It will soon be 100 years since the famed ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg in the Atlantic and slipped forever under the waves. The subject of many books, television plots and films, arguably the most popular version of Titanic's sad story is the 1997 James Cameron film titled, well, Titanic. And that film is gearing-up for a re-release next month, both to honor the 100th anniversary of the sinking, and to make the studio a bit more cash by having converted it into 3-D. In regards to the re-release, my local paper has a blog post up wanting folks to recollect the first time they saw Titanic.
For me, it was on a late-December night in 1997. I went alone to see Titanic for the first time. It was, to be truthful, a rather depressive time. My dad had passed away from cancer four months prior, and my maternal grandmother had just been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. And the radio show that I'd hosted and nurtured for 2 1/2 years was going off the air because of a problem with the station's tower. It was a time of sadness and endings and, for the first time, I was dealing with death on a very close scale. One might therefore say that Titanic came along at just the right moment to fully toy with my emotions.
Most of us know the story of how the great ship went down in icy waters, taking thousands of its passengers with her to a deep and cold doom. But what Titanic brought to the table, more so than any other telling of the story I've seen, was a focused love story on two young, ill-fated lovers. Leonardo DiCaprio as a vagrant named Jack, and Kate Winslet as an unhappy high-society girl named Rose were thrust together by events larger than themselves, and managed to bond so magnificiently before being separated by fate's unfeeling hand. When Jack died, slipping away from Rose into the dark Atlantic, I remember thinking that this is what it's really all about: life and death, love and loss. This is what drives us. This is why we're here.
So, there I sat, in a theater in Savoy, IL, surrounded by people but alone, coming to grips with the loss of a parent, and preparing to lose a beloved grandparent. And, to a lesser extent, attempting to be ok with losing the radio program that I'd devoted so much time to. And then Jack, in the embodiment of a young, vibrant and sexy DiCaprio (whom I totally crushed on) was there for a time and then he, too, was gone. After the film was over, I got up and left the theater, wiping the tear stains from my cheeks, feeling a little sadder, a little wiser.
In truth, I went back to the theater four more times (yes, you read that right) over the course of the next few months, and on those occasions, took friends & family with me to see this wonderful movie. And I cried each and every time until, finally, the catharsis was at an end. I purchased the home video of the film, but have rarely watched it. This a movie that plays better on the big screen. And now, I find myself wanting to go back to Titanic next month. 3-D or not, it's time to revisit an old friend, who meant so much during such a critical time in my life. A time when careless youth ended, and the realities of the world became all too apparent.