportunity for people 30 and over to engage in a kitsch-fest from their not-so-long-ago youths.
I’d go again.
I probably will.
To a 2D screen this April.