Why do people dislike the 1997 Titanic movie?

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Sharks, seals, sea lions? What about the dreaded swallow?

At my club, the good news is that cormorants and seagulls don't crap all over the boats. The bad news is that the swallows do! The rotten little sods live under the marina walkways and even on little-used boats. As I walk to my yacht, I often have 50 or so swallows flying before me.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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On land, try Turkey Buzzards, which have overrun parts of Westchester County in NY due to the elimination of natural competition and hunting. A friend of mine generated an unintentional laugh when describing what it is like to have prospective buyers of one's home greeted by a flock of buzzards sitting on one's roof, lawn and "For Sale" sign.

Stanley-

> or was this all part of the exercise in character assassination that permeated the entire film as far as the officers were concerned?

No- I think it was just a symbol of the odd attention to detail/inattention to detail that plagues this film like....uhhhh....nagging cold sores. You can hear the wheels turning, or the gears stripping, in many of the scenes: "He's English. English drink tea. Tea is served in delicate china cups." Hollywood LOVES to portray English people drinking tea from delicate cups~ it is a cheap way of 'telegraphing' to the viewers that the character is English and a lot easier than expecting the scriptwriter/director/actor to do any deeper research. It's the Hollywood "English" equivalent of showing a character eating a big slice of watermelon to authenticate his or her 'blackness.'

But in a film where a perfectly tailored tux emerges from Molly Brown's luggage as a way of realistically getting Jack into dinner (what Roger Ebert calls "The Idiot Plot Device") the English=tea cup symbolism is a positively brilliant moment. Just has to be viewed in context.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Hello Jim,

Yes, I fully understand what you mean about telegraphing the message that Lightoller was English — this is another illustration of what I mean by Cameron’s Titanic being mildly irritating to many of its critics. To be fair, British films used to indicate that a character was a naval type by portraying him drinking tea (or perhaps cocoa) from a large mug on the bridge of a destroyer/corvette/ocean liner/whatever (see, for example, In Which We Serve or Dunkirk). Conversely, if a naval officer was shown delicately sipping tea from a China cup during the Battle of the Atlantic the implication would be that he was effeminate — or, as they would probably have said in back in 1912, a bit of a “Nancy boy”￾.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>A friend of mine generated an unintentional laugh when describing what it is like to have prospective buyers of one's home greeted by a flock of buzzards sitting on one's roof, lawn and "For Sale" sign.<<

Pffffffftttttttt!!!!!!
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I can just imagine the impression this would leave at a restaurant.
 

Kas01

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May 24, 2018
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I'm just surprised that in the nearly 20 years that this thread has been up, no one has mentioned that Rose is a Mary Sue-type character. Let's take a look at this Common Mary Sue Traits - TV Tropes page and go down the list.

1. Personality: Other than "Strong Late 90's Feminist Icon/Sex Symbol Who Don't Need No Stinking Man, Yet Falls For Leonardo DiCaprio Anyway", there really isn't that much to differentiate Rose from the other first class characters other than the fact that she really, really hates Cal, and really, really is in lust with Jack. This is a character with very few defining traits outside of her relationships with other characters.

Character flaws? What the hell are those? (Ignore the gossipy hen BS about Madeleine Astor, everybody does it, so it isn't bad). She's this all-loving heroine who can simply do no wrong even if she tried, even to a fault, and that includes cheating on her fiancee. Rescuing her newfound squeeze and the odd kid stuck on board? Sure, why the hell not?

2. Skills: Where the hell does Rose DeWitt Never Swung Anything Heavier Than A Tennis Racket Bukater learn to handle a fire ax, of all things? Granted, Kate Winslet hits Leo on the hand anyway, but we're supposed to believe that this cherubic 17-year-old girl is an instant expert with regards to rescuing people? And for that matter, what of her obviously intellectual pursuits? Are we supposed to believe that a girl who knows about Freudian psychology five or so years before Freud himself and collects Picasso paintings doesn't know that Monet doesn't do portraits, but landscapes?

