Tuesday, April 3, 2012
#83 on the 2007 AFI Best 100 American Movies List
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Gloria Stuart as Old Rose, and Billy Zane as Rose's fiancé, Cal Hockley. Jack and Rose are members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.
Cameron's inspiration for the film was predicated on his fascination with shipwrecks; he wanted to convey the emotional message of the tragedy, and felt that a love story interspersed with the human loss would be essential to achieving this. Production on the film began in 1995, when Cameron shot footage of the actual Titanic wreck. The modern scenes were shot on board the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh, which Cameron had used as a base when filming the wreck. A reconstruction of the Titanic was built at Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, and scale models and computer-generated imagery were also used to recreate the sinking. The film was partially funded by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox, and, at the time, was the most expensive film ever made, with an estimated budget of $200 million.
Upon its release on December 19, 1997, the film achieved critical and commercial success. It equaled records with fourteen Academy Award nominations and eleven wins, receiving the prizes for Best Picture and Best Director. With a worldwide gross of over $1.8 billion, it was the first film to reach the billion dollar mark, remaining the highest-grossing film of all time for twelve years, until Cameron's next directorial effort, Avatar, surpassed it in 2010. Titanic is also ranked as the sixth best epic film of all time in AFI's 10 Top 10 by the American Film Institute. The film is due for theatrical re-release in 3-D on April 4, 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the Titanic setting sail on April 10, 1912.
* Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson: Cameron said he needed the cast to feel as though they were really on the Titanic, relive its liveliness, and "to take that energy and give it to Jack, he's an artist who is able to have his heart soar". Within the film, Jack is portrayed as a penniless man from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin who has toured various parts of the world, primarily Paris. He wins two tickets onto the RMS Titanic in a poker game and travels as a third-class passenger with his friend Fabrizio. He is attracted to Rose at first sight and meets her when she attempts to throw herself off the stern of the ship. This enables him to mix with the first-class passengers for a night. When casting the role, various established actors, including Matthew McConaughey, Chris O'Donnell, Billy Crudup and Stephen Dorff, were considered, but Cameron felt that a few of the actors were too old for the part of a 20-year-old. "Tom Cruise expressed an interest in [portraying] the character, though his superstar asking price was never taken seriously." DiCaprio, 22 years old at the time, was brought to Cameron's attention by casting director Mali Finn. Initially, he did not want to portray the character, and refused to read his first romantic scene on the set. Cameron said, "He read it once, then started goofing around, and I could never get him to focus on it again. But for one split second, a shaft of light came down from the heavens and lit up the forest." Cameron strongly believed in DiCaprio's acting ability, and told him, "Look, I'm not going to make this guy brooding and neurotic. I'm not going to give him a tic and a limp and all the things you want." Cameron rather envisioned the character as a James Stewart type.
* Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater/Dawson: Cameron said Winslet "had the thing that you look for" and that there was "a quality in her face, in her eyes," that he "just knew people would be ready to go the distance with her". Rose is a 17-year-old girl, originally from Philadelphia, who is forced into an engagement to 30-year-old Cal Hockley so she and her mother, Ruth, can maintain their high-class status after her father's death had left the family debt-ridden. Rose boards the RMS Titanic with Cal and Ruth, as a first-class passenger, and meets Jack. Winslet said of her character, "She has got a lot to give, and she's got a very open heart. And she wants to explore and adventure the world, but she [feels] that's not going to happen." Gwyneth Paltrow, Claire Danes, and Gabrielle Anwar had been considered for the role. When they turned it down, 22-year-old Winslet campaigned heavily for the role. She sent Cameron daily notes from England, which led Cameron to invite her to Hollywood for auditions. As with DiCaprio, casting director Mali Finn originally brought her to Cameron's attention. When looking for a Rose, Cameron described the character as "an Audrey Hepburn type" and was initially uncertain about casting Winslet even after her screen test impressed him. After she screen tested with DiCaprio, Winslet was so thoroughly impressed with him, that she whispered to Cameron, "He's great. Even if you don't pick me, pick him." Winslet sent Cameron a single rose with a card signed "From Your Rose" and lobbied him by phone. "You don't understand!" she pleaded one day when she reached him by mobile phone in his Humvee. "I am Rose! I don't know why you're even seeing anyone else!" Her persistence, as well as her talent, eventually convinced him to cast her in the role.
