Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Titanic (1997 movie)
Titanic is a 1997 dramatic movie released by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. The bulk of the plot is set aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic during her fateful maiden voyage in 1912. The movie won 11 Academy Awards on March 23, 1998 including best picture of 1997. As of 2005, Titanic has the highest box office take in movie history. The 1997 film should not be confused with the Titanic movie made in 1953.
Making the film
The film was directed by James Cameron and starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Kathy Bates, Eric Braeden, David Warner, Danny Nucci , Gloria Stuart, Victor Garber, Bernard Hill, Bernard Fox, Ioan Gruffudd and Bill Paxton.
When this epic disaster film was not finished in time for its scheduled July 1997 release date, it sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood: studio execs began wondering if they might have another Heaven's Gate on their hands. The two releasing studios, 20th Century Fox (which handled the international distribution and actually had movie rights to the Titanic name) and Paramount Pictures (which had the U.S. rights) panicked. By the middle of 1997 Titanic had become the most costly film ever made (its reported cost hovered in the $200 million range) and the bills were still coming in. When director James Cameron finally delivered the film to Paramount, it ran over 3 hours and it was anyone's guess whether he would ever work in Hollywood again. But Cameron stood his ground and threatened edit-happy studio executives with the message: "You will cut my film over my dead body."
Moved to a crowded release date of December 19, 1997, the film opened with little promotion, but brought in a weak $28 million in ticket sales for the weekend. Within a week the gross tripled. By New Year's Day, the film had hit $100 million and showed no sign of slowing down. It held a virtual lock on first place at the box office for nearly four months and would become the highest grossing film of all-time with more than $1.8 billion in ticket sales worldwide.
Cameron, who fought tooth and nail to finish the film, was rewarded with an Academy Award for Best Director.
It is 1996, and a treasure hunter and his team explore the wreck of the Titanic in their submersible. A safe is brought to the surface and is opened. It contains, not the fabled treasure the adventurers had hoped for, but only papers. One of them is a nude pencil portrait dated April 14, 1912, and signed "JD". It shows a beautiful young girl reclining with casual modesty on a couch. At her throat is the diamond they seek: the Heart of the Ocean.
Rose DeWitt Bukater, an ancient woman, over 100 years old, watches a CNN report of the treasure hunt and sees the nude portrait. She phones the treasure hunter and asks if he has found The Heart of the Ocean yet. She tells him that she knows who the beautiful girl wearing the diamond in the picture is. "Oh yes. The woman in the picture is me." Her story is told in flashback.
Jack Dawson, a poor artist, wins tickets in a card game and boards the Titanic, while Rose, already booked into upper class berths, goes with her wealthy fiancé and her mother, a widow who wants to marry her daughter off in order to maintain her own expensive lifestyle and bolster her social cachet.
The captain and crew ignore many warnings and increase the ship's speed when asked to do so by J. Bruce Ismay. Rose is so unhappy about marrying her fiancé that she plans to kill herself by jumping off the ship. Jack intervenes to prevent her suicide and, when he is invited to dinner above decks as a reward, their relationship grows quickly. He takes her below decks to join the dancing of the third class passengers, he sketches a pencil portrait of Rose wearing only the diamond, and they make love in a car in the hold.
The lookouts do not see an iceberg in time, and the Titanic is holed and begins to sink. Jack is captured by Rose's fiancé and chained far below deck. Rose decides to run away from her fiancé, and the sure chance of a lifeboat, to find Jack. She goes below decks and finds that the water is low, and saves Jack, however when they go back they realise that the water is rising at an alarming rate. The ship cracks in half, and Rose and Jack retreat to the stern as it rises straight up. The ship goes completely under and most people are thrown into the water. Jack and Rose find a floating door which will hold only one of them. Jack stays in the water and dies from the cold. Later Rose is found alive and rescued by the lifeboats, which are then found by the Carpathia, which answers Titanic's radio distress signal. Upon arrival at New York, Rose discovers she has her fiancé's coat which has the Heart of the Ocean necklace.
As an old woman in 1996, Rose now goes onto the deck of the salvage ship and throws the Heart of the Ocean into the ocean where Jack died.
