Watching Titanic as an adult

Much has been said about this. I know I’m not the only one, but I must have my say. After all, watching Titanic was quite a memorable part of our just-out-of-childhood-early teens years. How could I not want to express myself.

All I remember from watching the movie (on VHS!) is crying at the end and the keyrings with Leonardo DiCaprio that my female classmates were trading afterwards. The frenzy surrounding Leo and the adoration of said classmates were the main topics of that school year. Girls were scratching out “Leonardo” with hearts next to the name on the surface of school desks instead of paying attention in math class and wearing Titanic movie poster T-shirts.

My family and I were slightly overwhelmed by beach towels also bearing the likeness of Rose and Jack flapping from every souvenir shop on our trip to Paris that summer. Titanic the movie was literally everywhere and on what felt like everything. Not to mention, My Heart Will Go On was THE slow dance song at every pre-teen school dance in the vicinity back home. Swaying to lyrics on the weighty subject of a heart beating forever for love, while the slightly sweaty hands of a pre-pubescent boy were resting on your waist? Ah, those were the days.

Sitting down to watch the movie today, I find anticipation running somewhat high. My eyes well up as soon as the first hints of what we know to be the theme song accompany the opening shots of the Titanic wreck. Flute music always makes me teary and as an adult I find my mind grasping the tragedy of the real events behind the film more strongly then when I was a child. Of course, the love story makes for a very approachable movie, especially since more than enough has been documented about the search and ultimate discovery of the Titanic by Robert Ballard in 1985. In fact, I find myself not paying much attention to the technical terms during the “present day” part of the film, as the underwater equipment roams over the forever sleeping shipwreck.

The shipwreck itself draws you in, with the background knowledge and the expectation of the love story yet to unfold mixing together to make one extremely sentimental. Details that didn’t stick in memory before speak differently now, like the chandelier that gives off a slight hint of having once sparkled, or the empty boot lying on the floor – so sad.

Despite remembering the movie fairly well, the joyous music in the beginning still produces the (eerie) feeling that nothing could go wrong. Yet at the same time every line Jack and Rose utter (especially Jack) seems to be double-edged with an ominous meaning. “Somebody’s life’s about to change”, Jack proclaimes before winning tickets to Titanic in a game. His description of just how cold the ocean water feels is practically clairvoyant.

What stands out in the movie is youth straining to live, which is palpable both in the two main characters and the actors themselves. Jack’s first excitement at spotting dolphins in the water, Rose’s incredible 17-year-old sadness, loneliness and despair. “I mean it, I’ll let go!” – “No, you won’t.” The scene where Jack first sees Rose and she looks over to him is simply perfect.

It’s a pile of glorious nostalgia, by now so many classic scenes and quotable quotes. Despite knowing what happened, you still want to believe they might be able to do something. Maybe that’s just the romantic in me talking.

Oh, and while I shed plenty of tears during the scene long after the Titanic sank, it was the sequence at the very end that totally got me. Was it supposed to be cheesy? Somehow it wasn’t.

Just one more thing, though. And the Internet has long since (not always nicely) caught up to this. Ahem: THERE WAS TOTALLY ENOUGH ROOM FOR BOTH OF THEM ON THAT BOARD.




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