I'm the king of the world!The
movie of 1997
(actually, due to its December release, the
movie of 1998
). The most expensive movie yet made at the time and fraught with problems
throughout the shoot, it was predicted for months to wind up a critical and commercial disaster. When people actually SAW the film, however, it was a very different situation. Titanic
was a darling of most critics and audiences; a massive commercial splash, spending a staggering 15 consecutive weeks
at #1 in the US, and eventually becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time, as well as the first to break the billion-dollar box office mark; won a record-tying 11 Oscars
, including Best Picture; and catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio
and Kate Winslet
to superstardom. Like most pop culture phenomena, it also prompted the proportional amount of backlash
, as well as quickly becoming a source of many Stock Parodies
. Unadjusted for inflation, it's the now second-highest-grossing movie ever, beaten out only by Cameron's own Avatar
. (If you adjust for inflation, Titanic
drops six slots, but, even so, it's still one of the highest-grossing films ever—the seventh, in fact
!) In all likelihood, Cameron now has enough money to raise the Titanic
and fire it toward Pandora.
In case you don't remember '98 (or if you were living in a cave at the time), Titanic
tells the story, in Flashback
, of the two fictional Star-Crossed Lovers
Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater. (Well...in Jack Dawson's case, fictionalized
; turns out that one of the 3rd-class passengers killed in the sinking was, in fact, named Jack Dawson). Unfortunately, they both happen to be aboard the ill-fated titular ocean liner
, which, as we all know
, struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912
. There's also a Love Triangle
involving Rose's evil Disposable FiancÚ
, Caledon "Cal" Hockley, who decides the best solution is to literally Murder the Hypotenuse
, Jumping Off the Slippery Slope
in the process. This more-or-less leads to the film's Bittersweet Ending
.Launched the A-list careers
of Leonardo DiCaprio
and Kate Winslet
The film was re-released in theaters on April 4th, 2012, in 3D
, ten days before the 100th anniversary of the Titanic
This film provides examples of:
- Abuse Mistake: When Rose tries to commit suicide, Jack talks her out of it. However, she slips and nearly falls to her death. After a struggle where Jack manages to drag Rose to safety, albeit accidentally tearing her dress and falling on top of her in the process, some crewmen investigating Rose's screams assume he's trying to rape her.
- Accidental Aiming Skills: Rose with the ax. Not only was her aim bad, but her eyes were closed.
- Action Girl: Rose has occasional glimpses of it when she doesn't have Jack around.
- Act Of True Love: Jack does everything he can to save his beloved's life, culminating with his letting her float on one of the few available planks while he froze to death with most of his body in the water.
- Adventurous Irish Violins: The film expresses and celebrates the optimistic resilience and joy of Irish culture through persistent use of this trope throughout its musical score.
- Age Cut: Present Rose is an old lady reflecting on her time aboard the doomed ship. The movie is a series of flashbacks of her 17-year-old self.
- Alternate DVD Commentary: Has a RiffTrax. It is delicious.
- Anyone Can Die: Once the ship starts going down, characters start dropping like flies, including Jack himself.
- Artistic License ľ Astronomy: The end scene has an inaccurate night sky mirrored from the middle, so constellations that shouldn't be visible appear twice. When Neil deGrasse Tyson brought this up at a dinner, James Cameron said, "Last time I checked, Titanic sold $1.3 billion worth of tickets, worldwide. Imagine how many more tickets we would have sold if we'd gotten the sky right." It was still corrected for the 10th anniversary DVD release.
- Artistic License ľ History: Contrary to popular belief, the third-class passengers were not locked in steerage. The purpose of the gates was to prevent the spread of disease so that only third-class passengers would require health inspections on their arrival in New York. Even when locked, they did not bar access to the deck—only to first- and second-class areas of the ship. Many steerage passengers, however, had a hard time finding their way through the maze of corridors to the lifeboats, with those who didn't speak English at an even greater disadvantage, since the signs were only in English. Even though the cabins of the first- and second-class passengers were closer to the decks and the lifeboats, the lifeboats were not loaded according to class. In fact, more third-class women survived than first-class men.
- The scenes which take place on the forecastle head could not have happened in real life, as this area was off-limits to passengers.
- As You Know: Played for drama.
Ruth: This is not a game. Our situation is precarious. You know the money's gone.
- Ate His Gun: Cal is mentioned by Rose to have died this way when he lost his riches after the 1929 Crash.
- Auto Erotica: A thousand beds on board, and Jack and Rose consummate their love in the back of a car.
- Being a movie coping with the changing of Edwardian era to the horrors and delights of the Twentieth Century, their love-making in the backseat heralds the use of cars as make-out places. In fact, one of the Edwardians' nicknames for automobiles was "brothels on wheels".
- Award Bait Song: "My Heart Will Go On". And James Horner had to wait for a proper moment to present it to the hot-headed James Cameron...
- Wallace Hartley and his band members certainly deserved this, at least.
- Rose, the high society waif, picks up a fireman's ax to break Jack out of his handcuffs.
- He gets a substantial downgrade from his Real Life Badass status (and from the opposite-direction exaggerated version portrayed in the 1958 film A Night To Remember, made with the help of Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall only two years after Lightoller's death), but Second Officer Charles Lightoller still gets a small moment where he faces down a crowd rushing the lifeboats with a pistol and demands they keep order—then turns to order Fifth Officer Harold Lowe into the boat, while showing him that he'd just bluffed the angry crowd with an unloaded revolver.
- Why, hello, Molly Brown, it's very nice to meet you...and watch you live while everyone else drowns horribly in the ocean! So much for new money being below you, eh, Ruth?
