Why do people dislike the 1997 Titanic movie?


Peter Kyhl

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I agree Cameron. I really don't like the movie from 1953. I like S.0.S. Titanic becuase it has so many real passenger and it was the first movie I saw.
 
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Southampton

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I was 6 years old when Titanic came out and although according to my parents I was already interested in the story of the ship from an early age (asking them to buy me books and tell me her story over and over again), I always associate my Titanic passion to this movie because it's part of my array of first Titanic-related memories. This is why I will always love this movie and will never be able to hate it.

Personally, I think if you look at it as what it is - a Hollywood movie - it does superbly what it's intended to do. I don't mind historical inaccuracies for the sake of artistic purposes (documentaries are the one form of media where I don't tolerate nor expect artistic licenses) and personally I think the inclusion of the fictional love story was incredibly smart and, honestly, necessary. Is it a good script? Not really. Is it an original love story? Not really. But it works. And the way this movie has become a staple of popular culture and how it's still so meaningful to so many people almost 30 years later is a testament to its quality, in my humble opinion.

Also, it bothers me to see the movie being reduced to just a romance story and a chick flick. Titanic is way more about the coming of age of a young woman (Rose) than about a love story. The love story is what propels Rose's freedom and growth, but the focus is still 100% on her and on what she wants. Now were there real young women aboard the ship with interesting and inspiring lives that could warrant a movie focused entirely on them? Yes (I personally love reading about Violet Jessop), but it would be a far more delicate subject to deal with and I'm not sure I'd want a Hollywood production to be the one doing that. Resorting to fictional characters provides greater freedom and with greater freedom comes more room to manipulate the characters in a way that the general audience feels not only invested in, but also connected to them. By hooking the audience on Jack and Rose, individually and as a couple, Cameron guaranteed that the audience would personally feel the sense of loss that comes with the tragedy. And the truth is, despite their strengths, all the other Titanic movies have failed in making me personally feel that sense of loss. I think that has precisely to do with the fact that most focus on the real passengers but never deep enough for you, as an audience member, to relate to any of them and feel personally gutted when they face tragedy. Titanic was the only one where I felt that metaphorical punch in the gut because I could finally put myself in someone's shoes (Rose). That's why I think the inclusion of fictional characters and a fictional love story was smart and necessary. And Cameron did this flawlessly because (as much as I don't like him for a variety of reasons) he's a master at emotion and a good story-teller.

But of course that's just me. I also think that society in general loves to mock anything that is popular among women and teenage girls and a lot of the hatred against this movie can be explained by that.
 
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I was 6 years old when Titanic came out and although according to my parents I was already interested in the story of the ship from an early age (asking them to buy me books and tell me her story over and over again), I always associate my Titanic passion to this movie because it's part of my array of first Titanic-related memories. This is why I will always love this movie and will never be able to hate it.

Personally, I think if you look at it as what it is - a Hollywood movie - it does superbly what it's intended to do. I don't mind historical inaccuracies for the sake of artistic purposes (documentaries are the one form of media where I don't tolerate nor expect artistic licenses) and personally I think the inclusion of the fictional love story was incredibly smart and, honestly, necessary. Is it a good script? Not really. Is it an original love story? Not really. But it works. And the way this movie has become a staple of popular culture and how it's still so meaningful to so many people almost 30 years later is a testament to its quality, in my humble opinion.

Also, it bothers me to see the movie being reduced to just a romance story and a chick flick. Titanic is way more about the coming of age of a young woman (Rose) than about a love story. The love story is what propels Rose's freedom and growth, but the focus is still 100% on her and on what she wants. Now were there real young women aboard the ship with interesting and inspiring lives that could warrant a movie focused entirely on them? Yes (I personally love reading about Violet Jessop), but it would be a far more delicate subject to deal with and I'm not sure I'd want a Hollywood production to be the one doing that. Resorting to fictional characters provides greater freedom and with greater freedom comes more room to manipulate the characters in a way that the general audience feels not only invested in, but also connected to them. By hooking the audience on Jack and Rose, individually and as a couple, Cameron guaranteed that the audience would personally feel the sense of loss that comes with the tragedy. And the truth is, despite their strengths, all the other Titanic movies have failed in making me personally feel that sense of loss. I think that has precisely to do with the fact that most focus on the real passengers but never deep enough for you, as an audience member, to relate to any of them and feel personally gutted when they face tragedy. Titanic was the only one where I felt that metaphorical punch in the gut because I could finally put myself in someone's shoes (Rose). That's why I think the inclusion of fictional characters and a fictional love story was smart and necessary. And Cameron did this flawlessly because (as much as I don't like him for a variety of reasons) he's a master at emotion and a good story-teller.

