James Cameron’s epic masterpiece Titanic is coming back to theaters after undergoing what is, by all the accounts I’ve read thus far, the best post-production 3D conversion to date. My question is "Why?" In case you missed it, I’m not exactly in the “pro-3D” camp. For the most part I think it’s an an unnecessary and expensive gimmick and I resent the high ticket prices associated with it. Film is inherently 2D and I don’t necessarily like stuff flying off the screen and at my face just because they can make it do so. How to Train Your Dragon was gorgeous in 3D, I do admit. It was also gorgeous in 2D.
Titanic definitely deserves to be seen on the big screen, of that there is no doubt. I personally saw it five times way back in 1997. I love the thing. I know every frame by heart. I adore the production values and the costumes, the melodrama-esque dialogue meshed with the sincere performances, including Billy Zane's dastardly villain and despite myself, I still well up at all of the appropriate places as the music swells. I can even stomach Celine Dion’s wailing rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” now that with the passage of time I no longer want to stab myself with a fork whenever I hear it. I can even admit to the enormous crush I had on Leonardo DiCaprio because of Titanic, and if I’m honest, from which I still suffer the residual effects. DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were the Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart of their “day” albeit without the ridiculous nicknames. Nearly fifteen years later and there are legions of fans who still want Kate and Leo to end up together. (Whenever one of them ends a relationship, it’s huge news because they are celebrities, true, but also because the rabid still think it’s a sign they were “meant to be”. )
No, it’s not the film itself I want to deny anyone the chance to experience. Sure, there is a generation that did not get to see the original on the big screen and if the opportunity presents itself, a true cinefile owes it to themselves to avail themselves of it. My problem is this: James Cameron introduces the Titanic 3D trailer saying he’s unleashing it to the 100 million fans he has on Facebook as a thank you for their support. If the self-proclaimed “King of the World” wanted to thank his fans, why isn’t he releasing it for free? Or how about he give us the 2D version for free and the 3D version at a reduced rate? It’s all about the money that’s why. Cameron has come up with a way to milk some more ducats from the Titanic tit. A few tweaks here, a retooling there, using all of the wizardry and gadgets he devised when making Avatar (as if that movie didn’t pay for the technology a million times over) and he’s got a brand new movie.
I realize I’m not this new Techno-Titanic’s target audience. I’ve managed to successfully avoid Avatar thus far. I can certainly enjoy good special effects in service to the story, but to me, it’s the story first. And for all its technological innovation, the general consensus was that Avatar’s story was weak and underwritten. The special effects were all and if you weren’t willing to shell out the $13.50 plus to see it in 3D or even IMAX, there wasn’t much point. Titanic, however, is a good story well told. It was never about the special effects. While the sinking of the great ship was impressive, it impressed us because we cared about the souls who were in peril on it. That won’t change, thank God, with whatever the latest fad or gimmick may be. Bottom line, if you haven’t seen it on the big screen, now is your chance. Do it. But, JUST MY HUMBLE OPINION, you don’t need to line Cameron’s pockets. He doesn’t need your money. The CGI in Titanic was cutting edge for 1997 and that is stick figures on a flip-book compared with what can be done today, I realize. I have no doubt that it will be visually stunning however many Ds you choose to pay for. I didn't see the movie for the effects.I also know that there’s probably a generation of man-boys who will gladly pay any price to see Kate Winslet’s naked body in 3D, but for the rest of you, skip the funny glasses and go to a matinee, sit back and relax for the next three hours and get lost in the tragic love story of Jack and Rose. You won't miss the fact that the icebergs aren't threatening to hit you between the eyes.
embed courtesy of The Film Stage