In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a novel titled Futility, a piece of pure fiction revolving around the world’s largest ship. Titan was a luxury liner and believed to be unsinkable, but one freezing April night, sailing down the Atlantic at top speed, it hit an iceberg and whoosh, sank! Fourteen years later, on April 14, 1912, the Titanic went under with 1,522 people and has remained at the bottom of the ocean for the last century.
Unhappy, uncanny...If you don’t believe me, get hold of a copy of another novel, Walter Lord’s A Night To Remember, on which Eric Ambler’s 1958 British docu-drama recounting the last night on RMS Titanic, is based. The American author points to Morgan’s uncanny vision and the unhappy coincidence in the beginning of his book that hit stores in ’55.
James Cameron takes a song from Eric’s film and has the band on his Titanic strike up ‘On the beautiful blue Danube…’ when Jack steps on the upper deck the first time. In A Night To Remember, the same song had followed a couple as they tripped down the grand staircase, starry-eyed. It amazes me how the past has a way of catching up with the present and foretelling the future. Time has a way of drifting down the ocean of life, in a series of flashbacks and flashforwards…
Last night, I returned to the theatres for a second viewing of James’s Oscar-winning movie with my 13-year-old daughter Ranjika who had not even stepped into this world when I’d watched the Titanic for the first time in 1997 with her daddy. Fifteen years ago, I had smiled and sighed… The tears flowed again as I watched an elderly couple clinging on their cabin bed, watching the water rise in their cabin as they waited to die together… They flowed as I watched ‘bodies’ tumble off the deck as the ship tilted… They flowed as Rose reaches for Jack, finds him cold and lifeless, lets him go and returns to the world they had dreamt of sharing, to live to be a 100 and more…
“Ah, how touching was the end of their love story,” reminisced my friend from Kolkata on BBM. Another dismissed it as “melodramatic”, but both agreed that Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Kate (Winslet) made a perfect match and fondly remembered the sketch Jack had made of her with James’s (Cameron) hands. Yes, those are the filmmaker’s fingers you see in close-up holding the charcoal as Jack draws Rose in the nude!
Can you imagine, Leo and Kate started their memorable reel-life love story together with this love-making scene? Yes, it was the first scene they shot together with James peeping through his camera with instructions galore!
Kate today cringes at the thought of seeing herself in the raw in 3D. “I’m not going to look. I’ll be in the bar by that point. I wish I hadn't shown so much flesh but I was young and I knew I had things to prove,” she was quoted saying in The Sun just before the film’s second premiere.
Leo didn’t walk the red carpet with James and her the second time, but after watching 18 minutes of the new footage a few months ago with the former at a private screening, almost crawling under the seat, appalled at what a “young punk” he had been 15 years ago.
James and his co-producer Jon Landau have spent R92 crore to convert 2,79,000 frames into 3D over 60 weeks so the Titanic could sail back into the theatres on April 4, six days short of when the real luxury liner embarked on her maiden voyage 100 years ago. And it’s not just their stars, many others too are unimpressed today by the movie that bagged 11 Oscars and was the highest grossing film in history for 12 years till James’s Avatar in 2010 streaked past it at the box-office.
Some critics are calling it “too simplistic”, some viewers find it “too melodramatic”. It doesn’t matter what others say. I’m a sucker for a good, old-fashioned romance and like Jon and James, I believe Jack and Rose have returned to make us believe that someone somewhere is waiting for you. Come fall in love again!