Why did people love Titanic 1997 and hate Pearl Harbor 2001


Thomas Kelly

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Jan 13, 2005
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It seems a bit odd to me. They are both fictional love triangles set in real events. I would say they are pretty equal overall, but critics and the public gushed over Titanic and crucified Pearl Harbour. Anyone who's seen both films have any idea why?
 

Lori Coleman

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Feb 15, 2005
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Ben Affleck. ;)

Seriously, I didn't hate 'Pearl Harbor', but I didn't like it either. It left me cold. I think I liked 'Titanic' so much because it was about the Titanic. If that love story had been set anywhere else, I wouldn't have cared one way or the other. But I liked the way the screenplay put Jack and Rose all over the ship so that we could see so much of what was going on.

'Pearl Harbor' just didn't seem as emotional or involving. It tried too hard to be an 'epic' and just ended up being long and overwrought.

And many people would say the same thing about 'Titanic'. *shrugs*
 
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Adam Lang

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I don't think anyone really hated "Pearl Harbor." Of course, most people think "Titanic" was a lot better. Lori's probably right. I liked "Titanic" better because it was about the Titanic. A sinking ship. What better place to have a love story? I didn't really care for the love story, but I think the Titanic is a better setting for it.

And (correct me if I'm wrong) there are probably more people who are interested in the Titanic than Pearl Harbor.

-Adam Lang
 
Jun 12, 2004
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>>And (correct me if I'm wrong) there are probably more people who are interested in the Titanic than Pearl Harbor.<<

Oh, I wouldn't say that. There are quite a few WW II buffs out there. However, I would agree with the fact that it was about Titanic, but I would clarify that it may have a lot to do with the special effects, the wreck shots, the realism, etc., because people have been curious for a long time about a lot of the mystery behind Titanic. It seemed as though, in some strange way, the movie provided 'answers' to a lot of unanswered questions. People were drawn to it, perhaps, for that reason.

Oh, and let's not forget Leonardo DiCaprio. ;)
 
Nov 30, 2000
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I hate both movies with equal passion.
I will (largely, LOL) save my breath for once re: Cameron's Titanic film but I especially hate "Pathetic Harbor" since I knew a USS Arizona survivor when I was a boy (a VERY sweet person, btw, who became the 6th survivor to return to his old ship in 1992. :-( ), something which makes December 7th, 1941, a personal matter for me as well as a historical topic of fascination. Hardly a day goes by when I am studying the day of infamy that I wish I could go back and tell my friend just how much I now understand what he went through and how much I appreciate how he helped save the world -and my generation- in World War Two.
Remembering Pearl Harbor is something visceral to me and always will be....
Anyhoo, Jerry Brucheimer and Micheal Bay only gave lip service to paying respect for the story in their film and ran roughshod over protests from the vets who were there and wound up making a godawful travesty that slaps in the face the memory of my friend, all the other Pearl vets I have been privileged to meet, and, heck, everyone else who played a part in the tale (including the Japanese)...and for the record, btw, while Pearl Harbor survivors at the premiere of Bay and Bruckheimer's turkey praised it, ALL of the vets I myself have talked to disliked it to a man! Would have been the fate of Cameron's movie had survivor's with vivid memories of the sinking and of personal loss had been alive in numbers in 1997, IMHO.
My own dramatic PH writings that I am currently working on (ulitmately to become part of volume one of a Pacific war trilogy) are in part aimed at making up for Bruckheimer and Bay's insipid, incompetent, sex and gore-soaked (ahem)drama "Pearl Harbor". Guess you could say I'm pulling a "Final Countdown" on that which attacked Pearl Harbor for the second time and aim to blow it out of the water! :) Truth, lest we forget, is more powerful than any weapon in the world.

Richard

"You wanted 'confirmation'? Take a look! There's your 'confirmation' sir!"

"Helmsman! Turn the Nimitz into the wind!"
 
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I don't hate either movie, actually. They both have their pros and cons. I enjoyed Titanic more simply because I have a stronger interest in the subject. But at one time I was enough of a Pearl Harbor enthusiast to purchase the director's cut DVD version of the film, so for awhile I was a big fan.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Pearl Harbor really came off as TWO movies to me.

First movie - the love story primarily told in the first hour, and last hour.

Second movie - the attack.

You could have taken the middle out, and still had a reasonable movie. You could take both ends off, and still had a reasonable movie of the attack.

All together? They just didn't mesh. The middle really not much to do with the rest.

Titanic? The love story and the sinking were part of one big plot.
 