- Badass Longcoat: Rose's pink jacket, once the ship starts sinking, looks like one of these. She even takes it off just as she is about to wade into the water with the ax to free Jack in typical action-heroine fashion. Later, Cal's jacket, which looks merely okay on him, looks badass on her once she starts wearing it, perhaps because it is a few sizes too big for her and thus looks longer and thicker on her. The ship's officers and Thomas Andrews also look pretty badass in their full-length overcoats.
- Battle Butler: Lovejoy.
- Big "Shut Up!":
- Rose does this in the second half when she's had enough of her mother's self-centered attitude.
- Jack and Rose do it to a White Star employee who complains about them breaking down the door to free themselves from a sealed portion of the ship.
- Bittersweet Ending: Jack freezes to death, but Rose meets him again when she finally passes away. If you pay attention to her dream, she enters a room filled with passengers that died on the ship, and they all look at her as if to say "nice of you to join us"; evidence that she dies and joins the rest of the dead on the "ship of dreams". If you want to see it that way.
- Brick Joke: Rose and Jack's first conversation is about how the fall from the ship won't kill Rose, but Jack mentions about how cold the water is. Guess what ends up killing him.
- This whole bit of dialogue existed purely to foreshadow the dangers and horrific deaths that two-thirds of the ship's occupants were going to mere days later. If you jumped overboard, especially from the stern as it climbed ever higher, you'd probably be killed by the impact (or by the design of the life jackets, which was such that it would break your neck if you hit the water feet first). If you jumped from lower down, or otherwise got into the water without maiming yourself, then you'd probably drown or freeze to death.
- The deleted scenes have a payoff to Tommy's comment about Rose: "You're as like to have angels fly out your arse as get next to the likes of her." When Rose comes to the third-class common area and leaves with Jack, Tommy and Fabrizio laugh in disbelief.
- Characters Dropping Like Flies: 1500-ish people died when the real ship sank, so no surprise.
- Chekhov's Gun: Done literally with Lovejoy's pistol, which he shows to Cal when Cal is emptying the safe.
- That safe itself is full to bursting with Chekhov's guns.
- Chief Officer Henry Wilde's whistle, which he uses multiple times during the sinking, saves Rose's life.
- Jack teaching Rose how to spit later helps her when Cal tries to force her into a lifeboat.
- Chekhov's Skill: Earlier in the film, Jack teaches Rose how to "spit like a man", and she doesn't do too badly for a first try. Much later in the film, when the ship is sinking, Cal grabs her by the arm and refuses to let her go to Jack. So what does she do in order for him to let go of her? She "spits like a man" right in his face.
- It's actually a Throw It In, as Rose was scripted as simply jabbing Cal with a hatpin before Cameron realized the spitting would be a neat callback.
- Also, to an extent Jack's drawing skills, which become pivotal to the plot.
- Cool Guns: Lovejoy's nickel-plated engraved M1911, especially since they weren't widespread enough at that time for an custom order to been easy in 1912.
- Cool Old Lady: Elderly Rose. Molly Brown, too, although she's more middle-aged than old.
- Crazy Cat Lady: Averted. Nice old lady Rose has a cute little white Pomeranian dog, showing that she's affectionate and soft, but without the implications of a cat.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Cal.
- Crying Little Kid: Played straight and subverted at the same time. Cal finds a crying abandoned child and takes her onto a lifeboat in order to get himself a seat on that same lifeboat; any good will he might have gained from this act is lost, as he'd dismissed the child earlier before realizing that she was his ticket off the boat.
- Dangerous Key Fumble: Rose and Jack are trapped behind a metallic gate as it floods. One of the cabin crew fumbles the keys while trying to help, before uttering this line and running away. Cue Jack attempting multiple times to retrieve them and open the gate while the freezing cold water rises.
- Dark Reprise: The music that plays during the sinking (aside from that played by the actual musical trio, of course) consists heavily of the main theme of the movie, but in a darker and more frantic tone.
- This is pretty much a James Horner trademark—create one melody and score the entire movie literally as a variation on the theme, preferably heavy on Our Lady of Soundtrack Sorrow. Listen to his score for Apollo 13 for a really blatant example.
- Dead Artists Are Better: Cal taunts Rose that Jack's sketch will be worth a lot more in the morning, when the ship has sunk.
- Demoted to Extra: Remember that blonde chick who dances with Fabrizio in third-class? She was written as an opposite counterpart to Rose, a girl who finds her love interest in her class and follows her strict parents' orders without question (down to refusing to go with Fabrizio once the ship begins to sink, despite the fact that he knows the way to the lifeboats better). She's also the blonde girl who hangs on the railing before falling to her death. The film's script identifies her as Helga Dahl (a name she indeed responds to in deleted scenes). The bulk of her scenes in the movie were cut, so it's likely only the most die-hard fans will know anything about her.
- Determinator: Jack didn't give up where many people did. And as a result, Rose survives thanks to his efforts.
- Diamonds in the Buff: Rose posing for her portrait.
Rose: I want you to draw me wearing this. [holds up her necklace]
Rose: Only this.
- Die Hard on an X: The movie has several likenesses to Romeo and Juliet, only set on a ship.
- Dirty Coward: Despite the focus on all the noble victims willing to Face Death with Dignity, everyone Jack and Rose meet as they attempt to escape the ship leaves them to their fate, one crew member even sneering a "To hell with you!" at a hysterical Rose.
- To be fair, she did break his nose.
- Disaster Movie
- Disposable FiancÚ: Cal.
- Domestic Abuser: Cal.
