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Titanic (1997)

  • Actor-Shared Background: Welshman Ioan Gruffudd plays Welsh officer Harold Lowe.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: James Cameron admitted that one of the main reasons he wanted to make this film was so he could personally dive down to the actual remains of the Titanic.
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  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Rose asks Jack to "draw [her] like one of [his] French girls", not "paint her". For some reason, the latter is starting to show up frequently these days. Also, a common misconception is that she says it while naked; she actually says the line while fully clothed.
  • Blooper: In the opening sepia tone footage, we see a blonde girl in a straw hat waving out, but when the ship departs, we see her again and the shot is reversed. In addition, it appears that the latter shot has the correct orientation. In the sepia tone footage, it appears that she is waving out to sea.
  • California Doubling: Baja California, in this case - while there were scenes in the North Atlantic and even the actual Titanic wreck, the main filming location were in Fox's studios in Mexico.
  • Cast the Expert: All the crew aboard the research ship and its submarine are, well, actual research-ship-and-submarine crewmembers. Cameron hired the Akademic Mstislav Keldysh to visit the wreck, and kept them on payroll for use as set and extras once the production phase started.
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  • Channel Hop: The film started out as a 20th Century Fox production entirely. As the production budget soared, however, Fox decided to sell the domestic rights to Paramount to hold off potential losses (they still released the movie internationally).
  • Creator Backlash: James Cameron has expressed some regret over how First Officer William Murdoch was portrayed (i.e. shooting a passenger and then himself), admitting that he'd been "thinking like a screenwriter" when he made the relevant decisions. After Murdoch's relatives and residents of his hometown complained, Cameron donated money to set up a charitable prize in Murdoch's name.
  • The Danza: Lewis Abernathy, who is not an actor but a friend of James Cameron, plays Lewis Bodine.
  • Dawson Casting: note  The 21-year-old Kate Winslet plays the 17-year-old Rose.
  • Deleted Scenes: An hour's worth of deleted material can be found on the Blu-ray. Some of these scenes were previously available on the mid-2000's DVDs. Several are based on events that actually took place over the course of the voyage and sinking.
  • Doing It for the Art: The film went over budget and over schedule, James Cameron forfeited his salary to make sure he could continue. Not to mention the extensive amounts of research and detail the production team put into making the film.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • The water during filming was deliberately cold, so Leo shouting "Oh shit, this is cold!" is real as well as Kate's gasp when she gets chest-deep in the water. The scene where Jack and Rose are swept away by a rush of water in the hallway is also real.
    • Billy Zane's reaction to Kate spitting in his face is genuine; he never expected it since it was improvised.
    • In the scene where Cal and Rose argue about Jack, Kate's frightened reaction to the meltdown is authentic—Zane improvised the table flip as revenge for the above example.
  • Expy: A non-narrative example. The film's score is often described as being reminiscent of the music of Irish singer/musician Enya, in particular the song "My Heart Will Go On". According to several books on the making of the film, this was intentional: Enya recordings were used as temporary tracks and the performer herself (who had some film and TV scoring experience) was invited to compose the final score, but declined. James Horner was reported asked to compose a score in Enya's style. And quite accurately, too: the anthemic music heard when Titanic launches is very similar to Enya's composition "Book of Days".
  • Fake American:
    • Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater.
    • Colonel Archibald Gracie was an American, played by British actor Bernard Fox.
    • John Jacob Astor IV, an American, played by German actor Eric Braeden (although Astor's ancestors did come from Germany).
    • Madeleine Astor, who was born in New York City, is played by English actress Charlotte Chatton.
  • Fake Brit:
    • Australian Jonathan Hyde as English White Star Line Chairman J. Bruce Ismay.
    • The actor playing Sixth Officer James Moody, Edward Fletcher, is American.
  • Fake Irish: Victor Garber (Jewish Canadian) as Belfastman Thomas Andrews, who in fact had a brother who became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
  • Fake Nationality: American Danny Nucci as the Italian character, Fabrizionote .
  • 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.
  • Font Anachronism: The film features Helvetica on some of the gauges on the ship. Titanic takes place in 1912. Helvetica is invented 45 years later.
    • Could be the almost identical Akzidenz-Grotesk, invented in 1896.
  • Genre-Killer: Of the "it's so good nothing else can live up to it" variety. There haven't been any major movies about the Titanic since this one.
  • Hire the Critic: Neil deGrasse Tyson wasn't very happy about how the night sky had been lazily mirrored. He ribbed James Cameron about it several times, the final time Cameron cooly responding "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." That deflated Tyson, but to his delight a few months later he was hired to provide a correct star map for the film's 10th anniversary DVD and 3D re-release.