3. Physical Appearance: We don't need to be reminded that Kate Winslet is a beautiful woman, but beautiful first-class newlyweds or recently engaged women were a dime a dozen on board Titanic (admittedly, the aforementioned Mrs. Astor, Mary Eloise Smith, Helen Bishop, and Mary Marvin were pregnant, thus somewhat reducing their sex appeal or glamor, depending on if you're a guy or girl). Hell, go down into steerage and tell me with a straight face that Kate Gilnagh or the fictional Helga was anything but a looker. But no, we need to constantly be reminded that "Congratulations, Hockley, she's splendid" or "Forget it, boyo. You're as like to have angels fly out your arse as get next to the likes of her". And even at her worst, Rose simply looks like a typical bored teenage girl rather than sick to her stomach or in dread, as she's supposed to be.

4. Accessories: The MacGuffin itself, The Heart of the Ocean. Thank God it doesn't allow for time travel.

5. Character Relationships: Every waking moment we see of Jack and his buddies, who I can barely be arsed to remember their names, they're talking about Rose. Even the Italian dude, who has his own girlfriend, mind you (and is a foil to Rose) spends more time talking about Rose than he does about Helga, the girlfriend, or quite literally anything else, for that matter.

And it's certainly believable for Thomas Andrews to single out the minor wife-to-be over a late 20s-early 30s steel magnate for special attention. Totally. Believable.

6. Story Elements: The entire story reeks of Old Rose self-mythologizing. She never expounds on her background-what did the Bukaters do, anyway? All we know is that they're from Philly. What caused her family to lose its fortune and what caused her to be engaged to a douchenugget living 300 miles away? We're never supposed to feel ashamed of her, as everything that's morally wrong is romanticized or sexualized, or both at once. At the very least Cal had some characterization in a deleted scene that made us sympathize for the guy, no matter how much of an asshole he was.

7. Name: At the very least, this is the one thing that's justified, as it's not too ridiculously out of the realm of being possible, but Rose is the only character using her full name (the aforementioned Mary Eloise Smith never appeared in the film, and in any case, "Mary Smith" would be too generic to actually know who we were talking about).

8. Presentation: Yes, the story is entirely in first-person, and we never hear anything about other characters except for how they relate to Rose. There's no room for introspection, be that whether or not Rose's mother is domineering because she doesn't know anything else or whether or not it's a good idea to cheat on your fiancee with a broke transient who cavorts with Parisian hookers. None at all.

The real problem with the Cameron film isn't that its tropes are hackneyed or unimaginative, although these are still problems. It's that its main character is a poorly written, self-mythologizing Mary Sue.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I can just imagine the impression this would leave at a restaurant.

Next time I'm at a restaurant with Turkey Buzzards roosting over the valet parking kiosk, I'll get a picture. Where I live, in Putnam County, we are plagued with an excess of geese that have turned most of the lakes into....uhhhh...fecal petri dishes, and have made walking barefoot by any lake or pond a distant memory. But the buzzards are worse~ demented looking, if it is possible for a bird to look so, with a tendency to roost for the remainder of their natural lives in your yard. "We have buyers coming up from NYC- try to scare off the vultures" is more than just a pretty phrase.

>Conversely, if a naval officer was shown delicately sipping tea from a China cup during the Battle of the Atlantic...

...I'd say that the film was 'propped' by the same breed of geniuses who worked on Pearl Harbor and Titanic.
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>Cameron’s Titanic being mildly irritating to many of its critics.

It is a film that, perhaps is a first, in that it offers multi-textural annoyance for the discerning filmgoer. One can choose to ignore the dialogue and concentrate on being annoyed by the, what, 3700 VISUAL anarchronisms presented during the first 9 hours of running time. One can ignore the dialogue and the anachronisms and instead devote the entire 17 hour running time to being peeved by the film's rather heavy-handed buffoon level Marxism, with ensuing cartoonish characters. One can opt to ignore the dialogue, anachronisms, twit Social Commentary, and choose to be appalled by the endless stupidities of situation, some of which (chained to the pipe- the miraculous arrival of the tux)would have made 1912 audiences groan. One can ignore the dialogue, anachronisms, social commentary, and situational stupidity, and focus one's ire instead on how shoddy and unconvincing the majority of the FX were. One can ignore the dialogue, anachronisms, social commentary, situational stupidity, mediocre FX and instead ponder the weird Middle Aged Man In Midlife Crisis "morality" of the script vis a vis Rose and sexuality. Or, one can savor ALL of these faults, and let the various combinations of them engulf one like a symphony of "Lowest Common Denominator."

