Is Titanic a "guilty pleasure"? : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

I have never had such a hard time making up my mind on a movie. And I've seen it many times. One minute it's the greatest film I have ever seen, the next it's a sign of the decline of Western civilization. (I'm having trouble with Cameron's perspective, his balance between the fictional love story and the historical events.) Is this movie a "guilty pleasure" for anyone besides me? That is to say, is anyone else even slightly ambivalent about "Titanic"?

-- Dan "Die Titanic Die" Dalton (, March 16, 1998


Dan, don't over-analyze it. Just go with it. Otherwise, you'll ruin it for yourself.

-- Jen "pagoda" Walker (, March 16, 1998.

Jen, you are an absolute star *!! It's been ages since I've come across any wiser words of wisdom (sic). And it probably isn't just Dan who should take heed either. I hope everyone will join me in saluting Jen!

-- Simon (, March 16, 1998.

Here is is an excerpt from the Atlanta Journal this morning. In an article titled, "Big Issues Draw 'Titanic' Viewers, Behaviorists Say," the writer states that the film addresses universal themes of love, duty, and class and this accounts for its great appeal and success. Nadine Kaslow, a psychology professor at Emory University, says the love-conquers-all-theme strikes deep chords in people. "The characters make decisions about passion vs. what's expected," she explains. "Which we envy, because most of us lead our lives based on what we think we ought to do." Also, she says, the movie appeals to the all-American instinct to root for the underdog. In real life, the poor lad played by Leonardo DiCaprio might only get near enough to the socialite played by Kate Winslet to carry her luggage. James Hikins, an Ohio State University professor who specializes in behavior, says, ""Titanic" depicts a disaster that "has always captured the imagination." The movie "assigns blame, celebrates the heroes and provides lessons for society,"Hikins says. It also provides a safe way to address the fact that in life, dreams are often dashed. Most of all, Emory's Kaslow says, we like "Titanic" because it makes us wonder about ourselves. "Would I have had the guts to go back and help other people? We all ask ourselves that, and hope we would have. Would I have had the guts to fight to stay alive in freezing water? That's very deep, but it's the reason people keep going back."

-- Walter A. Dervin (, March 16, 1998.

Dan, you are nuts :) You obviously like it, or you wouldn't have seen it as many times as you have (at least 8, right?). Like myself (saw it 12 times), you probably know how it could have been perfected. Thought to myself today, Who am I to tell artist Cameron how to make his masterpiece perfect, since I liked it sufficiently to see it more than any other movie (at the theater)? If you didn't like it, you wouldn't have allowed yourself to analyze it so much. For me, there was less than 10 minutes' worth that I would have changed (dialogue for the most part). Decline of western civilization? Once I get my email set up, you'll have to elaborate. I saw in this what the writers above did. Its themes are universal. It's not perfect, but then what movie is? Fargo (my 2nd favorite) had great dialogue and was super-precise, but it didn't attempt nearly as much as this did; when you try for the world, you never succeed.

-- Bob Gregorio (, March 16, 1998.

How is it a sign of the decline of Western civilization? That "Silence of the Lambs" won the best picture award is more frightening than the success of Titanic. The film tried to stay true to historical fact and for the most part it succeeded. Would you rather have Titanic follow the Disney formula where historical accuracy is manipulated in order to generate a happy ending? The love story was uncomplicated and pure in my opinion. I don't have any ambivalent feelings at all.

-- Growl (, March 17, 1998.


What are you "guilty" of???

-- Thomas Shoebotham (, March 17, 1998.

Thomas, I guess I'm only "guilty" of overexageration. Bob, I was just using two extremes to clarify my point; there was no real point to calling Titanic a sign of the decline of Western civilization. I like Walter's insightful response. Maybe it's not so much ambivalence as self-doubt (although there are still a lot of things I would change to improve the movie). Jen and Growl: For me, and I'm guessing most repeat viewers who aren't infatuated with DiCaprio, Titanic is not mere escapist entertainment like Star Wars or Jurassic Park. I can't just "go with it". This movie, warts and all, is a rarity from Hollywood these days. It forces you to search within yourself for answers to some elemental questions, at least it does for me. The fact that it has no soul just makes the search harder. For me, the movie succeeds only despite itself. "Titanic" does not have the sophistication and perfection of great art, and any perspective Cameron may have intended was probably diffused by external concerns. But the result is, nonetheless, deeply affecting. And I can't let go...

-- Dan Dalton (, March 18, 1998.

By the way: Growl, you wouldn't be the same person who was posting at Mr Showbiz under the nom de plume "Michelle Kwan", would you? I notice the same unusual combination of attitude, writing skill, and comprehension level. Just curious. ;-)

-- Dan Dalton (, March 18, 1998.

Dan, could you expand on why you believe the movie "has no soul"? Thanks--it'll help me to understand your point of view better.


-- Mary Lynne Nielsen (, March 18, 1998.

Yes, why does this film lack soul? Gene Shalit of the Today Show said the same thing. BTW, I feel "guilty pleasure" probably for different reasons: (1) repeatedly watching people lose their lives so tragically, (2) spending money and time on the same film when I could be broadening my horizons watching others (though I have seen most that were Oscar nominated or critically acclaimed).

-- BobG (, April 21, 1998.

See Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" for a great example (at least in my view) of balancing the use of fictional characters and situations against historical realism in the service of making an historical account meaningful to the audience. Not that I agree with Spielberg's perspective.....

-- Dalton (, July 28, 1998.

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