Why Titanic Works

"The movie has a big, babbling, stupid, awesome heart, and its hokiness and dopiness is central to its charm. All the great universal entertainers, the ones who moved the world rather than a select group of cultish admirers, have had a certain crazy tunnel vision to them, a total inability to see shades of gray, or understand jaundiced views of the world. (Think Michael Jackson, or Charlie Chaplin, or Steven Spielberg.) Titanic went huge — dominated the movie world, even still to this day—because it touched on basic, universally held human concepts of love and fate and time and loss. It did this in an extremely obvious way, but that's a reason to admire it and to mock it." [Deadspin]


  • ILDC says:

    Is it the same for Avatar?

    • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

      Not really. There was a more humane practicality to Titanic. I dunno if it's the mo-cap or what, but Avatar's heart feels ultimately unknowable to me.

      • sweetbiscuit says:

        Agreed. I think the lead performances are better in Titanic, too -- that counts a lot for how much you care about what happens. And if you read the Avatar script (and are not being dazzled by the visuals), the more wretched quality of the dialogue is obvious, too. I mean, really WRETCHED.

  • The Pope says:

    I also think it has to do with the fact that in Titanic, we're looking at human faces. Yes, they turn blue in the icy-water but at least they are human. In Avatar...

  • Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston says:

    The ship went down, but owing to Jack's love, Rose did not. Not just that she survived -- she didn't so much survive, which connotes simply being lucky, anyway, but lasted through -- but with Jack's sensitive but persistant leadership, she became the person she had the potential to become. After the ship hits the iceberg, the test really is about how much our now witnissing the legendary historical event we came to see, can trump the human story we were encouraged to involve ourselves with. It's quite the test, but fruition of love persists through the storm of life-stumping trauma.

  • Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston says:

    There is a way in which Avatar is the opposite of Titanic. In Titanic, the advisor character, who would not have his charge lose her/his independence and join the pack, is a hero; in Avatar, he's the villain. Not succumbing to the draws of the pack -- standing out -- is the thrill Titanic offers: "Goodbye, Mother." Avatar is the reassurance and sense of begetted endless provisioning of in fact succumbing to home: "Eywa has heard you!" In Titanic, fantastic by-the-moment improvisation and huge gut is Jack and Rose's, and it gets Jack out of being chained and both back to surface-level of the ship; in Avatar, it's Quaritch's, as it gets him from out of a downing airship back into solid fighting form. The difference being that being pure fight isn't as much rewarded in the latter film -- in preference to relapse. There are, I judge, very good reasons for preferring Titanic way over Avatar.

  • KevyB says:

    I'm with the writing branch of the Oscars who said it didn't work. I'm obsessed with script, and those first two hours are just torture for me. So poorly written. Then there's the amazing third hour that apparently makes most people forget what a predictable slog the first two were.

  • Max Renn says:

    Titanic is also perhaps the ultimate reminder to the human race of hubris.