Titanic

For better and for worse, James Cameron’s hokey yet moving $200 million blockbuster (1997) tells you quite a bit about first class, a little about third class, and nothing at all about second class. This is mainly because Titanic, unlike most disaster movies, has virtually no subplots; the whole 194 minutes pivot around a fictional love story on the doomed ship between a rebellious bride-to-be (Kate Winslet) and a penniless artist (Leonardo DiCaprio). The elemental style and broadly defined characters recall D.W. Griffith at times (though there’s no equivalent to either of the Gish sisters), and for a movie set in 1912 this seems entirely appropriate. Some of the invented story is certainly fanciful, and a few details are downright stupid, yet overall what the movie has to say about its eraand, more implicitly, our ownin terms of class rings true. All things considered, Titanic is old-fashioned epic filmmaking that carries a wallop. With Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, David Warner, and Bill Paxton. (JR)

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