Thomas Kelly

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Jan 13, 2005
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I understand why you would all prefer "Titanic" - I mean, this IS a Titanic forum! I was thinking of the likes of the ratings on rotten tomatoes from critics (Titanic 86%, Pearl Harbour 25%). The public opinion on IMDB is a bit more even though (Titanic 6.9, Pearl Harbour 5.4).
 
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'I understand why you would all prefer "Titanic"'

I don't like it (natch) so I am the wild card here. :)
Oh yes, one more disrespectful comment for "Pathetic Harbor": such a travesty, concocted nearly sixty years after December 7th, 1941, is eloquent proof about how the memory of the day of infamy has faded, since the filmmakers apporached the topic without any honor in their hearts towards it (and the vet's protests be darned) but cloaked their statements about it in respectful hipocrisy. They did not approach it with the same respect that Richard Fleischer did with "Tora! Tora! Tora!" or even Peter Douglas with "The Final Countdown" (ironic, isn't it? The sci-fic Pearl epic is more respectful towards the subject than the bloated coustume drama about the same!) Doubtless because of how close in the past the story had taken place when they made their dramas (of course, "Pearl" the miniseries was a royal clunker, but that was just a fluke, since movies are art, TV a piece of furniture. :) )
Popular culture can be such a corrupting influence on the memory of a great tragic event. Let us hope any 9/11 dramas that will be made way in the future avoid the stupid ficitonal plot-addled pitfalls of the likes of "Titanic" and "Pearl Harbor".

Richard
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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>>Let us hope any 9/11 dramas that will be made way in the future avoid the stupid ficitonal plot-addled pitfalls of the likes of "Titanic" and "Pearl Harbor"<<

However, for the sake of the box-office, producers tend to throw in a love story for these kind of shows to attract viewers that are not interested in the historical fact itself. If its was purely historical film, chances are the viewership would be low, and it would more probable to screen it in science centres than cinemas. Few documentaries draw the crowds in like a love story does.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Let us hope any 9/11 dramas that will be made way in the future avoid the stupid ficitonal plot-addled pitfalls of the likes of "Titanic" and "Pearl Harbor". <<

Don't count on it, Richard. Most movies are made and edited the way they are because the market studies indicate that this is the sort of thing audiences want. Were it otherwise, my bet is that Titanic and Pearl Harbor would have looked a lot like one of those dry as bones "You Are There" docudramas that CBS produced when I was a young 'un.

Sappy love stories and a little bit of gratuitous sex may be a bit of a turn off to the historically minded, but like it or not, that's what sells tickets at the box office.
 
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I dare anyone to try to label "Gettysburg", "Gods And Generals", "We Were Soldiers" or "Band Of Brothers" a "documentary".
Filmmakers fail to see that there are true HUMAN stories located within a historical saga and if you select some of the best of them, there is your human interest (Lewis Armisted in "Gettysburg" is a good example of this).
The current Hollywood methods for historical dramas are sterile, insipid, and innane. I disagree with such brainwashed junk heatedly.

Richard
 
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Oy, SPR rates "honorable mention" here. :)
And just what IS wrong with a "documentary-style" movie? Cameron affected to nitpick the documentary-style, but lifted sequences from "A Night To Remember" and incorporated them into his film.
Randall Wallace lifted the "sleeping giant" line from "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and incorporated it into his script.
Maybe documentary-style flicks have it good, considering the above cases of plagarisim from two of the best of them?

Richard
 

Jim Kalafus

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Hi Richard: >The current Hollywood methods for historical dramas are sterile, insipid, and inane. I disagree with such brainwashed junk heatedly

Kind of makes one long for the days of script doctors, doesn't it! Watching Titanic, I kept wondering if NO ONE in Cameron's organization took the time to say "Chained to a pipe AFTER the collision? That would have seemed contrived and old hat in 1912 for Chr*st's sake. Who are we going to cast in that scene, Gloria Swanson and Bobby Vernon?" Did no one say "our female lead character is kind of obnoxious, maybe we should give her at least one commendable quality?" Did no one point out that the male lead seemed incapable of successfully arguing his case with a clerk at Quik-E-Mart who shortchanged him, no less hold his own with the gamblers at the beginning of the film, and that-possibly- casting him as a student rather than a "man of the world" might have aided in the realism department?

I think that what bothered me about Titanic, other than the fact that $250 million or whatever it cost could produce something so incredibly shoddy in places (let's face it, the computer generated Titanic looked WORSE than the minature work in ANTR, and the "glow" around Jack and Rose when they are on the stern- what was that, a tribute to 1960s Godzilla vs...films and bad Chroma-key) was that ALL of the character (with the exceptions of Old Rose and her grand daughter) were loathesome, and it was impossible to care one way or the other who lived or died. A "history" film does not have to be 100% accurate to be effective, but what it needs is a tight script and engaging characters - witness A League Of Their Own which, despite being History Lite, WORKS as a film in a way Titanic can't.