But of course that's just me. I also think that society in general loves to mock anything that is popular among women and teenage girls and a lot of the hatred against this movie can be explained by that.
There's nothing wrong with getting your motivation to like or study something from a movie. Yours happens to be Titanic. More power to you. There are hundreds of engineers and astronauts that admit their motivation to go into that was from watching Star Trek as a young person. And there are hundreds of archaeologists that admit their motivation was from watching Indiana Jones when they were young also. Get your motivation where you can find it. And if somebody gives you flak about it just tell them to go pound sand. Cheers.
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Cam Houseman

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Personally, I think if you look at it as what it is - a Hollywood movie - it does superbly what it's intended to do. I don't mind historical inaccuracies for the sake of artistic purposes (documentaries are the one form of media where I don't tolerate nor expect artistic licenses) and personally I think the inclusion of the fictional love story was incredibly smart and, honestly, necessary. Is it a good script? Not really. Is it an original love story? Not really. But it works. And the way this movie has become a staple of popular culture and how it's still so meaningful to so many people almost 30 years later is a testament to its quality, in my humble opinion.

I was 6 years old when Titanic came out and although according to my parents I was already interested in the story of the ship from an early age (asking them to buy me books and tell me her story over and over again), I always associate my Titanic passion to this movie because it's part of my array of first Titanic-related memories. This is why I will always love this movie and will never be able to hate it

Exactly! dramatic moments are put in because
-Lack of data
-for the story
-to move the plot along

As I said earlier in another post, the romantic subplot put in a Historical fiction movie really does draw in the numbers, as shown by box office Numbers. I too was brought in by an earlier documentary, I don't remember what it was, but I think it was about Ballard's expedition to find the ship, maybe "The Nightmare and the dream." I don't know, I was 6. The movie is what helped along my fascination, and will always be my favorite despites the flaws.
Also, it bothers me to see the movie being reduced to just a romance story and a chick flick. Titanic is way more about the coming of age of a young woman (Rose) than about a love story. The love story is what propels Rose's freedom and growth, but the focus is still 100% on her and on what she wants. Now were there real young women aboard the ship with interesting and inspiring lives that could warrant a movie focused entirely on them? Yes (I personally love reading about Violet Jessop), but it would be a far more delicate subject to deal with and I'm not sure I'd want a Hollywood production to be the one doing that. Resorting to fictional characters provides greater freedom and with greater freedom comes more room to manipulate the characters in a way that the general audience feels not only invested in, but also connected to them. By hooking the audience on Jack and Rose, individually and as a couple, Cameron guaranteed that the audience would personally feel the sense of loss that comes with the tragedy. And the truth is, despite their strengths, all the other Titanic movies have failed in making me personally feel that sense of loss. I think that has precisely to do with the fact that most focus on the real passengers but never deep enough for you, as an audience member, to relate to any of them and feel personally gutted when they face tragedy. Titanic was the only one where I felt that metaphorical punch in the gut because I could finally put myself in someone's shoes (Rose). That's why I think the inclusion of fictional characters and a fictional love story was smart and necessary. And Cameron did this flawlessly because (as much as I don't like him for a variety of reasons) he's a master at emotion and a good story-teller.
I agree, the movie is much more than just "Jack and Rose" its a "modern" (well, back then) of the Titanic's story, although strung with dramatic details here and there. Titanic 1997 built on the lives of the survivors an victims, gave them feelings and "life" if you will. Not many of the movies, except A Night to remember, does much with the historical characters except portray that character badly, erroneously, or just forgets them entirely like how Thomas Andrews wasn't in the 1996 Mini-series. the hard work that Jim Cameron put into the set should really fascinate everyone, regardless of if you like it or not. Jim Cameron has been the only person to actually "rebuild" Titanic nearly to her full extent. (Although I think the set was a little shorter than the real ship.)
But of course that's just me. I also think that society in general loves to mock anything that is popular among women and teenage girls and a lot of the hatred against this movie can be explained by that.
I am not so sure about this last one. People seem to dislike the movie for a couple reasons
1. the love story
2. inaccuracies
3. It wasn't a documentary which tried to get 100% of the facts correct

