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YMMV / Titanic (1997)

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Near the end of the film, Rose tells her granddaughter and the others that Cal "married of course and inherited his millions", implying that Cal's father may have been giving him an inheritance if Cal married and started a family. This would mean that if Cal and Rose married, they both would have benefited financially from the arrangement. Is Cal's obsession with Rose and determination to have her motivated by a desire to acquire his inheritance? Or simply wanting to have a beautiful wife and conform to society's expectations? Or some twisted form of actual affection (see Jerkass Woobie entry below)? Or all three?
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    • Made possible for everyone but Jack and Rose when you watch the extensive deleted scenes. The Strauss's refusal to part, a joking-in-the-face-of-death J.J. Astor, the grim parting later between him and Gugenheim (something Cameron even had to create, as no one witnessed such an exchange and survived to tell about it), a shell-shocked Ismay's known dressing-down by Lowe and Ismay's apology, later we see Ismay entering his PTSD phase on the Carpathia, Lightoller balancing survivors on the upturned collapsible, we not only get Cal's frantic response to the woman he thinks is Rose but her shell-shocked mother looking into the faces of mothers and children and clearly hunting for her own daughter... basically there's a whole other set of characterizations on the cutting-room floor. (Though in fairness and as Cameron himself points out, part of the reason why the scenes were cut because it was already a really long movie.)
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    • Many viewers have pointed out that, if you really think about it, Old!Rose is a major Jerkass. The survey ship is on an expensive and dangerous mission to recover a gem that Rose has in her possession despite having no claim to it (it was intended to be a wedding present, but Rose and Cal never got married). And after regaling the crew with her story, Rose simply tosses the diamond overboard. Then (if you subscribe to the theory that Rose dies at the end of Titanic) upon reaching the afterlife, the first thing Rose does is go to Jack, a guy she spent a few days with when she was a kid, rather than the husband she was married to for years and who fathered her children.
    • Some have taken Cal's line "You are my wife in practice if not by law" to mean that he and Rose may have slept together already. It's also been noted that Rose is far more sexually forward than Jack; it's her idea to be sketched nude (and the fact that she intends for Cal to find a nude drawing of her suggests that it's not the first time he's seen her that way). In the sex scene in the car, Rose takes control and lets Jack rest his head on her - suggesting she's more sexually experienced.
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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: The Troubled Production made many, including James Cameron himself, expect the movie to sink just like the real-life ship itself. Instead, it became the highest-grossing movie ever (until Avatar came along) and won 11 Oscars.
  • Anvilicious: The first act hammers home that women in 1910s society had it hard. Not a scene in first class passes without some mention of Rose's future being a Stepford Smiler surrounded by Upper Class Twits. And the scene where the family are revealed to be bankrupt, Ruth underlines the moral with "we're women, our choices are never easy."
  • Awesome Music: James Horner really outdid himself with the soundtrack to the point where it is one of the best-selling movie soundtracks of all time. Of course, he deservedly ended up winning the Original Score Oscar for his work on the film.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Kate Winslet's nude scene is considered one of the hottest ever, which is especially impressive for a PG-13 movie.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The comedic chase scene with Lovejoy pursuing Jack and Rose. It doesn't really need to happen, goes on for longer than necessary, and none of the characters involve really acknowledge it much afterward.
  • Cliché Storm: The biggest criticism of the film. For its detractors, the central love story is just one melodramatic romance cliché after another, which makes it unappealing to them and diminishes the real life tragedy it's supposed to be portraying.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The final minutes of the ship's sinking where the passengers tumble and fall from the stern with some even bouncing off obstacles such as gates. It's saddening and horrifying but you just can't help but laugh at times. The best known example of this is likely the propeller guy.
  • Genius Bonus: There is a small one involving the Hockley's. We are told that Cal's father made his fortune in steel. Cal mentions to Rose's mother while escorting her to dinner that there was "several thousand tons of Hockley steel in this very ship" in "all the right places, of course." Ruth teases that if anything goes wrong, they'll know who to hold accountable. If you've studied the sinking, you'd know that the ship's hull plates were made out of rolled steel, and that those plates buckled when the iceberg struck. Guess we have one more reason to hate Cal?
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The 2012 reissue of this film set a box-office record in China, opening at $67 million (more than it made in its entire 1998 run in the country).
  • Ham and Cheese: Billy Zane is going all out as a pompous Upper-Class Twit.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Considering the sinkings and cowardly actions of the captains and crew aboard the Costa Concordia and the Sewol, the heroic and professional choices of Captain Smith and the majority of Titanic's crew can be even more of a Tear Jerker for viewers, including those who have criticized them for the various mistakes that led to the sinking itself. At least they weren't in the first lifeboat leaving the ship, like the two captains and crew mentioned above, the latter of which resulted in nearly 300 children dying in the capsized Sewol. Women and children first...
