Happy 25th Birthday Titanic
1997 was a great year for audiences across the world: the Italian Life is Beautiful directed by Roberto Benigni touched viewers with its moving story, British comedy The Full Monty by Peter Cattaneo made audiences laugh, and let’s not forget Luc Besson’s epic sci-fi survival movie The Fifth Element. Each of these films will be remembered as iconic. Yet there was one movie that struck audiences, smashing box office records around the world, to become an all-time favorite: Titanic.
Films are a high-risk endeavor and success is never a guarantee! Titanic was one of the highest-priced films ever made and in 1997 commissioning a film with a budget of US $200m was a huge gamble.
Framed around events leading up to the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, the audience accompanies passengers Rose DeWitt Bukater (played by the actress Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio) in a tragic love story that mirrors the course of the ill-fated voyage.
James Cameron’s motto during filming was “go big or go home”, something that can truly be seen in the execution of the film. Not only did he go on several underwater expeditions to visit and film the shipwreck, he built a nearly life-size replica of the ship. It’s fair to say that the cinematographic skills of Cameron and his crew brought something to the cinema screens that audiences had never experienced before.
Cameron paid particular attention to visual effects – with remarkable CGI techniques being used to recreate the water during the voyage. For the sinking scenes a scale model was used which, together with special angled shots, added a level of realism to the disaster scenes, with the addition of digital smoke and water to create even more suspense. Digital extras, which involved scanning the face of several actors, were used in the scenes in which passengers jumped from the ship to save their lives, which avoided putting real actors at risk.
As we know today, the gamble paid off. The film, produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox, achieved unprecedented success worldwide. Across Europe it was a clear box office hit – by March 1998, just three months after its release, two in five people in Iceland had seen the film whilst in France, 16.5 million ticket sales helped the French box office surge by 40% compared to the previous year. German cinemas saw 18.8 million admissions and in Romania it continues to hold the title of the third highest number of box office admissions of all time.
Titanic was not only applauded by audiences, it also received critical praise. The movie received 14 nominations at the Academy Awards ’98, winning in 11 categories, including “Best Picture” and “Best Director”, and was nominated for the UK BAFTAs, French Cesar’s and Czech Lion awards too. “My Heart Will Go On”, the award-winning original theme song by Celine Dion, was loved by audiences around the world and is still a direct reference to the film to this day.
But what makes Titanic so special? Was it because of the romantic storyline that takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster? Or maybe because of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio’s performances? Or is it because of James Cameron’s impressive attention to detail? Chances are that it is a combination of all these elements together.
One thing is for sure: this movie never gets old. Indeed, the remastered versions, which were screened in cinemas years after Titanic‘s initial release, in 2012 and 2017, have seen remarkable success. Once again this year, to mark its 25th anniversary, the movie will be out in cinemas for a limited time starting 10th February in 4K and 3D: Titanic 25th Anniversary | Official Trailer | In Theatres February 10th – YouTube. What better way to celebrate the birthday of this masterpiece than to relive the experience? You can’t miss it!