Roger Ebert, in his new book Your Movie Sucks, has a paragraph in which he hits the nail on the head regarding why so many films leave him appalled and angry. The films are not WRITTEN by idiots. The directors are not ill-educated. The actors are not unaware of what is known as The Idiot Plot Device. Yet, they all seem to labor under the delusion that their viewing audience IS made up of idiots, who will either settle for Lowest Common Denominator or not recognise it. I drift back, as I often do, to Jack and the pipe. One can, with NO effort, come up with perhaps 10 ways of trapping Jack that would have been suspenseful AND theoretically possible. Hell, having him step into a bear trap that Molly Brown totes around with her (feisty frontier woman) while returning the tux, and finding himself imprisoned in her trunk room would not have been MORE stupid...at best it would be a parallel stupidity.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Next time I'm at a restaurant with Turkey Buzzards roosting over the valet parking kiosk, I'll get a picture.<<

If it happens to be the ritziest restaurant in town, that would be something to look forward to. Don't try it with a Hardees. Nobody would notice anything unusual about that!
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Feb 24, 2004
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Not an urban legend - I saw this myself:

The week after a new McDonalds opened here, it was visited by the Medic One aid cars twice. Big Mac Attacks, presumably???
'-)

Roy

BTW, does anyone remember the story of the flock of blackish birds (starlings?) that flew over and about Titanic's bow a few days before it sailed?
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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I may have to re-watch the movie - I don't recall Lightoller being shown sipping tea at all! Was this in the scene when he passed through the bridge to speak with Smith, or when he's shown speaking briefly to Murdoch before going off watch?

Moody, I know, was shown with a cup of tea in hand immediately prior to and during the collision - indeed, he's clutching it as he answers the phone from the Crow's Nest (taking his time, as in movie-world he's not standing in the wheelhouse but seems to be in the chartroom...with beverage) and clings to it while doing his best to act as a roadblock to Murdoch, as Murdoch hurtles around the bridge and attempts to do everything singlehanded.

There are at least 23 species of whales and dolphins around the British Isles, starting with the pretty prolific bottlenose and common dolphins. Bottlenoses, I seem to recall, have been known to play "toss-the-porpoise" with Harbour Porpoises around the UK.

I did wonder if perhaps it might have been White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris.) depicted in the movie, as these are seen off the West Coast of Ireland and I seem to vaguely recall that it looked more one of these. However, Bottlenoses are more abundant, and the Common dolphin is the one most known for riding bow waves (although many species do it - my favourite is the Spinner dolphin of tropical seas). I'd have to see a still of the dolphins to really hazard a guess as to what sort of dolphin they were.

They probably were having a bit of a giggle with you, Dave. I know that the one time I've tried to swim with them, up in the Solomon Islands, they were clicking and whistling in a most mocking manner - not one jot interested in me, only in the RIB that the crew was using to ferry us around.

Will, thank you for the consideration you showed the sharks!
 
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I know Cameron was going for high drama and it was a fictional movie but I agree he should have left that out. No need to trash a real person with no definative proof. I wish he would of have covered some more of the radio traffic between the ships. But thats just my opinion coming from a history geek. He obviously knew how to make a blockbuster.
ANTR played around with a sub-plot concerning 'The Californian Incident', and not with any great effect because the first time I watched ANTR (knowing nothing of the background) it completely passed me by. It would have been a mistake to have included 'The Californian Incident' in the 1997 film.
Cameron did film a few scenes with the Californian, but decided not to include it. If I recall correctly, it was an artistic choice. He wanted to keep the story on Titanic the whole night without any diversions.