* Billy Zane as Caledon Nathan "Cal" Hockley: Cal is Rose's 30-year-old fiancé, and serves as the main antagonist of the film. He is arrogant and snobbish, and the heir to a steel fortune in Pittsburgh. He becomes increasingly embarrassed, jealous, and cruel about Rose's relationship with Jack. He later commits suicide after losing his fortune in the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The part was originally offered to Matthew McConaughey.
* Frances Fisher as Ruth DeWitt Bukater: Rose's widowed mother, who arranges her daughter's engagement to Cal to maintain her family's high-society status. She loves her daughter but believes that social position is more important. She scorns Jack, even though he saved her daughter's life.
* Gloria Stuart as Rose Dawson Calvert: Rose narrates the film in a modern-day framing device. Cameron stated, "In order to see the present and the past, I decided to create a fictional survivor who is [close to] 101 years, and she connects us in a way through history." The 100-year-old Rose gives Lovett information regarding the "Heart of the Ocean" after he discovers a nude drawing of her in the wreck. She tells the story of her time aboard the ship, mentioning Jack for the first time since the sinking. At 87, Stuart had to be made up to look older for the role. Of casting Stuart, Cameron stated, "My casting director found her. She was sent out on a mission to find retired actresses from the Golden Age of the thirties and forties." Cameron said that he did not know who Stuart was, and Fay Wray was also considered for the role. "But [Stuart] was just so into it, and so lucid, and had such a great spirit. And I saw the connection between her spirit and [Winslet's] spirit," stated Cameron. "I saw this joie de vivre in both of them, that I thought the audience would be able to make that cognitive leap that it's the same person." Winslet and Stuart stated their belief that the character dies at the end of the film, while Cameron states in his DVD commentary that he prefers to leave the viewers to form their own interpretation of the ending. Stuart died on September 26, 2010, at age 100, approximately the same age elder Rose was in the film.
* Bill Paxton as Brock Lovett: A treasure hunter looking for the "Heart of the Ocean" in the wreck of the Titanic in the present. Time and funding for his expedition are running out. He later reflects at the film's conclusion that, despite thinking about Titanic for three years, he has never understood it until he hears Rose's story.
* Suzy Amis as Lizzy Calvert: Rose's granddaughter, who accompanies her when she visits Lovett on the ship.
* Danny Nucci as Fabrizio De Rossi: Jack's Italian best friend, who boards the RMS Titanic with him after Jack wins two tickets in a poker game. Fabrizio does not board a lifeboat when the Titanic sinks and is killed when one of the ship's funnels breaks and crashed into the water.
* David Warner as Spicer Lovejoy: An ex-Pinkerton constable, Lovejoy is Cal's English valet and bodyguard, who keeps an eye on Rose and is suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Jack's rescue of her.
* Jason Barry as Thomas "Tommy" Ryan: An Irish third-class passenger who befriends Jack and Fabrizio. Tommy is killed when he is accidentally pushed forward and shot by a panicked First Officer Murdoch.
* Kathy Bates as Margaret "Molly" Brown: Brown is looked down on upon by other first-class women, including Ruth, as "vulgar" and "new money" due to her sudden wealth. She is friendly to Jack and lends him a dinner jacket (bought for her son) when he is invited to dinner in the first-class dining saloon. Although Brown was a real person, Cameron chose not to portray her real-life actions. Molly Brown was dubbed "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" by historians because she, with the support of other women, commandeered Lifeboat 6 from Quartermaster Hichens. Some aspects of this altercation are portrayed in Cameron's film. She is referred to as "Molly" within the film; however, during her lifetime, she was called "Maggie," with the "Molly" appellation coming along posthumously.