- Don't Come A-Knockin'
- Double Standard: A historically-accurate one—if you were on the Titanic, you had a Y chromosome, and you weren't a big-shot, you were more likely to be summarily left behind to drown, even if there was room for you in the lifeboats (not that things were all that much better for big-shots with Y chromosomes, mind you; only a third of the men in first-class survived; the number of surviving third-class women was much larger). Precedent for this practice had been globally set by the sinking of the HMS Birkenhead in 1845, 67 years before the Titanic's maiden voyage, although the latter would become the most famous example.
- Double Take: The chief engineer, upon noticing that the engines were ordered full astern.
- Downer Ending: For most of the people on the ship. Literally.
- The Dragon: Lovejoy, Cal's valet and bodyguard.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Rose tells her mother and Cal that "something serious has happened" after she and Jack witness the Titanic striking the iceberg. In response, Cal tells her that his two most important things have disappeared and that one of them, Rose, is back. He then has the Master of Arms search Jack for the other, the Heart of the Ocean (which Lovejoy slipped in his coat pocket to frame him).
- Driven to Suicide:
- Rose is talked down from this by Jack.
- Rose reveals at the end of the film that Cal committed suicide after losing his fortune in the 1929 Stock Market crash. ("Or so I read.")
- William Murdoch—but this isn't historically accurate. See Heroic BSOD.
- There are contradictory eyewitness accounts concerning the real Murdoch's fate, so it's possible that he really did commit suicide as depicted in the film. Murdoch's hometown steadfastly disagrees, of course, and celebrates Murdoch as a local hero.
- Drowning Pit: The sinking ship becomes this after the collision, especially for the occupants of the lower decks.
- Dutch Angle: Used practically while filming to simulate the tilt of the ship's deck as it sinks.
- The Edwardian Era: The 1912 scenes.
- Empathy Doll Shot: One of the Mirs spots a doll's head in the debris field. Inspired by Robert Ballard's account of Alvin coming across a doll's head during their explanation of the wreck.
- Enormous Engagement Ring: Rose tells Jack that Cal is worse than her boyfriend and shows him the engagement ring from him. He tells her that if she had jumped off the boat, she would have gone straight to the bottom.
- Epic Movie
- Face Cam
- Face Death with Dignity:
- Benjamin Guggenheim famously said, "No, thank you, we are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down as gentlemen. But we would like a brandy!"
- The band. Made all the more touching when you remember that this particular movie death is a reconstructed historical fact.
- The couple portrayed holding each other in bed as the room floods was Isidor and Ida Straus. Ida refused to leave her husband when offered a lifeboat seat. They gave her seat to their maid, and remained on the ship together.
- Part this, part Heroic BSOD, Captain Edward J. Smith decides to face death at the helm of the ship that would have been his last command. Although it is not entirely certain that he really was going to retire. There's a story that says he was planning to retire after the next big White Star steamship, the Britannic, entered service.
- Fanservice: While teenage girls might have had to drag their boyfriends to see a period love story, those guys did get to see Kate Winslet naked. Sounds fair enough.
- Fiery Redhead: Jack tells Rose that if she doesn't break free, sooner or later the fire in her is goin' to go out.
- Also subverted. Although the story is being recounted by Rose, there are a number of scenes that she herself did not witness and is unlikely to have known the details of.
- Flipping the Bird: Rose to Lovejoy, as she and Jack are escaping him in the elevator.
- Flipping the Table: Cal does this the morning after Rose's "exertions in third-class"...and then immediately afterward makes himself presentable and calmly walks out. Yeah...he's not entirely stable.
- Follow the Leader: Pearl Harbor, which has a similar romance-against-epic-tragedy-of-the-20th-century concept, and, like most following works, has almost no understanding of why it worked here. It works in both directions too—Cameron decided to make Titanic after seeing the 1958 movie A Night to Remember, to the extent that they have a lot of scenes in common.
- Food Porn: Certain shots linger on the food being served in First Class.
- Foreign Cuss Word: From some Swedish background passengers—"┼h herre Gud, det ńr ju vatten ÷verallt!" ("Oh Lord God, there's water everywhere!")
- Fabrizio curses quite a bit in Italian, especially when Tommy dies. After he and Jack win the Titanic tickets in the Southampton pub, Fabrizio randomly shouts "Figlio di putana!" which translates roughly into English as "son of a bitch!"
- Foregone Conclusion: The ship sinks.
- Foreshadowing: You could make a drinking game out of how many times the cast mentions that it would be very, very bad if the Titanic sinks.
- It is also made very clear several times before the actual collision that the problem for the passengers if the boat was to sink was not drowning, but the freezing cold temperatures in said water.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Rose is phlegmatic, Jack is sanguine, Cal is choleric, and Ruth is melancholic.
- The present day characters—Lizzie is phlegmatic, Brock is choleric, Lewis is sanguine, and Bobby is melancholic.
- Fourth Date Marriage: "When the ship docks, I'm getting off with you," Rose announces to Jack after having known him for what, two days?
- Somewhat understandable in that Rose is only seventeen, and doesn't really understand what she would be in for. She is also desperately unhappy in her life, and Jack is a way to escape it.
- It should also be noted that this comes right after Jack and Rose have consummated their relationship. Being from those times, it was likely that Rose assumed that they would marry—otherwise, she wouldn't have slept with him at all.
- A Bilingual Bonus too, albeit between dialects, not languages. In Ireland and the UK, "getting off with X" means "going to minimum second base with X". Which is also what Rose meant. Much chuckling in the cinema.
- "Getting off" can also refer to having an orgasm. Cue some more chuckling, though probably less, since the phrase as-is wouldn't immediately call this possibility to mind for most people (arousal and orgasm in the slang being less actions than reactions).