that kind of Society you mention seems to be the misogynist group. Normal people don't care. Its the weirdos who don't want to let people have any sort of opinion. Don't listen to them, be you. Aren't there male fans of that one kids show, the "My Little Pony" or something like that? And that primarily seems to be a girls show, but you're allowed to like what you like!

I believe being a woman shouldn't define what you are into, if you get my meaning. Many famous women throughout history are notable for their achievements and contributions to society. Jennifer Carter was the first woman to go to the Titanic's wreck, neat fact for you.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Best of luck! :)
 
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Generally speaking, I love the movie although I could also do with less of Jack and Rose (and Rose's awful mother!) However, my biggest complaint about the film is that Cameron chose to exclude the scene on the boat deck where Mr Strauss begs Mrs Strauss to get into a lifeboat, and she refuses point blank to do so. I have seen this in a compilation of deleted scenes on Youtube and it really would have been worthy of inclusion in the final cut. As it is, all we get is a brief shot of an elderly couple waiting on their bed for the inevitable end which, for viewers who are unaware of the Strauss story, is somewjat meaningless.
 

RiffRanger

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Hi, I'm new here and this is my first post. I just happened to rewatch this movie last weekend and every time I watch it, I find new issues with it.

First and foremost, I'm happy with any mainstream awareness of the Titanic. We're almost 110 years removed from the sinking and the danger of it being forgotten grows with each passing year. So, I'm grateful there exists such a massive pop culture juggernaut that will keep the ship in people's minds. However, that is a double-edged sword. Because it's such a juggernaut, it has become the only exposure to the Titanic most people have and also makes it difficult for any other project - perhaps one with more of a dedication to accuracy - to ever find as secure of a foothold in the zeitgeist. At the end of the day, anything that keeps people remembering the ship is a good thing.

Second, I'm grateful for the attention Cameron did pay to accuracy in designing his models and sets. It's unlikely we'll ever see such a beautiful recreation of Titanic. Inaccuracies due to changing information - such as now knowing the center propeller had three blades, not four or even bigger inaccuracies like the breakup - are easily forgiven based on what was accepted in 1997. So, being able to see the ship in a way we had never been able to before and may never be able to again is something else I'm very grateful for.

However, there are things I cannot overlook nor forgive. Chief among these is how someone supposedly so dedicated to accuracy could have possibly thought it was a good idea to imply that the lookouts missed seeing the iceberg because they were busy leering at the kissing teenagers on the deck below. I find this specific error to be especially egregious and offensive, even more so than the portrayal of Murdoch. That was at least based on actual rumors - true or not - and from a storytelling point of view, had a basis. There has never been any evidence to suggest there was a reason for the lookouts to have failed to see the iceberg sooner beyond the weather conditions that night. No moon, no waves, the iceberg itself likely being black and recently overturned...the thing was invisible until they were already on top if it. This is something that has always and will always bother me deeply.

From a more superficial standpoint, I find it ridiculous to ignore so many real stories in order to focus on a, frankly, cliche and melodramatic love story. This is especially annoying when doing so meant bending the stories of real figures to fit into the fake story. Yet again forcing Margaret Brown - again calling her Molly - to be best friends with the main characters, very implausibly showing that Rose and Cal were somehow close friends with Thomas Andrews and Ismay...it all just pulls anyone with even a passing knowledge of the real Titanic out of the movie. On this most recent viewing, I even picked up on another error I had never noticed before. The characters are shown in the Verandah Cafe and ordering meals, which the Cafe did not serve. That's definitely a nitpicky thing to point out and I don't necessarily hold it against the movie as a whole, but like I said, I seem to find new issues every time I watch the movie.