Same problems with Pearl Harbor. Big budget, big FX, and the end result was a film which left one not caring about any of the leads - in fact, if a title card had announced "...and none survived...." at the end, it might have raised a wry smile, which is NOT, I am sure, what the film makers had in mind.
 

rob scott

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I didn't hate Pearl Harbor and didn't think it was as 'bad' as all the word of mouth and crits, and amateur crits out there in the chat world; but I did get a little 'insipid' and 'inane' feel from it too; the Titanic love story, even though schmalzy and not airtight, was just classier and funner and more chasing through the climax to the crescendo so to speak, the way they went through the ship and then drifting in the water, and her reaching out her voice and whistle to the white boat. Pearl would have been better if they hadn't tacked on the B25 raid, it just seemed to quash the rythm and timing of the movie for me, it just didn't fit for me. But the DP work and the lighting and colour were wonderful, and the recreation of the day's events, and the car running from fighters was awesome if a bit overdone: and that overdone feeling, however level of true, was what bothered most viewers. Didn't this movie just 'try too hard?'

I watched it once, all the way; it wasn't terrible: but I didn't watch it six times or buy it either. Kate was good if a bit not fully formed enough.

With the Ti one, I wasn't one of those expecting anally (izzatt a word?) everything to be perfect, accuracy of the tech aspects of the ship and then complain 'how could they get that so wrong?!' .. I enjoyed the drifter character grabbing all the experience and travel life has to offer, he wasn't a man of the world knowing everything, he was a wannabe-worldly at the beginning of a great journey to see all and grab life lustfully and I dug that, and the sheltered girl diving in and learning that too and then escaping the trapped domestic world of many women and live, Live, Live! - I totally loved the scene with panning down her row of wonderful live-live photos as she's heading toward her grand finale, a stagewoman, a horsewoman, and airwoman, and all that jazz. And this Kate was grand, really drew me in. and that diamond in the palm scene at the end as it goes over the transom with a little 'oops' : a tear in my eye for all the memories. The Pearl thing just didn't have that same feel quotient. imho

This one I bought, the vhs widescreen boxset and watched it five times so far.
 
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Oy, Jim. Old Rose and her daughter (the only cute chick in the entire flick, btw! :) ) were the most pleasant of the characters.
"Script doctors"? Wow, you mean they actually used to review scripts for storyline quality?
Could you tell me a bit more about 'em? It's interesting.
I also agree that a historical epic need not be 100% accurate due to the limitations of the medium, but it should do honor to the era and/or event and be a good story, be it ficiton or fact-based.

"But the DP work and the lighting and colour were wonderful, and the recreation of the day's events, and the car running from fighters was awesome if a bit overdone"

It was ALL overdone, rob (IMO), especially the gratuitous combat scenes at Pearl (WOMEN getting BLWON UP by the attacking Japanese planes?!?! Pearl Harbor was many things, but the Rape of Nanking even it was not). And all of the American's save for Hartnett, Affleck, and Gooding Jr. being there mainly just to take a bullet or drown was a grotesque insult to the memory of the brave men who really fought there such as my good friend who was on the Arizona. There was just no honor to it's depiction of the raid at all, plus it was cartoony.
One example:
Sailors happily playing dice on the deck of a battleship as a cloud of Japanese planes deploys in the background? Get real! The IJN planes that were really directly over the harbor at the start of the raid, believe it or not, were just a group of "Val" dive bombers heading for the seaplane base on Ford Island. That was it, and considering the deductions of Vals to hit other bases on Oahu in the first wave, the group of Vals over Pearl managed to be small enough in numbers so as to not arouse undue suspicion (apart from a sailor on the battleship California thinking a Russian carrier was visiting due to not knowing what the red circles on the wing's meant!)
The two groups of torpedo planes in the first wave (and the only torpons to take part in the whole attack) were flying low and swiftly and hugging the ground as they approached the harbor to make their runs as they were supposed to since to launch a "fish" at your target you had to be low and slow, and were not still at high altitude, and the level bombing group was off Barber's point waiting for the torpedo planes to finish their runs on the ships before they made their own attacks.
The entire Japanese first wave had divided up after making landfall in which the assinged sub groups of bombers and fighters headed for Wheeler Field, Kaneohe Naval Air Station, and Hickam Field, thus reducing the number of planes actually bound for Pearl itself.
If there had been as many planes directly over Pearl at the start of the raid as is in Bay and Bruckheimeir's travesty, general quarters would have been going on every ship at anchor for
the planes would have raised an unearthly din and made all hands on deck look up and spot the "meatballs" on their wings, if not their sheer numbers would have drawn attention for there never had been that big a formation flying over Pearl since the fleet had been based there. Indeed, such a deployment would have waken the fleet up rather than been something viewd as routine. O Hollywood epics, what a tissue of lies thou can be.
Just my two bits yet again. :)