- Truth in Television: Transatlantics like the Titanic, the Olympic, or the Mauritania were nicknamed "love boats" at the time, because many couples met and fell in love during the 6 or so days that it took to cross the ocean. The unrealistic part is that in the movie they are of different classes.
- Futureshadowing: The film opens with an extended tour of the ship's remains at the bottom of the ocean.
- Framing Device: Brock Lovett and his crew trying to recover the Heart of the Ocean necklace, and listening to Rose relate her story aboard the Keldysh.
- Gallows Humour:
- "I intend to write a Strongly Worded Letter to the White Star Line about all this."
- "Music to drown by. Now I know I'm in first-class."
- "If this is the way the rats are goin' that's good enough for me."
- "Oops, somebody left the water running."
- (from a Cut Scene) Lewis: "Wait a minute. You were going to jump off the the Titanic? All you had to do was wait two days!"
- (from a Cut Scene) Astor: "Right you are, Mr. McCauley. It is 700 miles to shore, so you wouldn't want to have anything to impede your stroke."
- (from a Cut Scene) Bride: "Maybe we should try that new distress call. S.O.S. It may be our only chance to use it."
- Gorgeous Period Dress: For the first-class passengers, at least.
- Grande Dame: Rose's mother and a number of the other female passengers are tragic variations on the character type, while "Molly" Brown is a subversion.
- Hand Wave: How did they get that safe out of the Hockley's staterooms and to the surface? Well, that ROV had robot arms, so that must be how they did it. Let's just ignore the fact that there's no way it had enough power to lift a heavy metal box full of equally-heavy water, or the fact that the doorways were barely wide enough for the ROV even when it wasn't carrying anything.
- Happily Failed Suicide: After her suicide was stopped by Jack, Rose goes on to live a long and full life.
- Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Rose's reaction to seeing Jack's drawing of the "One-Legged Prostitute".
- Her Heart Will Go On: Trope Namer.
- The Hero Dies: Jack himself at the end.
- Heroic BSOD: Captain Smith realizes just how many people there are still on board while almost all of the boats are gone.
- Ship designer Thomas Andrews, having apologized to Rose for "not building you a stronger ship", stands alone in the stateroom and had taken off his life vest. He takes a moment to adjust with almost loving gentleness a timepiece on the mantle. Based on real-life account of a witness who last saw Andrews in the stateroom just staring at a clock as the Titanic reached its death throes.
- One of the officers (Murdoch) has a My God, What Have I Done? moment after firing into the crowd with his revolver, and commits suicide immediately afterward.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Jack. The scene where he clings to the wreckage while Rose lays on top of it is frequently derided, but it's likely he did it so she wouldn't be exposed to the freezing water.
- Confirmed by the movie itself. Rose gets on, but when Jack tries to as well, he almost flips the wreckage (a fairly flat piece of wood), and they clearly have to give up. Rose is almost in the water as it is, and adding Jack's weight would half-immerse both of them. Since Rose barely survives, she certainly would have frozen with the added exposure before the search party came by.
- Chief Engineer Joseph Bell and his entire staff remain at their posts in the engine room until the very end, ensuring the ship has power until literally the last moment.
- The engineers also kept her trimmed laterally—she's the only liner to go down nearly level. This allowed all of her boats to be used. Andrea Doria wasn't so lucky: she rolled over, making half her boats useless.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jack and Fabrizio seem to have been good friends before their adventure on the Titanic.
- Hidden Depths: Everyone considers Ripley and Sarah Connor to be the best symbols of feminism in Cameron's work, but what about our plucky heroine Rose?
- Historical-Domain Character: Many. There is the Unsinkable Molly Brown, Captain Smith and the rest of the officers, Ismay, Andrews, Gracy, J.J. Astor, the band, the Countess of Rothes...
- Historical Injoke:
- Jack and Rose finally hook up in the back seat of a car held in storage (yes, there really was one on the Titanic...but it may not have been fully assembled).
- According to the movie, the last thing lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee were doing in the crow's nest before spotting the iceberg was looking at Jack and Rose laughing and giggling. Maybe if they hadn't been distracted by them, they would have seen it sooner.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Pretty much all the crew, except Smith (who, ironically, held the most responsibility, for not understanding how to captain a vessel the size of the Titanic, made even worse because he had already commanded her nearly-identical sister ship the Olympic) are depicted as incompetent at best and outright negligent or cruel at worst.
- First Officer William Murdoch goes from an upstanding officer to shooting two men trying to rush the lifeboats and shooting himself in remorse. His family were not amused.
- Second Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller becomes a nervous martinet instead of a hero who kept a couple dozen people alive on an overturned Collapsible B.
- This was apparently a reaction (overreaction?) to his heroic portrayal in A Night to Remember (it is sometimes said that this was because Lightoller himself was an adviser to ANTR, but he actually died a few years before that film; the adviser was Fourth Officer Boxhall, who is not named in Cameron's film).
- J. Bruce Ismay is shown displaying total disregard for safety by pushing for a speed record the White Star Line already knew it couldn't win. The entire purpose of the three massive luxury ships—the Olympic, the Titanic, and the Britannic—was to beat Cunard and other rivals when it came to luxury and technological novelties (and even that's subjective), not speed, as they knew they couldn't beat the Lusitania and the Mauretania on speed. Arriving early would have led not to applause but to both complaints from passengers, whose hotel reservations were for the following day, and annoyance from the New York customs. It should, therefore, surprise nobody that the whole speed thing is fiction.
- To its credit, the film does, however, show Ismay attempting to help people into the lifeboats, even pulling aside fleeing a passenger or two who were about to start trying to find another or otherwise walk off in a panic. Ismay actually did these things to the best of his ability, and only himself got onto a lifeboat (one of the last to go) when there was no one left nearby to call over (as they were all heading for the stern). A lot of Ismay's bad reputation came solely from this single decision in his life. Whether or not he deserves it is entirely up for debate.