  • Life Imitates Art: In one of the deleted scenes, Brock's manager Bobby tells him that they're over-budget, the partners depending on them are pissed, and that they're in serious danger of getting shut down. Jim Cameron later noted that when he was writing this, he had no idea he would be hearing all these things when the production ran into problems.
  • Meaningful Release Date: The 3D rerelease was timed to correspond to the centenary of the sinking in 2012. It released on April 6th, four days before the Titanic set sail - most likely to avoid a midweek release, and to capitalize on Easter weekend crowds.
  • Name's the Same: The Swedish poker players that Jack and Fabrizio win their tickets from are named Sven and Olaf.
  • Orphaned Reference:
    • When Jack makes Rose "fly" at the bow, he starts singing the popular 1910 song Come Josephine In My Flying Machine, and she laughs. This is a throwback to a deleted scene that came after Jack brought Rose to a party in steerage. As he accompanied her back to First Class, the two sang Come Josephine.
    • When Cal finds Rose at the lifeboats, he is disgusted to see her in a poor checkered blanket. In a deleted scene, she got that blanket from a generous couple at steerage, after they broke into the main hall. You see the same steerage couple swimming in the freezing water after the ship goes down.
    • Lovejoy has a gash on his head as a result of a fight with Jack that was cut from the film.
  • Playing Against Type/Creator's Oddball: A Period Piece Love Story made by a guy who, up to that point, only did hardcore Science Fiction and Action blockbusters. Granted there are some intense moments as it is also a disaster movie, but who would've thought at the time that the man behind Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss and True Lies would do a romance drama?
  • The Red Stapler: Since this film, passenger ship companies have had to actively stop passengers from doing the "I'm the King of the World" stunt standing on the tip of their ships' bows, since that's a very dangerous thing to do.
  • Romance on the Set: James Cameron met his fifth wife, Suzy Amis, on the set of this film. Of all his marriages, theirs has lasted the longest.
  • Science Marches On: The depiction of the ship sinking was based on CGI models compiled by research and survivor accounts that were accurate at the time of production. A later study commissioned by James Cameron for the 100th anniversary of the sinking indicates that the Titanic probably broke at 23 degrees or so, half of the approximately 45 degrees as depicted in the movie.
    • The CGI animation the study came up with can be found here.
    • The movie also made this happen: the scene of the Grand Staircase when it started being flooded led to Titanic scholars changing their theories of how it was destroyed during the sinking.
  • Star Making Roles: Leonardo DiCaprio went into the film with an Oscar nomination and a hit film. Kate Winslet achieved both for one movie. But Titanic is nevertheless regarded as both actors' true breakthroughs.
  • Throw It In!:
    • Jack telling Rose to lie "Over on the bed— uh, the couch." was an accidental flub, but James Cameron thought that was natural, so he left it in. You can see Leonardo DiCaprio almost swearing to himself, thinking he's ruined the take, but it comes off as a nervous 20-year-old thinking how much he just embarrassed himself in front of the girl he loves.
    • Apparently Leonardo didn't know how cold the water was when he jumped into it... thus the line "Oh shit, this is cold!"
    • During the lunch scene, the line "Freud? Who is he? Is he a passenger?" was an ad lib by Jonathan Hyde.
    • When Cal tries to force Rose into a lifeboat, she was supposed to jab him with a hairpin. Instead, Kate improvised spitting in Zane's face and the scene was kept in.
    • The heartbreaking line "Jack! This is where we first met!" was also ad-libbed by Kate Winslet.
  • Troubled Production: The film cemented Cameron's reputation as Hollywood's biggest Jerkass, so much so that the crew claimed he had a psychotic alter ego named "Noremac Mij". Apart from terrorizing the film's two lead actors (Kate Winslet suffered bruises so impressive that the makeup artists took photos to use for reference later), driving it insanely over budget and schedule and having to deal with cast members who came down sick from a shitload of hours spent in cold water, Cameron and about 50 other guys fell victim to an almost Deadly Prank when a crew member put PCP in their soup, forcing them to spend a night in hospital.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • Only the starboard side of the set below the superstructure was fully built and riveted. When it came time to film the scenes in Southampton, everything had to be backwards so it could be easily mirrored in post-production, even down to the buttons on people's clothing.
  • The engine room for Titanic was filmed aboard the World War II Liberty ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien (a museum ship in San Francisco), since the engine design was almost identical.

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