Richard
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I dare anyone to try to label "Gettysburg", "Gods And Generals", "We Were Soldiers" or "Band Of Brothers" a "documentary". <<

I don't recall that anyone here did that. I go to Hollywood for entertainment, not history. Others might differ, but that's that way of it. Every moviegoer for himself.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I go to Hollywood for entertainment, not history

Hi, Mike! Me too..... I can happily accept minor anachronisms if the film is entertaining (witness the part in a League of Their own in which Geena Davis and her husband set off to drive from Chicago to- I believe- Washington State in a car with a ration sticker on the windshield which would have given them 5 gallons) but when the characters are so unappealing and the story so sluggish and ill paced that eyeing the sets, spotting anachronisms and laughing at stupid plot devices and trite dialogue ("Jack, this is where we met!") BECOMES the chief entertainment value in the movie, I start to get irritated.

>Script doctors"? Wow, you mean they actually used to review scripts for storyline quality?
Could you tell me a bit more about 'em? It's interesting.

Yes, believe it or not, once upon a time when the studios called the shots, there were people who did just that. It is not inconceivable that some harsh faced schoolmarmish woman (or man for that matter) might have slapped the Titanic shooting script down on a table and said "Mr. Cameron....you've had Jack say 'Rose, you are so special' fifty times in seventy five minutes of running time, and you've not shown us ONE special quality. Why dont you eliminate 49 of the Rose You Are So Specials and write a scene or two showing how special she is?" or perhaps even "Chained to a PIPE? What the hell is this, a $250 mil nickelodeon reel? You've GOT to be kidding! If you MUST used the 'hopelessly trapped' plot device, why not just have a door jam?"

Funny thing is, when one watches the restored versions of "butchered" films one generally realises just how savvy the dreaded studio heads and script doctors really were. The complete versions of A Star is Born (1954) and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World aren't better than the 'butchered' versions, only longer (and in the case of It's a Mad...etc, PAINFULLY longer) and while sitting through most of today's draggy epics I find myself wishing for the emergence of latter day L.B. Mayers and Jack Warners who could 'ruthlessly' step upon the toes of auteurs to ensure quality output.

That said, the immediate "post studio" years produced a plethora of films which can be described as both "brilliant" and "commercial." Raging Bull? History/tight pace/appealing cast/commercial. I think my mounting hatred of Titanic stems from the facts that a) it represents a wasted opportunity to recapture the time when a film could be smart and commercial, and B) it takes every last flaw in current film making and presents them, in exaggerated 50 foot high form, over a running time which is at least an hour too long. It reminds me, for some reason, of Peter Bogdanovich's you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it-but-you-DONT-want-to-see-it epic vanity project At Long Long Last Love (1975) a musical salute to Cole Porter and the films of the 1930s, in which a king's ransom was squandered on a glossy, shoddy, piece of dreck in which non singing, non-dancing Burt Reynolds, Cybil Shephard, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan and many others were forced to both sing and dance LIVE on film (the first musical filmed since 1933 which did not use post production dubbing) resulting in the cinematic equivalent of an unanethestized amputation....I came away from both films with the same feeling of "How could they let that HAPPEN?" Titanic, at least, made money and did not require cast members to perform full blown musical numbers sans dubbing.
 
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I've pretty given up on proactively hating films, no matter how much they deserve it. (I'll make an exception for "Apocolypse Now" which I thought to be one of the most dreary flicks I've ever seen.) I suppose I could launch into some very long rants about how truely dreadful some of them are and get quite a bit of agreement, but in the end, those flicks will still be there, and still be popular. That probably says a lot more about the audiances then it does about the producers, the latter of whom have to cater to the market that *actually* exists rather then the one we *wish* existed.

Audiances seem to want anachronistic drek and sex acts in spaces so uncomfortable that the author(s) of the Kama Sutra would flinch. So long as they're willing to fork over billions of dollars at the box office to see it, Hollywood will continue to give them just that.

More's the pity as far as I'm concerned.
 

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