Ultimately, I would love to see another project of that scale but approached from a more historical angle attempted someday. Whether or not that's possible remains to be seen
 
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Cameron never made a movie that isn't fiction that I know of. Not sure why people would expect him to do otherwise. That's his niche. He did follow up with a few docu's on Titanic. But if he made a docu on Titanic in 97 it might have made 10 million instead of 1 billion. 90% of that 1 billion was from repeat viewers mostly teenage girls. He knew what he was doing even though it was a gamble at the time. Plus I would venture to guess that 90% or so of the people who are interested in Titanic today is because of his movie. I just take it for what it is. A fictional story with some really good sets. Cheers.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I find it ridiculous to ignore so many real stories in order to focus on a, frankly, cliche and melodramatic love story.
Quite right and your statement above puts it mildly. As I have said several times before, a good narrative - factual or fictional - does NOT need to have a silly "boy meets girl" romance tied into a subplot.
I would love to see another project of that scale but approached from a more historical angle attempted someday. Whether or not that's possible remains to be seen.
IMO, it was perfectly possible in 1997 and still is. A semi-documentary approach like the 1958 film A Night To Remember but with more attention to FACTUAL DETAIL and of course better special effects would work very well. Also, the film does not have to be totally plot-driven to the extent as to make it impersonal. The perspective of certain characters - Murdoch, Smith, Andrews, Ismay, Molly Brown, Jack Thayer, Beesley, the Goodwin family, Wennerstrom etc - could be carefully prioritized in a way that many other characters and events are seen "through" them.

As to the storyline itself, there are plenty of actual events that can be woven into the script and if well presented on the screen, they can be quite thrilling. To name a few,

  • The New York incident at Southampton.
  • First appearance of fully lit-up Titanic soon after leaving Cherbourg.
  • Fleet asking Lightoller about the lack of binoculars in the crow's nest (irrespective of the implications)
  • Things like grandeur of the first class public rooms, the long, convoluted route the third class passengers had to take to get to the upper decks, the toiling 'black gang' etc. Apart from providing structural narrative to the story, such things would also help to briefly introduce or delve upon certain characters.
  • Ice warnings as they came in on Sunday, shown in the form of "subtitles" for viewers' benefit. Also handling of some of those warnings like the infamous Baltic message.
  • Allusion to the steadily dropping water temperature as they approached the ice field on Sunday evening.
  • A properly shown encounter with the iceberg, including the first sighting, 'blossom effect' of the ship closing and the impact (this was very poorly depicted on Cameron's film). See the serial images of the ship's bow closing on the iceberg in Sam Halpern's article Encounter in the Night to understand what I mean about the blossom effect.
  • Damage assessment through early flooding by Smith and Andrews.
  • Gradual awareness of the danger among various passengers and crew, interspersed with steady flooding scenes of various areas.
  • Distress calls sent out and responses received, again shown as "subtitles"
  • Stern-ward and upward movement of third class passengers berthed forward, and who were aware of the problem early.
  • Loading and lowering of earlier lifeboats, again interspersed with continued flooding, including first appearance of water in Boiler Room 4.
  • The brief firearms meeting of the Captain and senior officers.
  • The gradually increasing alarm among passengers, shown through launch of Lifeboat #14 etc.
  • Launches of Lifeboats #13 and #15, the condenser exhaust pushing #13 under #15 etc. That would make a great scene.
  • Loading of Lifeboat #10 across the space between ship and boat, the faller and her rescue; lowering of Lifeboat #4 with passengers watching flooding of cabins through the portholes.
  • The drama around Collapsibles C & D. Ismay's escape, Navratil children, Edith Evans etc.
  • Efforts to launch Collapsibles B and A. The chaotic atmosphere as Collapsible A floated free etc.
  • Break-up and final plunge.
I think that gives a general idea of what I am talking about. People might argue that including all those events can make the movie unacceptably long, but I disagree. A cleverly used single minute can be made to be very informative and rewarding. Moreover, if you consider the amount of footage wasted on scenes involving Jack and Rose in Cameron's film, you will realize how much factual stuff can be included in its place.
 