Back in Old Rose's room we see pictures of her life's achievements. The last picture shows her on a horse on Santa Monica Pier; something she and Jack were going to do. As she lies still on her bed, we remember Jack's words to her while they were in the water: "you're going to die an old lady warm in her bed". Underwater the Titanic looms out of the darkness and everything turns new again. A young gentleman opens the door to the grand staircase and everyone that died on the Titanic is there smiling as vibrant music plays. At the top of the staircase Jack turns smiling and we see Rose, a young girl of 17 again, smiling as he helps her up the last few stairs. They smile at each other and kiss romantically to the applause of the people below. Rose is with Jack forever.
There are some factual inaccuracies in the script: for example, the designer, Thomas Andrews, claims the ship to be built of iron in the film whereas she was actually built of steel. The "romantic" story is improbable as class distinction at the time meant complete class segregation except during the Sunday morning service in the first class dining saloon (which conversely is shown in the film as segregated). Some contend that the film is anti-British, reducing the historic story to a fight between villainous British officers and crew and heroic Americans.
The 1958 William MacQuitty and Roy Ward Baker film A Night to Remember starring Kenneth More as Second Officer Charles Lightoller is considered by some to be a more historically accurate film, praised for its documentary-style quality. The film was made in 1958 and at this point it was believed that the ship sank as a whole, and the film's sinking is depicted thus.
The film was criticised for its portrayal of a historical character, the ship's First Officer , William McMaster Murdoch  . In his home town of Dalbeattie in Scotland there is a memorial to his heroism and a charitable prize has been established in his name. In the film he is portrayed as taking a bribe, shooting passengers dead and finally shooting himself. 20th Century Fox admitted they had no evidence that Murdoch did these things and contributed $8,000 to the prize fund.
Another aspect of the film, the way in which the third class passengers were completely fenced in below decks, has been described as a myth, although the sudden apparition of hundreds of them after the last boat had already departed (around 2 a.m.), raises the obvious question of where they were in the previous hours, and why they only got to the boat deck when it was too late.
Cameron originally intended Enya to compose the music, but after she declined, he approached James Horner. Their relations were cold after their first cooperation in Aliens, but the soundtrack of Braveheart made Cameron overlook it. Horner composed the soundtrack having in mind Enya's style.
CÚline Dion, who was no stranger to movie songs in the 1990s, sang "My Heart Will Go On", the film's signature song written by James Horner and Will Jennings. At first, Cameron did not want a song sung over the film's credits, but Horner disagreed, and without telling Cameron, went ahead and wrote one anyway, and recorded Dion singing it. Cameron changed his mind when Horner presented what he proposed, an excellent decision, as the song won a Best Original Song Oscar. The song was also a hit worldwide, going to the top of the pop charts around the world, another stellar financial success of its own.
Titanic won Oscars in just about every category except for the acting and screenplay categories. Titanic was nominated in 14 categories and won 11, being the second movie to win that number (the first was Ben-Hur). It was at the time also the only movie of which both two people playing the same person (Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart as Rose and Old Rose) were nominated (remarkably, the second film to be so nominated, Iris, also starred Winslet):
- Art direction — Art Direction: Peter Lamont; Set Decoration: Michael Ford
- Cinematography — Russell Carpenter
- Costume Design — Deborah L. Scott
- Direction — James Cameron
- Film Editing — Conrad Buff , James Cameron, Richard A. Harris
- Music (Original Dramatic Score) — James Horner
- Music (Original Song) — "My Heart Will Go On," music by James Horner; lyric by Will Jennings
- Best Picture — James Cameron and Jon Landau , Producers
- Sound — Gary Rydstrom , Tom Johnson, Gary Summers , Mark Ulano
- Sound Effects Editing — Tom Bellfort , Christopher Boyes
- Visual Effects — Robert Legato , Mark Lasoff , Thomas L. Fisher , Michael Kanfer
It also received the following nominations:
- Best Actress in a Leading Role — Kate Winslet
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role — Gloria Stuart
- Best Makeup — Tina Earnshaw , Greg Cannom , Simon Thompson
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