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Jack dies and Rose lets his dead body float away. More than a decade later, Christopher Nolan's Inception came out, and the film opens up with DiCaprio's character washing up on a beach.
      • This is naturally picked up on during its RiffTrax. "Damn Titanic!"
    • Two Scandinavians named Sven and Olaf narrowly escape an icy demise... note 
    • Speaking of Disney, there's more pitch-black humor: Seven years prior to providing the One-Woman Wail for the Titanic soundtrack, Sissel Kyrkjebø was the voice of Ariel for the Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish versions of that movie. Ariel is a luckier redhead than Rose in that she saved the love of her life from a shipwreck.
    • There is another pair of characters close to each other named Rose and Jack.
  • Iron Woobie: Several of the surviving crew members (Lightoller, Fleet, and Joughin) who each had a difficult childhood with either an absent parent or a parent who died while they were still a child.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: To the point its popularity sank after a whileeven being named the worst movie ever! — but resurged during its 15th anniversary and 3D re-release.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • The hankie-grabbing reputation of the film guarantees that pretty much everyone knows that Jack dies during the sinking.
    • The Heart of the Ocean (the blue diamond) was with Rose the entire time and she drops it into the sea at the end.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Cal. He genuinely cannot understand how Rose could possibly be happy as the wife of a homeless man with no financial security. Hell, even today you could forgive him for being bewildered. His treatment of Rose is also a direct by-product of his upbringing and culture, though that doesn't make it any less deplorable. Rose and Jack themselves, meanwhile, are clearly ahead of their time as far as their values go (this may explain why so many people view them as anachronistic characters). In short, he genuinely believes he loves Rose but does not know how to show it properly, he loses her to Jack, and then gets to New York thinking that she's dead. For all we know, she could have been his Lost Lenore.
    • In support of this, one of the deleted scenes shows Cal on the Carpathia thinking he's found Rose, and rushing forward frantically... only to find out it's another woman. (And the real Rose, sitting nearby, even gets to witness this.) Whether a product of his times or not, the man clearly had issues in the way he treated Rose, but for that one moment at least, it seemed as if he really did love her on some level, and was desperately hoping to find her alive and safe. The shell-shocked look on his face in the lifeboat after Titanic had fully sunk (with Rose on it, as far as he knew) is also sobering.
    • The original script takes it even further, when he does find her alive and tries to make amends, the harrowing ordeal no doubt inspiring him to at least attempt a Heel–Face Turn. When she rebuffs him, he's genuinely heartbroken.
    • Then again, Cal is very aware that Rose has the diamond on her: "The diamond is in the coat. I put the coat on her!" and he clearly wants it. Given his actions on the ship, it's possible he's only looking for the diamond and is trying to sweet-talk her to get it.
    • Cal knows his whole reputation depends on Rose. His family was extremely wealthy, but being Pittsburgh steel barons, were still a bit of new money. He managed to find a girl who was not only at the apex of Philadelphia society, but was beautiful as well (it didn't matter if she had money or not, her name was all that was important). His money together with her pedigree meant he would be on top of the world. Then the Titanic sinks, his hot fiancee went down with the ship, and he didn't go down with her. How's he supposed to explain that one? Tell the truth? Cal would be shamed out of high society in much the same way Bruce Ismay was. A few years of guilt and shame, followed by the loss of his money, and it's easy to fathom his suicide.
    • Cameron claimed in an interview back when the film was first released that Cal searching for Rose onboard the Carpathia was out of love for her. Whether he would still say the same thing today or is another matter.
    • The script is very clear about it, actually. When she turns away from him after he confronts her on Carpathia it says plainly: "We see that in his way, the only way he knows, he does truly love her."
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Hands up, who just skips to when the ship's sinking?
    • The VHS release of the film splits into two cassettes and Tape #2 picks up a little after the ship actually hits the iceberg (specifically, with the scene with Cal slapping Rose and then the steward coming in to tell them to put lifebelts on), so you could have just started from there if you wanted. At least one DVD release also has two discs with this same deal.
    • If the Rose and Jack romance doesn't grab you, you'll be Rooting For The Iceberg by this point.
    • Not to mention the hordes of teenage fan girls who watched the movie only to see Leonardo DiCaprio.
    • The guys on the other hand, to see Kate Winslet pull a Diamonds in the Buff.