- Hollywood Kiss: Jack and Rose.
- Honor Before Reason: It's all very romantic that Rose throws the Heart of the Ocean away at the end, but she could have used it to give herself, or at least her children who are supporting her, a better life.
- She probably didn't use it for a long while because she was trying to hide from Cal (the diamond would have been a major clue to her identity), and by the time she learned of his death (17+ years later), she'd already adjusted to her new lifestyle. Still fits the trope at the end, though, in terms of what she could have given her children.
- I Kiss Your Hand: "I saw that in a nickelodeon once, and I always wanted to do it."
- I Need a Freaking Drink: The baker Charles Joughin, when he's clinging to the railing of the stern and has just watched a falling man bounce off the propeller, pulls out a hip flash and takes a hefty swig. (Truth in Television, as the real Joughin spent half the night helping people get off the ship and the other half getting drunk; against all the odds, all the booze in his system probably saved his life when he finally went into the water.)
- Infant Immortality:
- Averted. Remember that young French mother with her baby asking Captain Smith where she should go? Yeah...don't worry, you'll see them again.
- About three times you also see a curly-headed Irish girl named Cora, who doesn't look much older than seven. You don't originally see her death on-screen, but in the final scene where Rose is surrounded by all those who perished on the Titanic, she's the first person you see. However, a deleted scene does show her and her parents, screaming and crying, trapped behind a third-class gate and being submerged by water. Cameron explains it was cut because it was just a bit too upsetting.
- The Irish woman putting her two children to bed and telling them that everything was going to be alright in the lower decks, while the water slowly starts to rise...In an earlier scene, you see them below deck, the mother reassuring her children that it will be their turn to go up to the boats soon.
- Another woman caresses her son just before the ship breaks up, telling him that it'll all be over soon.
- Although they don't get any on-screen deaths, several dogs are seen boarding or being taken for walks on the ship. In the lifeboats, no dogs. Do the math.
- And let's not forget when Rose and Jack attempt to save a stranded boy in third class as the water is rushing in, soon to be retrieved by his father—only to head right where the water's pouring in...
- Informed Attractiveness: Rose's beauty gets talked up.
"Ah, forget it, boyo. You're as like to have angels fly out your arse as get next to the likes of her." [though this is as much a comment on her social status as her beauty]
"Congratulations, Hockley, she's splendid."
- Insert Cameo: James Cameron shows up in several scenes during the movie. It is he who is sketching Kate Winslet with the Heart of the Ocean (note that a different, more detailed sketch is used for the one found in the present).Cameron is this third-class passenger being checked for head lice◊. He can be seen again behind Fabrizio and Tommy when Murdoch is threatening to shoot people.
- Ironic Echo: The exchange between Ismay and Captain Smith.
Ismay: [over afternoon tea] The press knows the size of Titanic, now I want them to marvel at her speed. We must give them something new to print. This maiden voyage of Titanic must make headlines.
Smith: [upon realizing the ship will sink in two hours] Well, I believe you may get your headlines, Mr. Ismay.
- A deleted scene has a payoff to a line by Lovejoy. Before leaving Jack in the master-at-arms' office, Lovejoy punches him in the gut and says, "Compliments of Mr. Caledon Hockley." In a deleted scene, the two fight in the flooding First Class Dining Saloon. Upon subduing Lovejoy, Jack hits back with "Compliments of the Chippewa Falls Dawsons!"
- Ironic Echo Cut: The film briefly cuts from Jack and Rose partaking in the lively steerage party to show Cal and the other "masters of the universe" having a boring chat about business and politics.
- It Will Never Catch On: Rose collects Picasso paintings and has read the works of Sigmund Freud, of whom nobody has heard.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Rose. "Wasn't I a dish?"
- It Has Been an Honor: The band.
- It's All Junk: The "Heart of the Ocean" now really is the heart of the ocean. Also, passengers are seen hauling luggage and other prized possessions with them to the lifeboats early on, but once the danger becomes obvious the only things people struggle to take along are life vests. A special exception is made for one of the little girls in Lifeboat No. 2 (the boat Rose gets in and then jumps out of), who is allowed to take her rag doll with her.
- Jerkass: Cal.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Cal's single act of kindness was ensuring that an orphan girl would get on a collapsible. But even then, that was just so he could also get a spot on the boat. A later scene shows him pushing people away who are desperately trying to get on the boat. To his credit, the collapsible was swamped and was tipping dangerously at that point. If all those people had gotten on, the boat would probably overturn and kill them all.
- In the original script, Cal killed Fabrizio in that scene. Even Cameron must have though that it was over the top.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Cal.
- Kill the Poor: When told that half the people on the ship are going to die, which will primarily consist of third-class passengers, Cal says that it won't be the better half that perishes. In fact, keeping the third class passengers waiting behind locked doors to drown while the wealthy passengers are placed on lightly-occupied rescue boats is even more reminiscent of this.
- Lampshade Hanging:
Rose: When the ship docks...I'm getting off with you.
Jack: This is crazy.
Rose: I know. It doesn't make any sense...that's why I trust it.
- Language Barrier:
- Jack and Rose are trying to escape the rapidly-flooding ship when they run into a man who yells at them in a language they can't understand and then runs into a hallway. Jack and Rose try to warn him not to go that way, but he can't understand them and gets swept away by a rush of water when he opens a door.
- Families, especially in third-class, were unable to escape the ship because they couldn't read the English signs that were clearly pointing the ways toward the boat deck.
- Large Ham: Billy Zane, it's what he's good at.
- Letting Her Hair Down: Rose, big time!