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Cam Houseman

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Yes, but, Cameron wanted to respect Titanic's legacy, as well as make money of the movie. The 90s were filled with love movies anyhow, that's where the public's attention held. And people did find something interesting/romantic in a doomed love on a doomed ship.

An if we compare ANTR, times have changed since then. Not saying it wouldn't be awesome to have one, I just don't think it would've done as well.
 

Arun Vajpey

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The 90s were filled with love movies anyhow, that's where the public's attention held. And people did find something interesting/romantic in a doomed love on a doomed ship.
Probably, but it did not have to be the Titanic. If he wanted to make a slushy romance on board a doomed ship, he could have called it Corianis or something and done it with totally fictional characters.

Cameron wanted to respect Titanic's legacy, as well as make money of the movie.
I do NOT find Cameron's 1997 film anything like "respecting Titanic's ideology". Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

As for making money, plenty of movies with no romance whatsoever have been major hits. Cameron's own Aliens is a good example, as was Ridley Scott's original film.
 
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RiffRanger

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From a storytelling point of view, adding a narrative to what would otherwise be a glorified documentary makes sense. It engages the audience while also educating them. The problem with Cameron's movie was that his narrative just wasn't very good and existed at the expense of accuracy while Cameron himself famously claimed to be attempting to achieve the utmost accuracy. Again, this is especially annoying when there is no shortage of real stories that could have been told, even adding the expected Hollywood flourishes and exaggerations. It would not have been difficult for Cameron to have made the movie he wanted without resorting to a contrived story about a whiny rich girl and a cartoonishly charming hobo.
 
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Kyle Naber

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Obviously the Jack and Rose characters and story are fictional, but the emotions that we get from them are very real. Personally, I feel no real deep, emotional connection with anyone from ANTR. There’s no big loss with a character that we spend a couple hours getting to know; it’s just a handful of familiar faces with no names that we see either live or perish. Cameron takes us on an emotional ride that most closely resembles what might have been felt in 1912.

ANTR is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. Most of the facts are right, the sets are impressive for the time, and it serves at a great reference point to the disaster in the world of film. Titanic leaves a deeper emotional effect (even though nothing in it phases me since I’ve seen it a thousand times). It feels just more real in my opinion. Not just because of the sets and modern technology, but the fictional plot reflects something that could have been very much real.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I feel no real deep, emotional connection with anyone from ANTR. There’s no big loss with a character that we spend a couple hours getting to know; it’s just a handful of familiar faces with no names that we see either live or perish.
It is a matter of opinion - or, how one looks at it. One does not have to "get to know" a person or group of persons to feel positively or negatively for what happens to them. I don't have to personally know an Ethiopian athlete coming from a poverty stricken background and who has just won an Olympic Gold Medal to feel very happy for him or her. It is perfectly possible to establish an emotional connection with someone you see fleetingly, if that happens in the right perspective.

That is why I mentioned about the semi-documentary approach. We see a lot of real disaster footage on TV and unless one is completely impersonal, it is not too difficult to feel sorry for the fate of fellow-humans without actually knowing them. In fact, considering that one does not like some people one gets to know, not knowing anyone personally helps to level the field. The Titanic was a microcosm of various lives and backgrounds who were similarly affected by the disaster - some made through it, others did not.


Cameron takes us on an emotional ride that most closely resembles what might have been felt in 1912.
I did not feel anything towards the Jack and Rose characters except that theory story intruded upon real events. That final scene when their 'ghosts' embrace while the 'ghosts' of other victims surround them and applaud almost made me throw-up. It trivialized and ridiculed what was a very real human disaster.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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It would not have been difficult for Cameron to have made the movie he wanted without resorting to a contrived story about a whiny rich girl and a cartoonishly charming hobo.
I fully agree. I found both characters stupid, annoying and their contrived love story ridiculous and intrusive.
 