    • Some Titanic/maritime history enthusiasts enjoy this movie, not for the romantic plot but for being one of the more accurate depictions of the RMS Titanic disaster to date (albeit further research has debunked a few minor theories on how the ship sank since then). The Titanic sets and effects are stunning as well as the portrayals of historical characters, (although some really hate the inaccurate and negative portrayals of J. Bruce Ismay and Officer Murdoch.) Fans of A Night to Remember will also enjoy the many references to the film, to the point where it's almost a remake. The historical accuracy was so impressive that an accompanying CD-rom was released containing historical documents, blueprints, and first-hand accounts intercut with footage from the movie. It was basically possible to watch all of the non-romance focused scenes this way. Many of the cut scenes mentioned in the Alternative Character Interpretation entry were used for the CD-rom, giving more characterization to Andrews, Ismay, the wireless operators, and other historical figures.
  • Memetic Mutation: Loads, though the most famous remains Rose's declaration that she'll "never let go, Jack"...moments before she shoves him off her impromptu life raft, and we get a shot of him sinking into the depths. That and that damn song, which to this day can't be played without being mocked.
    • "I'm going to sink this bitch!"
    • "Jack, draw me like one of your French girls" — an image macro with this quote as a caption and a character in a suggestive pose as an image. Additional humour can be derived from the subject not being an attractive woman (or even human) and/or the pose not being intentionally suggestive.
    • "I'll just wait here!" and "It's been 84 years...", especially on Tumblr.
    • "I'm the king of the world!" Especially after Cameron said it upon getting one of his many Oscars for the film, which he later admitted was "making a jackass of myself."
    • Billy Zane manages to make a line as simple as "Find her" into one, with his Large Ham delivery and Fascinating Eyebrow.
    • Ready to Face Death with Dignity? Tell your True Companions, "Gentlemen, it's been an honor [{verb}ing with you]..." (cues up "Nearer, My God to Thee")
    • The "I'm flying" pose done by Jack and Rose is rather iconic and has been parodied quite a few times.
      • Years later, many people compared this to the "T-Posing" meme.
    • Discussions of whether Jack could have fit on the door are not uncommon. Sometimes accompanied by in-depth scientific measurements and/or enraged cries of "THEY COULD BOTH FIT!!"
    • The fact that apparently having Zoe Saldana in the cast is a requirement to beat the movie's box office record, with her being in both films that have done it. A popular addendum is that with her playing blue- and green-skinned aliens respectively in those films, she'll have to become yet another color to do it again.
  • Misblamed:
    • Jack and Rose get blamed for distracting the lookouts and causing them to sight the iceberg when it's too late. However, the iceberg comes into view after they get back to looking ahead.
    • Claims that Jack and Rose should have taken turns on the door (this would have killed them both) and to a lesser extent, that the door would have accommodated both of them. Mythbusters tackled the latter and discovered that yes, they would indeed both have fit, but at the cost of partially submerging them in 28 degree water (the Mythbusters' solution of using the life jackets to bolster the boat remains just as contentious). Both do try to get on the door at one point, it nearly flips over, and while they could have conceivably tried again with more success, there are also ample reasons why Jack wouldn't have wanted to risk it.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Cal Hockley crosses it when he decides to frame Jack for stealing the Heart of the Ocean. This was around the time the Titanic hit the iceberg too, and so Jack would have drowned in the brig if it weren't for Rose saving him. When Cal tries to redeem himself (in Rose's eye's at least), it is still shown he wishes to leave Jack to die. When Rose ultimately refuses to leave the boat without Jack, Cal attempts to shoot them both, in public no less. Not Good with Rejection much?
      • Given that, it's still possible that Jack might have been allowed to leave the brig... if Cal had not specifically ordered Lovejoy to sock him in the gut and leave him there.
      • In an earlier version of the script, Cal actually murders Fabrizio in cold blood by beating him to death. In the final cut, however, Fabrizio is killed by the ship's falling smokestack.
    • Lovejoy crosses it when he pockets the key to Jack's handcuffs and leaves him in the master-at-arms' office before it starts to flood. If that's not enough, he also attempts to shoot Rose in a deleted scene.
  • Narm Charm: There's a reason many aspects of this movie are often parodied, but a fair chunk of those parodies are in some measure affectionate. Not for nothing did Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips once call it "the worst-written film I ever happily saw twice".
  • Nightmare Fuel: The entire sequence of the Titanic sinking. The utter hysteria of the situation and the despair we see as so many people tried in vain to somehow stay alive is quite disturbing to say the least. It was probably even worse in real life.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • "I'm king of the world!". That line was yelled out by Homer Simpson seven years prior.
    • The line "I'd rather be his whore than your wife!" was also said verbatim earlier on Twin Peaks.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Propeller Guy. He appeared for all of 2 seconds, and yet everybody remembers him.