- Lots of Luggage: We see Old Rose bringing lots of luggage onto the Keldysh in her Establishing Character Moment, then, when she goes into her flashback, Young Rose does exactly the same thing boarding the Titanic.
- Love Theme: "My Heart Will Go On", heard repeatedly during Jack and Rose's scenes.
- Love Triangle: Jack, Rose, and Cal.
- MacGuffin: The Heart of the Ocean.
- Magic Countdown: It's estimated that 37 seconds transpired between the sighting of the iceberg and the collision. Here, it takes two minutes before the collision happens.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: An argument can be made for Jack Dawson being a rare male example of the MPDG trope: a mysterious, handsome, appealing, artistic, free-spirited boy who, because we see him entirely from Rose's perspective, has very little of his interior life or character motivation beyond how he relates to Rose shown. All his actions throughout the film relate to Rose and are as much about defining her character as they are about his. His "big speech" moment is not about him, it's all about Rose and how he sees her as a beautiful creature trapped in her world who'll die if she can't break free.
- Match Cut: The iconic scene of Rose and Jack kissing on the bow, where their figures dissolve to the prow of the wreck in the present.
- Meaningful Echo: "I'll never let go" is said when Jack is holding Rose over the precipice, and when Rose is holding Jack in the ocean.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Invoked by Molly Brown—"What's the matter with you? It's your men out there! There's plenty o' room for more!" Also see Double Standard, above.
- Money Is Not Power: Cal tries to bribe his way off the doomed ship. While it appears to work initially, the money is thrown back in his face when it matters most.
- MRS Degree: Rose's mother says, "But the purpose of university is to find a suitable husband. Rose has already done that."
- Murder-Suicide: William Murdoch shoots and kills a fictional third-class Irish passenger, then commits suicide from guilt. This is a Historical Villain Upgrade, as the real William Murdoch was regarded as a hero and was last seen helping passengers.
- They had to take an apology to Murdoch's hometown as a result.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Quite literally, Cal's plan to get Rose back.
- My God, What Have I Done?: William Murdoch's reaction to shooting Tommy, who dies instantly — he kills himself from the guilt.
- The Nineties: The present day of the film, with old Rose recounting the tale, takes place in 1996.
- Nipple and Dimed: Subverted. Kate Winslet nude for Jack's painting of Rose only earned a PG-13. Reportedly, Cameron worked with the editors and the MPAA to determine just how many seconds he could get away with and keep it PG-13.
- It helps that, despite immense sexual tension, nothing actually happens in the scene. The subsequent Auto Erotica scene is far more censored in comparison.
- It also helps that only one of her breasts is exposed, with the other being covered by Jack's drawing board.
- Nobility Marries Money: Rose gets engaged to Cal. Rose's father got her family into debt, and their family name is their only real asset now.
- Nostalgia Heaven: Rose either dies or dreams and goes to the Titanic as it once was. It's purposefully up to interpretation.
- Not a Game: Rose's mother when she takes her to task for allowing her infatuation with Jack to threaten the betrothal to Cal and their financial future.
- Obvious Stunt Double: A meta-example of sorts. While Jack is drawing Rose in-story, James Cameron did the sketch in question, with his hands being filmed making it. Not very obvious. What is obvious is that another artist was then hired to redo the sketch, as the one that is drawn by Cameron doesn't look much like the sketch seen at the film's beginning. So a stunt double for a stunt double, in a sense.
- Of Corset Hurts: Rose wears them but doesn't like it, leading to the obligatory "tightening the corset laces" scene, in which her mother lectures her on the restrictions that constrain a young lady in proper society as she laces the garment.
- According to research by James Cameron, corsets were going out of fashion by 1912 and most girls of Rose's age didn't wear them, so Rose's mother forcing her to wear one at all is also symbolic of their relationship.
- Offscreen Karma: Old Rose mentions in the end that Cal lost all of his money in the 1929 stock market crash. He was so distraught that he killed himself.
- Oh, Crap:
- Andrews, Ismay, and Captain Smith poring over the blueprints of the ship after the collision with the iceberg, each coming to the realization that the ship will sink and there is nothing they can do to stop it.
- This◊ image of Benjamin Guggenheim note witnessing the water rise within the ship as it is sinking.
- Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee, the two lookouts in the crow's nest, when they spotted the iceberg, followed by the bridge crew, followed by the engine room crew when the bridge suddenly orders "full astern" and, back on the bridge, the crewman at the helm is given the order "hard to starboard" (which means the opposite of what you think it means, as it turns the rudder to port).
- Jack, seeing the first water start seeping into the cabin where he's been left alone and handcuffed to a pipe:
Jack: Oh, shit!
- Doubles as a Call Back to Jack saying the exact same thing earlier when they were being chased through the lower decks by Lovejoy, though the context then was far more light-hearted.
- Cal's expression when the first funnel starts to collapse.
- Jack gets a more mild one in when he overhears Captain Smith and Thomas Andrews discussing just how severe the damage to the ship was, simply stating in appropriately-worried tones "oh, this is bad."
- And then when Rose asks Andrews what's happening:
Rose: Mr. Andrews, I saw the iceberg, and I see it in your eyes. Please tell me the truth.
Thomas Andrews: [takes Rose aside] The ship will sink.
Rose: [beat] You're certain?
Thomas Andrews: Yes, in an hour or so, all this will be at the bottom of the Atlantic.
Thomas Andrews: '[Rose's eyes widen] Please, tell only who you must. I don't want to be responsible for a panic. And get to a boat quickly. Don't wait. You...remember what I told you about the boats? [Rose nods]
- Older Than They Look: Many people can only hope to look as good as Rose does when they hit the big 100. Gloria Stuart, who played Older Rose, was 86 at the time of filming, however.
