The 25th Anniversary Re-Release Proves We'll Never Let Go of Titanic
Written by Julia Brukx
February 13, 2023
Anyone who has known me longer than approximately 30 seconds knows that “Titanic” is my favorite movie. It's not that I go out of my way to bring it up, it's just that that fact happens to answer a lot of introductory questions about myself. What does your tattoo mean? Why are you studying history and art history? What does your bracelet say? Why do you act the way you do? I've likely seen the movie upwards of fifty times–at least a few times a year since the age of twelve–and can quote random scenes from memory. I could tell you which lines were drawn directly from survivor's testimonies (that line about how water that cold feels like a thousand knives). If there was ever to be an obscure “Titanic” trivia game, I would surely take home the prize; I could tell you what the chief officer's middle name was (Tingle), what lifeboat went back (14), or what the chief architect's daughter's nickname was (Elba, for her initials: Elizabeth Law Barbour Andrews). But, until tonight, I had never seen the film in theaters.
Celebrating the film's twenty-fifth anniversary, it sailed back into theaters right in time for Valentine's Day weekend. Though, based on the audience present at the Thursday night screening I attended, couples looking for a romantic night out will likely be in the minority.
The film was presented in remastered 4K exclusively in 3D. There is little doubt as to why this choice was made. The 3D makes little difference to the film; in the first few minutes a few pieces of computer generated submarine equipment are added into the foreground just to show off that the film really is in 3D, but other than that it is hardly noticeable. It is an attempt to squeeze every last buck out of the moviegoers. James Cameron currently holds an impressive credential, with three of the top four highest grossing films of all time being under his name. At the moment, Avatar sits comfortably at the top, but that second place is still currently occupied by “Avengers: Endgame’. “Titanic” and “Avatar: The Way of Water”, both currently in theaters, are within hitting distance, and it's no far stretch to say that part of the decision to re-release the film was an attempt to nab all three spots.
Being too young for the last re-release nearly 11 years ago,I could only dream of the day that I got to watch my favorite scenes play out on the big screen, the magnificent score filling the room as the ship appeared out of the darkness like a ghost ship. I sat in a packed theater, and as sepia-toned footage filled the screen, the crowd was already rife with sniffles. When the title flashed on the screen, they burst into applause. “Titanic” is so ingrained in culture that, even twenty five years later, the audience quietly quoted along with certain lines such as "it's been 84 years," or "draw me like one of your French girls." The film has lasted phenomenally well in the quarter-century since its release; like the girlfriends of the lead actor, the film hasn't really aged. At its center, it's a simple and universal story, one of a woman finding her way to freedom, set against a romantic and historical epic.
Even if period romances are not your thing, there is plenty else to find amidst the three hour movie: there's the impending sense of doom of knowing the skip will sink and still having to watch men in suits debate going faster; there's an exciting survival tale; and there's the story of a treasure hunter trying to track down a blue diamond necklace. It's earned a reputation as a "girl's movie," but every conversation I've had with a man who has actually forced himself to sit down and watch it, rather than simply thinking they know everything by reputation, has ended with a concession of enjoyment. The film also seems specifically catered to repeat viewings due to the tonal shifts and two-act structure. It is basically two movies in one, a Progressive Era romance and a disaster flick, so that once you've made your way through all the drama and tears, you're ready for a light pick-me-up, not unlike the first half of the movie.
And, if I haven't hammered home this point already, it's a really good movie. It doesn’t miss. The acting is fantastic, the direction is spot on. It's made by people who care so deeply about it. Every little thing fits perfectly into place. Prior to the film, there was a trailer for the latest addition to the Marvel franchise: a new Ant-Man. The most recent phase of the MCU has drawn criticism for being bloated and over processed, over relying on CGI and at times not informing actors of the full context of their scenes. It's nice to see, then, a large scale technical production that still makes every detail count.
Though the film's re-release doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the table and the 3D is an obvious money grab, seeing “Titanic” in theaters was still an incredible experience, and I'm already planning out my next viewing. I'll root for continuous re-releases every ten years or so, and I'm excited for the day, 59 years from now, when I can sit down in the theater and say, "it's been 84 years…"