* Victor Garber as Thomas Andrews: The ship's builder, Andrews is portrayed as a very kind and pleasant man who is modest about his grand achievement. After the collision, he tries to convince the others, particularly Ismay, that it is a "mathematical certainty" that the ship will sink. He is depicted during the sinking of the ship as standing next to the clock in the first-class smoking room, lamenting his failure to build a strong and safe ship. It is unknown how the real Andrews died.
* Bernard Hill as Captain Edward John Smith: Smith planned to make the Titanic his final voyage before retiring. He retreats into the bridge as the ship sinks, dying when water bursts through the windows whilst he clings to the ship's wheel. It is often disputed whether he died this way or later froze to death, as he was reported seen near the overturned Collapsible B.
* Jonathan Hyde as Joseph Bruce Ismay: Ismay is portrayed as a rich, ignorant first-class man. In the film, he uses his position as White Star Line managing director to influence Captain Smith to go faster with the prospect of an earlier arrival in New York and favorable press attention; while this action appears in popular portrayals of the disaster, it is unsupported by evidence. After the collision, he struggles to comprehend that his "unsinkable" ship is doomed, later sneaking on board a lifeboat to escape.
* Eric Braeden as Colonel John Jacob Astor IV: A first-class passenger whom Rose calls the richest man on the ship. The film depicts Astor and his 18-year-old wife Madeleine as being introduced to Jack by Rose in the first-class dining saloon. During the introduction, Astor asks if Jack is connected to the 'Boston Dawsons', a question Jack neatly deflects by saying that he is instead affiliated with the Chippewa Falls Dawsons. Astor is last seen as the Grand Staircase glass dome implodes and water surges in. In reality, Astor died after being crushed when one of the ship's funnels collapsed. Madeleine Astor survived in one of the last boats to leave the Titanic, but her survival is not shown.
* Bernard Fox as Colonel Archibald Gracie IV: The film depicts Gracie making a comment to Cal that "women and machinery don't mix", and congratulating Jack for saving Rose from falling off the ship, though he is unaware that it was a suicide attempt. While the film depicts Gracie with a British accent, he was in fact American. Archibald Gracie survived the sinking on the overturned Collapsible B. Fox also portrayed lookout Frederick Fleet in the 1958 film A Night to Remember.
* Michael Ensign as Benjamin Guggenheim: A mining magnate traveling in first-class. He shows off his French mistress Madame Aubert to his fellow passengers while his family waits for him at home. When Jack joins the other first-class passengers for dinner after his rescue of Rose, Guggenheim refers to him as a "bohemian".
* Jonathan Evans-Jones as Wallace Hartley: The ship's bandmaster and violinist who plays uplifting music with his colleagues on the boat deck as the ship sinks. As the final plunge begins, he leads the band in a final performance of Nearer, My God, to Thee and dies in the sinking. It has been disputed for many years whether it was this or a waltz tune named "Autumn" which was played last.
* Ewan Stewart as First Officer William Murdoch: The officer who is put in charge of the bridge on the night the ship struck the iceberg. During a rush for the lifeboats, Murdoch shoots Tommy Ryan as well as another passenger in a momentary panic, then commits suicide out of guilt; in reality, it is not clear how he died. When Murdoch's nephew Scott saw the film, he objected to his uncle's portrayal as damaging to Murdoch's heroic reputation. A few months later, Fox vice-president Scott Neeson went to Dalbeattie, Scotland, where Murdoch lived, to deliver a personal apology, and also presented a £5000 donation to Dalbeattie High School to boost the school's William Murdoch Memorial Prize. Cameron apologized on the DVD commentary, but noted that there were officers who fired gunshots to follow the "women and children first" policy.
* Jonathan Phillips as Second Officer Charles Lightoller: The ship's most senior surviving officer. The film depicts Lightoller telling Captain Smith that it will be difficult to see icebergs with no breaking water. He is seen brandishing a gun and threatening to use it to keep order. He can be seen on top of Collapsible B when the first funnel collapses.