- They did try to age her with makeup and Stuart was apparently not very amused by the result. Even so, comparing her in the film to photos of when she was really 100 will reveal noticeable differences.
- One-Woman Wail: Sissel Kyrkjeb÷'s ethereal voice croons with a sad tone in many scenes, particularly ones featuring the ship's wreckage.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: There are Irish characters in this film. And you will be in stitches when they start talking. A more literal example occurs with the elevator operator; he fakes a British accent when talking to Rose, and is revealed to actually have an Irish accent as he panics.
- Oscar Bait
- Outrun the Waterfall
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Jack in a tuxedo, though fairly justified due to a tux being a status symbol. At the Grand Staircase, Cal clearly sees Jack and gives a good-day-to-you-sir nod. Even one of the stewards, who held the door for him, doesn't recognize Jack the following morning when he's in his normal clothes.
- Peerless Love Interest: Jack is told, "Ah, forget it, boyo. You're as like to have angels fly out your arse as get next to the likes of her."
- Photoflood Lighting: The hallways are rather dazzlingly lit for a 1912 ocean liner. Then again, this was true of the real ship.
- Pimped-Out Dress
- Please Wake Up: "Jack, there's a boat! Jack..."
- Precision F-Strike:
Frederick Fleet: Bugger me!
- Pretty in Mink: This was likely more for historical accuracy than anything else. Also, a poster for "Ghosts of the Abyss" showed a woman wearing an ermine cape and muff.
- Production Foreshadowing: Jack uses the term "I see you" in the exact manner as it would later be used in Avatar, which was already written.
Rose: You have a gift, Jack. You do. You see people.
Jack: I see you.
- Public Exposure: Rose poses nude while Jack sketches her.
Rose: I believe you are blushing, Mr. Big Artiste. I canĺt imagine Monsieur Monet blushing.
Jack: He does landscapes.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: There have been constant complaints about how hard to believe it is that the lights were on up until the ship broke in half, or that the guys in the machine room kept working while the ship sank, or how they "screwed up" the turning orders, or even that the Statue of Liberty either shouldn't be there or shouldn't be green yet. When you do the proper research, it turns out that James Cameron got every single one of those things right.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Smith and Thomas Andrews.
- Retirony: As mentioned above, most rumors agree that the voyage of the Titanic was supposed to be Captain Edward J. Smith's last command before retirement.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Cal and Jack.
- Runaway FiancÚ: Rose DeWitt Bukater fakes her death in the Titanic disaster and changes her name to escape her engagement. Before the ship went down, she told her intended that she'd rather be Jack's whore than Cal's wife. Before that, she wanted to kill herself so she didn't have to marry him.
- Say My Name: Ye gods. Make a Drinking Game out of the number of times Jack and Rose say each other's names, (Rose saying Jack's name = 80 times, Jack saying Rose's name = 50 times) and you'll be thoroughly plastered by the time the first hour is over.
- Saw It in a Movie Once: Jack says this to Rose after he meets her at the Grand Staircase and kisses her hand.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Take That, Cal!
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Cal tries to play this. Doesn't work. However, there's also a deleted scene of a possible Real Life case where a wealthy couple, Sir Cosmo and Lady Lucille Duff-Gordon, who were in that lifeboat with twelve people in it, bribe the oarsmen to not go back and pick up survivors. In reality, though, the money they gave to the crew was to give them financial support after their rescue, as the crewmembers were at far more of a loss financially than the wealthy Lord and Lady.
- Second Face Smoke: Rose does this to her mother.
- Scenery Porn: The ship itself, especially the Grand Staircase. Becomes Scenery Gorn when it sinks.
- Shaggy Dog Story: The frame story in the present day involving the researchers. They are looking for the Heart of the Ocean, thinking that it had gone down with the ship. The reason why Rose is even there is because she claims to have useful information, but in telling her story she never even mentions that she had the diamond all of these years and throws it into bottom of the ocean.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Applies more to Jack, but there you go.
- Shown Their Work:
- Cameron and the set designer's conducted exhaustive research on the ship, from the measurements of the individual rooms, to the carpet designs to the china patterns, even going to Harland and Wolff—the original ship builders themselves—to look up rare blueprints and never-before-seen photographs to make sure they had every possible detail. In fact, Ken Marschall—the foremost expert on the Titanic design and the painter of almost every painting of either the Titanic wreck or the sinking in the past 30-odd years (seriously, he seems to be on call whenever a documentary needs a painting) is quoted as saying that he didn't call their set a "set", to him, it was the Titanic.
- According to one of the tie-in books, Cameron personally logged more time with the real ship's wreckage than did any of its actual passengers.
- In fact, the movie set may even have provided an alternative theory as to why the Grand Staircase is missing at the real wreck: when the set was flooded during filming, the staircase set piece (which was supposedly built to real life specifications) began to break away from its framework. If the construction of the set was accurate, then, the new theory goes, the real Grand Staircase simply floated out of the ship while it was sinking and eventually disintegrated, rather than being eaten by microbes afterward.
- Furthermore, there has been some debate as to why Funnel No. 1, the forward funnel, toppled first, when there were many factors in the design that should have made that impossible: the funnels were designed to lean backwards, so they should have fallen forward at the same time if they fell at all, or they should have fallen to the side—but only if the ship was listing considerably, which it wasn't. It was during filming that the answer was discovered: in order to get Collapsible Boats C and D on the starboard side into position, some of the guy-wires that hold the funnels in place had to be removed, thus removing needed support later on as water weighed the bow down.
- The Swedes who lose their tickets to Jack not only speak fluent Swedish, but also use the right accent for a working-class person in the early 1900s.