Kyle Naber

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I don't have to personally know an Ethiopian athlete coming from a poverty stricken background and who has just won an Olympic Gold Medal to feel very happy for him or her.

This is true. I guess ANTR just feels like a bit too much of a documentary to get the feelings going for me. I always wonder if Titanic would be getting this kind of widespread hate if it wasn’t as popular. I don’t think so to be honest. I think lots of the distaste for it has come from it blowing up and being in lots of areas of pop culture. Basically, lots of people just got sick of it.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I guess ANTR just feels like a bit too much of a documentary to get the feelings going for me
Yes, I agree to that to some extent but it had its heart in the right place. On the negative side, too many "false facts" and even for 1958 atrociously bad special effects.

IMO, a good movie about the Titanic would prioritize certain characters, carefully chosen so that the other characters and events can be seen through their perspective AND keep the narrative flowing. I would opt for Murdoch, Smith, Andrews, Bell, Jack Thayer, Gracie, Beesley, John Collins and Wennerstrom, which can cover just about every angle in the hands of a skilled scriptwriter. OK, a bit more of Lightoller's perspective towards the end as the senior surviving officer.

Those named above would be the "main characters" in terms of footage but I woild also include the likes of Fleet, Hichens, Molly Brown etc here and there as appropriate.

I always wonder if Titanic would be getting this kind of widespread hate if it wasn’t as popular
I don't think that ANTR had anything to do with the dislike that Cameron's Titanic gets from certain circles (like mine). Don't forget that it was a mega box office success, but that's because of the timing of its release among other things. In 1997, James Cameron was probably at his peak as a film director while the discovery of the Titanic's wreck 12 years previously and subsequent expeditions had greatly stimulated renewed interest in the disaster. So, the news of the two coming together in a new film at a time when CGI special effects were increasingly common generated a lot of expectations, including mine. But that interest spanned a huge moviegoer population out of which probably 1% was a genuine Titanic enthusiast. When the movie was released, Cameron delivered as far as the mainstream - who did not care about finer details - were concerned and that reflected in the Box Office and awards. But to many (if not all) genuine Titanic buffs a corny love story involving rather bland, boring characters interspersed with some special effects and Titanic facts came as a disappointment. Personally, I found things like the necklace subplot, sex in the Renault, lookouts distracted by the "protagonists" kissing, the contrived, artificial dialogue etc positively revolting.
 
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RiffRanger

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Like I said before, the entire Jack and Rose story falls apart and takes anyone with any passing knowledge of the Titanic out of the movie. First of all, they met on Friday night and by Sunday, they were willing to die for each other. That in itself is hard to swallow. But then my knowledge of the ship keeps reminding me of how impossible their story even was. For one, no one was allowed on the forecastle, so the iconic "I'm the King of the world!" and "flying" scenes never could have happened. There would have been an officer stationed on the aft docking bridge when Rose tried to kill herself (among any other officers or crew who may have been on the poop deck) and would have seen the entire thing so Jack and Rose meeting couldn't have happened...never mind the fact that as much as a third class passenger couldn't enter the first class areas of the ship, Rose couldn't have just freely entered the aft well and poop deck to jump off the stern. Third class was more or less required to be quarantined by US immigration laws. Intermingling wasn't even possible, never mind falling in love and abandoning your cushy rich life to run away with a homeless guy you've known for a day and a half. These are nitpicks, for sure, but at the end of the day, if you're going to use the sinking of the Titanic as simply the backdrop for a love story, at least make that love story coherent and possible within the world you're creating. It becomes a problem especially during the sinking when we're forced to follow these painfully stupid people through the bowels of the ship while we know there are hundreds of actually interesting stories being played out on the boat deck. The Strauss' scene got cut but sure, let's watch the SHOOTOUT in the dining saloon.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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For one, no one was allowed on the forecastle, so the iconic "I'm the King of the world!" and "flying" scenes never could have happened.
The improbability of it apart, that's yet another nauseatingly cloying scene from the film. How anyone could call the film an "emotional roller coaster" beats me.
 
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