By Michele Yeo
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the epic – and doomed – love story at sea, Titanic, returns to theatres this weekend to commemorate the film’s 25th anniversary. This is where I make the most obvious joke in the world and say that, at 25, Titanic is officially too old for Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo’s heart has definitely gone on, apparently right on over to a 19-year-old. But that’s another piece for another day. And also perhaps, as Kris Jenner would say, a case for the FBI.
While Titanic originally hit theatres just before Christmas, on December 19th, 1997 to be exact, it was on February 14th 1998 that the film really popped off in theatres, seeing its highest single day gross. So, director James Cameron decided the weekend before Valentine’s Day was the perfect time for the blockbuster to sail back into theatres, this time with a 3D 4K HDR and high frame rate upgrade with the addition of Atmos sound (I don’t know what most of that means but sounds cool?) The restored version won’t feature any extras or additional scenes because frankly, it’s already three hours long and ain’t nobody got the attention span for that. But near, far, wherever you are, you can experience Titanic on the big screen for the first or, if you’re me, the fifth time.
It’s impossible to deny the pop cultural impact of Titanic. The movie made instant stars out of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, although the latter was already enjoying new young heartthrob status thanks to his turn in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet the year previously. Titanic though, sent Leo into the stratosphere. The movie was number one at the box office for 15 weeks and became the first to cross the billion dollar mark, it was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and walked away with 11. It was the highest grossing movie of all time until James Cameron’s other film, Avatar eventually usurped it. Titanic had people declaring “I’m the king of the world” at every minor victory and its soundtrack, thanks in large part to Celine Dion, went to number one in 20 countries.
Rewatching the movie 25 years later is a real trip and a few things stick out. First, Leonardo DiCaprio was undeniably beautiful. That shot of him in the tuxedo at the top of the staircase by the clock with that slicked back hair? Have mercy. Someone fetch my smelling salts! It’s unfortunate he’s turned out to be an ageing cliché trolling high school graduation ceremonies for new girlfriends, but 1997 Leo? Impeccable. And speaking of, Kate Winslet is simply stunning. The first glimpse we catch of her flawless face under that oversized purple hat? Perfection. And speaking of perfection, can we talk about Bill Paxton’s cable knit sweater? It just might rival Chris Evans’ in Knives Out for the title of ultimate cinematic cardigan.
Watching a three hour movie is certainly a different undertaking in this, the year of our Lord 2023 than it was back in 1997/1998 but there’s a certain nostalgia that might just keep you enthralled. And who doesn’t love the opportunity to revisit the age old debate about whether or not there was enough room for Jack on that makeshift door raft? For the record, James Cameron scientifically tested it and concluded that while there may have been room for two, it would have ultimately sunk under the weight of both Rose and Jack potentially killing them both.
Something else that comes to mind during a 2023 rewatch:, is Prince Harry the modern day Rose Dewitt-Bakater? Society sweetheart Rose longs to break free of her gilded cage and find independence saying, “I saw my life as if I already lived it. An endless parade of parties and cotillions, yachts and polo matches.” It’s why she gravitates towards Jack in the first place. It’s giving Harry and his exodus from the Royal Family. Although, in present day, as we’re all paying $400 for a carton of eggs, those cotillions and yachts sound pretty appealing, even if you are trapped in a loveless family. Cal, if you’re still out there? Call me. I’ll be your wife. And I’d never throw the Heart of the Ocean into the icy waters of the Atlantic. That’s crazy. That diamond will get you a package of chicken at Loblaws in 2023.