  • Popularity Polynomial: When the film was released, it was a box office hit and won 11 Oscars including the much coveted Best Picture and Best Director. However, its fame in the 2000's plus the squeeing Leo fangirls turned the movie into a pathetic joke at worst and something people wouldn't admit they liked at best. However, it has become more acceptable again thanks to its 3D re-release, and the fame of its leading stars.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Ioan Gruffudd is Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, the one that rescues Rose from the icy waters. Lowe was the only lifeboat commander to go back to look for survivors.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: A common point of criticism is that the story of the Titanic and its sinking is dramatic and interesting enough to not need the somewhat formulaic and cliched "star-crossed lovers" romance taking up all the attention.
  • Signature Scene: Several well-known (and oft-parodied) scenes:
    • The scene where Jack draws Rose in the diamond necklace... just the necklace.
    • Jack and Rose standing at the front of the ship with their arms stretched out before having their first kiss.
    • Jack standing at the front of the ship yelling "I'm the king of the world!"
    • The ship breaking in half and sinking.
    • The "I'll never let go" scene (cue tissues).
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: First there's the framing device, then there's the love story and then the ship sinking. A lot of people prefer to skip straight ahead to the sinking.
  • Snark Bait: Dear God, is this movie one of the poster children of this trope for film! To be more specific:
    • Thanks in part to all the Memetic Mutation and Hype Backlash, the movie was the epitome of Snark Bait for movie fans since its release in 1997. This has lessened as time went on, but it's still far from having disappeared.
    • "My Heart Will Go On" became snark bait on its own, due to the same reasons and because it was probably more overexposed than the movie itself thanks to the fact that you just couldn't escape from it on TV and the radio. The fact that it was sung by Céline Dion, who is also Snark Bait incarnate among elitist music fans, didn't help much.
  • Special Effect Failure: Although it's considered one of the biggest visual effect achievements of the late 90s, it still had few instances of this.
    • The film has one of the first digital face replacements, i.e. the faces of two stunt doubles are replaced with the faces of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in one scene. It is painfully obvious, to say the least.
    • A few times during the sinking where there's a few revealing shots, people hitting foam and rubber objects, people sliding down on skateboards.
    • At one point, when Rose is approaching Jack on deck, the background of the ship looks extremely fake and cartoonish.
    • Until it was corrected in the 10th anniversary DVD and 3D rerelease, the night sky was mirrored, with two identical halves.
    • It's hard to see at first because it goes by so quickly but if you watch when the first funnel falls over and crashes into the water you can see during the impact that it's not the same funnel, it is missing several features as well as being covered with holes. The black paint on top is missing as well. According to a behind-the-scenes documentary, they dropped an empty tank from a truck trailer on the water to make the effect.
    • When the ship is about the break in two, a stock gunshot sounds when a plank cracks.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Cal might be a controlling scum who starts to Kick the Dog more frequently as the movie goes on, but he is Rose's fiancè, and has every right to be angry about her going to a party with the guy she had just met yesterday. Being just unchaperoned friends was out of the question for the time, and it's worth noting he initially thought that Jack had attempted to rape Rose, not truly buying Rose's mostly-true explanation that she merely fell over the railing and he saved her.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: RMS Titanic buffs and people who hate the Jack and Rose romance may be interested to hear that the film had one hour of deleted scenes and another of unfilmed scenes in the original script, and that most of them were based on real people aboard the ship and their experiences during the sinking. In fact, it could have been perfectly possible for Cameron to cut all the Jack and Rose scenes, film the others, and still have a coherent plot!
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: A few flubs aside, the film had some very groundbreaking effects for its day, both in practical and digital effects, which naturally won it the Oscar for Visual Effects.
  • What an Idiot!: The immigrant Jack and Rose come across in the rapidly flooding steerage hallway. He carries his son to a doorway that's ready to burst open with water just to grab their luggage. This after he yells at Jack when he and Rose try bringing him to safety. And looking like a Deer in the Headlights, the door opens and they get swept away.
  • The Woobie: It is not hard to feel sorry for Jack. He is an orphan since he was fifteen years old and homeless, not to mention his harsh, brutal death in icy water. He noticed Rose when she was at her most vulnerable (trying to kill herself) and was willing to listen and care about how she felt when no one else would.
    • Any child victim in the sinking really counts, especially those who died.
    • None of the dogs shown in the film were Pekes or Poms, meaning all of them died.
    • The majority of the 3rd class passengers, who weren't even given a chance to make it to the lifeboats, including (but not limited to) Fabrizio, Tommy Ryan, Cora (and her parents), the Irish mother and her two children, etc.


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