* Mark Lindsay Chapman as Chief Officer Henry Wilde: The ship's chief officer, who lets Cal on board a lifeboat because he has a child in his arms. Before he dies, he tries to get the boats to return to the sinking site to rescue passengers by blowing his whistle. After he freezes to death, Rose uses his whistle to attract the attention of Fifth Officer Lowe, which leads to her rescue. It is unknown how the real Henry Wilde died.
* Ioan Gruffudd as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe: The only ship's officer who led a lifeboat to retrieve survivors of the sinking on the icy waters. The film depicts Lowe rescuing Rose.
* Edward Fletcher as Sixth Officer James Moody: The ship's only junior officer who died in the sinking. The film depicts Moody admitting Jack and Fabrizio onto the ship only moments before it departs from Southampton. Moody is later shown following Mr. Murdoch's orders to put the ship to full speed ahead, and informs First Officer Murdoch about the iceberg.
* James Lancaster as Father Thomas Byles: Father Byles, a Catholic priest from England, is portrayed praying and consoling passengers during the ship's final moments.
* Lew Palter and Elsa Raven as Isidor Straus and Ida Straus: Isidor is a former owner of R.H. Macy and Company, a former congressman from New York, and a member of the New York and New Jersey Bridge Commission. During the sinking, his wife Ida is offered a place in a lifeboat, but refuses, saying that she will honor her wedding pledge by staying with Isidor. They are last seen lying on their bed embracing each other as water fills their stateroom.
* Martin Jarvis as Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon: A Scottish baronet who is rescued in Lifeboat 1. He and his wife were among only 12 people in Lifeboat #1, whose capacity was 40. He was accused of bribing the boat's crewmen not to row back and rescue those struggling in the water, but the British Board of Trade's Inquiry into the disaster cleared them of any wrongdoing and a letter written by the secretary further clears their name
* Rosalind Ayres as Lady Duff-Gordon: A world-famous fashion designer and Sir Cosmo's wife. She is rescued in Lifeboat 1 with her husband. She and her husband never lived down rumors that they had forbidden the lifeboat's crew to return to the wreck site in case they would be swamped.
* Rochelle Rose as Noël Leslie, Countess of Rothes: The Countess is shown to be friendly with Cal and the DeWitt Bukaters. Despite being of a higher status in society than Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon, she is kind, and helps row the boat and even looks after the steerage passengers.
* Scott G. Anderson as Frederick Fleet: The lookout who saw the iceberg. Fleet escapes the sinking ship aboard Lifeboat 6.
* Paul Brightwell as Quartermaster Robert Hichens: One of the ship's 6 quartermasters and was at the ship's wheel at the time of collision. He was in charge of Lifeboat 6. He refused to go back and pick up survivors after the sinking and eventually the boat was commandeered by Margaret "Molly" Brown.
* Martin East as Reginald Lee: The other lookout in the crow's nest. He survives the sinking.
* Simon Crane as Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall: The officer in charge of firing flares and manning Lifeboat 2 during the sinking. He is shown on the bridge wings helping the seamen firing the flares.
* Gregory Cooke as Jack Phillips: Senior wireless operator on board the Titanic whom Captain Smith ordered to send the distress signal.
* Craig Kelly as Harold Bride: Junior wireless operator on board the Titanic. He survived the sinking.
* Liam Tuohy as Chief Baker Charles Joughin: The baker appears in the film on top of the railing with Jack and Rose as the ship sinks, drinking brandy from a flask. According to the real Joughin's testimony he rode the ship down and stepped into the water without getting his hair wet. He also admitted to hardly feeling the cold, most likely thanks to alcohol.
* Terry Forrestal as Chief Engineer Joseph G. Bell: Bell and his men worked until the last minute to keep the lights and the power on in order for distress signals to get out. Bell and all of the engineers died in the bowels of the Titanic.
* Kevin De La Noy as Third Officer Herbert Pitman: In charge of Lifeboat 5.