Seeing his treatment of Murdoch (as spoken about in this thread), I believe him when he implies he wasn't avoiding controversy.


I'm not much for the dialogue, but I think it's going for that classic melodramatic movie feel.
 
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Dec 2, 2000
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Speaking of sharks, Inger, just how far north do some of then range and which species? I've heard it said that Great Whites like the colder waters, but I'm not sure of the source, and I don't trust Mr. I Heard.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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I didn't dislike the movie. I thought the recreation of the ship was very good. The closest of any movie made. For that I liked the movie. As for the Jack & Rose & Cal & Brock story line...it was entertaining if not very realistic. But looking at it thru my capitalistic eyes I thought it was marketing genius by J.C. I never saw in the theater but I know women who went and saw it like ten times...in other words..cha-ching for the studio and J.C. His follow up block buster which made even more I didn't care for at all.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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I hate to be the generator of horrifying imagery, but I'm wondering if any of these were around during/after the sinking. Could these be one of the possible reasons behind why many bodies weren't found?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>a 20+ foot specimen suddenly appeared, on camera, at the wrecksite to the surprise of all.<<

WHOA!!!!
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I'll bet that managed to cure some of the divers of their constipation! Good thing these critters aren't especially dangerous to humans...errrrrr....supposedly. The article mentions reindeer and even chunks of polar bears found in their stomachs. I'd treat them with respect.

>>Could these be one of the possible reasons behind why many bodies weren't found?<<

Wouldn't surprise me in the least. What the wind and the wave doesn't disperse will eventually end up as somethings lunch.
 

Kas01

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I'll be honest I'd have preferred Kate Winslet opposite Cillian Murphy, but needs must, even if Kate's American accent slowly goes to pot over the course of the film. Wouldn't have even needed the class warfare trope.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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quote:

The shark is not dangerous to humans
Then again, maybe not. Was there any report of red water amidst the bodies and debris (and when I refer to red water, I am suggesting enough that could have been caused by a shark attack)?​
 
May 3, 2005
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I like it for the detail and special effects.
I think most people just don't like the "Jack ! Jack ! Rose ! Rose !" thing.
As bad as most people think the 1953 "Titanic" is, I think the "Gifford-Annette" romance angle was handled much better and more realistic than the 1997 version.
I have a suspicion that maybe James Cameron got the idea for the 1997 movie from the 1953 movie and embellished it a bit.

I can relate more to "Gifford" than I can to "Jack".....LOL
P.S. I first saw the 1953 "Titanic" movie on the big screen during its 1953 debut at a down town first run theater in San Diego.
I was in the Navy, on Liberty from the ship on which I was stationed at the North Island Naval Station at that time.

Since then I have collected DVD's of the 1953, 1958 and 1997 versions and enjoyed all.
1953 "Titanic" mainly for the Stanwyck-Webb connection. I was a great fan of Clifton Webb.
1958 "A Night To Remember "for the mostly historic accuracy....Except for the opening scene.
1997 "Titanic" for its color and special effects.

I really knew very little, if any, about the Titanic story in 1953, but have gotten into it since then.

And Robert Wagner and I were about the same age in 1953. Wife says we still are in 2018.
And I would prefer Audrey Dalton over Kate Winslet ! LOL
 
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Dec 29, 2006
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Inger, It may have been Moody; without watching the film again I cannot remember, but my point is still valid insofar I cannot imagine naval officers sipping tea from China cups while on duty on the bridge. The analogy might a western in which cowboys are depicted tickling their tea cups around the camp fire — it is an incongruous image that invites ridicule.

I have, as a matter of interest, found several photographs of British sailors drinking tea in gun turrets or in submarines, etc., and they appear to have plain stoneware cups (naval issue?) I think the army preferred brown tin mugs while, even in my lifetime, I can remember labourers cycling off to work with their billy cans slung beneath their handlebars. Here in Witney, mill workers would, in the 1930s, take cold tea to work in jam jars or other suitable containers, and deposit them on exposed pipes in the boiler rooms, so that their tea would be warm enough to drink by lunchtime!