- The drunk cook that Rose meets on the stern just before the ship went under is Charles Joughin, who really was a cook, and who really did go back to his cabin to drink after the lifeboats were gone, and really did ride the stern of the Titanic right down into the water. He was one of the very few survivors that were taken from the water, and most doctors credit his survival to the fact that he was drunk off his ass (the alcohol in his blood acting as an anti-freeze).
- Even the dogs seen being brought aboard or walked on deck are breeds known to have been on board the real ship. The black French bulldog seen being walked by a steward is a lookalike for Gamin de Pycombe, a champion of his breed and one of the few dogs to appear in surviving Titanic photographs.
- Significant Sketchbook: Rose first sees Jack as he is sketching on the deck, and he shows her some of the drawings. Later, there is the famous scene where she requests that Jack sketch her in the nude (her, not Jack).
- Spectacle: The film is heavily reliant on this for its emotional impact; it loses a lot when not seen in a movie theater or when you're someone who pays more attention to the ship than to the characters.
- Spiteful Spit: In Cal's face by Rose.
- Spirited Young Lady: Outwardly, Rose is everything a well-brought-up girl should be, poised and well-mannered, but she dreams of riding, chewing tobacco, and spitting like a man. Despite her high-class upbringing, she is very witty. After she tells Mr. Ismay that Dr. Freud's ideas about the male preoccupation with size might be of particular interest to him, Molly Brown calls her a "pistol". When the ship is sinking, she loses all her lady-like qualities and shouts that she's through being polite.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Jack and Rose.
- Stealth Insult: Common with Cal and Rose's mother towards Jack and people they consider lesser than themselves. An example is, upon seeing Jack in a suit, Cal mentions he could "almost pass for a gentleman". Jack, of course, turns it back at him just as stealthily: "Almost."
- Stiff Upper Lip: Some peoples' reaction to the fact that the ship has hit an iceberg.
- Storyboarding the Apocalypse: The researchers' animation of the sinking serves this purpose for the audience.
- A more low-key one with less fancy CGI when Andrews is explaining to Ismay and the officers what exactly is going to happen in the next two hours.
- In a small-scale tag-team example, Rose and Jack take turns describing precisely how they'd die if they jump off the stern, Jack trying to scare her out of jumping and Rose trying to convince him to leave her to it.
- Strongly Worded Letter: Jack quips that he's going to write one to White Star.
- Talk to the Fist: Tommy delivers one to the crew member still yelling at them after the third-class passengers break down the gate.
- Take a Third Option: Onboard the RMS Carpathia, Rose finds out that Cal has survived and is looking for her. She gives the people there a false name and quickly turns her face, allowing her to avert the undesired marriage to Cal without taking more drastic options.
- Tear Jerker: In-Universe, at the end of Rose's story, we see not only her granddaughter crying, but even the ROV pilot, who vocally thought she was a fraud.
- Technology Porn: Who gets more screen time, Kate Winslet or the Titanic?
- Well, the film is named after the most vital participant, the ship herself.
- And the fact that every 1912 frame Post-Southampton and Pre-Carpathia has some part of the ship in it. Yes, lifeboats count.
- Tempting Fate: Cal Hockley said, "God Himself could not sink this ship." Guess what happens at the film's climax?
- In truth, the phrase is credited to an unknown deck hand on the ship, who said that in response to a question on whether or not the boat was actually unsinkable.
- In a deleted scene, the gym instructor asks Ruth if she would like to try the rowing machine, to which she replies "I can't imagine a skill I would need less." Guess what she ends up doing that night...
- That Woman is Dead: Rose identifies herself as "Rose Dawson" to a customs agent in New York after being rescued.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky: Lifeboat 13 almost got crushed by lifeboat 15 being lowered on top of it.
- Those Two Guys: Fabrizio and Tommy.
- Also the two lookouts, Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee.
- In the deleted scenes, the wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride.
- Timeshifted Actor: Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart as Rose.
- Together in Death: According to popular interpretation, the film ends with Rose dying and being reunited with not just Jack but everyone who died that fateful night.
- Also noteworthy is Ida Straus, the elderly woman who decided to die with her husband Isidor instead of taking a place on a lifeboat, a course of action that would have almost certainly resulted in her having to live on without him. Their last scene is of them in a bed, holding hands, as the water begins to pour in.
- This trope is also averted when you realize that Rose did not reunite with the man she married and started a family with.
- Unkempt Beauty: Rose towards the end, even when she is battered and has bits of ice forming in her hair and eyebrows.
- Upper-Class Twit: A lot of them. Special mention goes to Rose's mother, who, as the ship is sinking, lets it be known that she expects a cup of tea when she returns to her room, and asks if the lifeboats are to be seated according to class.
- Uptown Girl: Rose DeWitt Bukater is, in Jack's words, a spoiled brat and an indoor girl, while he sleeps under bridges and goes where he pleases. She's trapped in that lifestyle and he just wants to make sure she's okay, but she tells him that it's not up to him to save her.
- Villainous Breakdown: Cal, after Rose jumps back onto the ship to be with Jack. By the end of the scene, he's giggling when he realizes the irony of him losing the Heart of the Ocean.
- Villainous Crush: Cal clearly has one on Rose.
- Waistcoat of Style: Most of the men wear one, often with a Nice Hat.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted; the fate of a surprising number of minor characters and extras can be known either by reading the script or really paying attention to the background in the movie. Or by being a Titanic nut and looking at books documenting the passengers and crew who were on the ship.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As a reward for all his previous loyalty, Cal leaves Lovejoy to die when the ship starts to sink. Granted, the man was a jerk, but that's still pretty harsh.