It was the ship that many claimed could never sink. But it did.
You all know the story. One of the most legendary stories in history happened in 1912 when a passenger ship sent out from England to New York City. 2200 people were on board and there were many aspects to the boat, from being a ship of luxury . Separated by class with the rich people on top and the lower class in the dregs of the ship.
Then comes along celebrated filmmaker James Cameron, who at the time was a major force in the American film industry. The 90s were very kind to him from the mega success of TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY and the modest success of TRUE LIES. But he had his eye on the biggest story of all, the sinking of the Titanic ship in its maiden voyage in 2012, and he spared no expense in bringing it to the screen at a great cost and production, even for the later 1990s.
TITANIC is very much a love story but told in Cameron’s style and watching it in 2023, it is a truly amazing experience to behold. It starts as an underwater exploration in current time when an expedition is looking for an ancient diamond that belongs to a survivor named Rose (played as an older woman by Gloria Stuart). As Rose begins to reflect, one of cinema’s most powerful shots happened where we transport all the way back in time to 1912 right before the ship sails. We meet Rose (now played by Kate Winslet) right away and soon her love interest Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) who then meet on the ship and fall in love rather quickly. For the most part, we see their journey through their perspective, though the action does break away from Rose before the ship hits the iceberg and we witness the ship sinking in almost real time from many class perspectives.
It’s all in the details. Cameron’s true success here was both the simple love story works along with all of the bigger details of the ship around them. It’s all so wonderfully paced that when the iceberg arrives and strikes the ship, we get so emotionally involved with the impending disaster
TITANIC was a troubled production of course, and originally the movie was supposed to come out in the Summer of 1997, but was held back for a Christmas release. At the time a lot of industry insiders predicted a major bomb was happening because of the delay, but Cameron was insistent in finishing the movie properly and getting it out. I still clearly remember seeing this movie on opening day, on a double bill with the James Bond title TOMORROW NEVER DIES, in a packed but not sold out auditorium and falling in love with the movie instantly and firmly believing this was going to be a huge hit.
This slowly but surely became the most successful movie of all time, and one that exploded on the scene and became a cultural phenomenon. It was the rare movie that EVERYONE wanted to see, and the movie kept making $30 million dollars, every week, for several months.
I always felt the movie was given a hard time a bit after its release and after winning 11 Oscars. There was a bit of a backlash and criticism on its dialogue and even running time, but I always felt that people were just sick to death of constantly hearing about TITANIC after its popularity. Time, however, was very kind as the movie then became an even bigger smash on home video and theatrical re-releases in the 3D format, and the movie still has people discovering it even to this day. TITANIC is one of the last grand cinematic epics and it’s one that I still love to this very day.
About The 4k Blu Ray:
Let’s get the best part of this new release out of the way….no 3D! Seriously, no 3D. The most frustrating aspect of the recent theatrical release (along with the 2012 re-release) is that it was only in the 3D format in my home city and no 2D screenings were available. There was a demand for 2D screenings and for whatever reason they were unavailable as Cameron was pushing for 3D technology.
The movie was originally filmed in Super 35 film in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio with no 3D anywhere to be found at the time, and this much-needed restoration is absolutely stunning with far more detail in every single way. I saw far more fine details in set design, costumes. There are some slight issues with the visual effects that the earlier DVD and Blu Ray releases hid a bit better with the lower resolution, however. In particular one shot of Jack and Rose running from a blast of water and you can clearly see their faces are digitally manipulated onto what are clearly stunt doubles, and some issues in the final sinking of the ship and some process photography. Even so, the amount of detail, color balance and film grain in this transfer is incredible and even when it’s showing some of the limits of effects work at the time, it’s still an eye-popping experience.
The Dolby Atmos audio as well is a stunner. This was back in the somewhat early days of digital sound on film formats, and boy did sound mixers really seem eager to please with their mixes. TITANIC is loud and aggressive when it needs to be, the James Horner score filling the sound-field and even more subtle effects come through a lot better on this audio restoration.
All of the bonus features are included on the Blu Ray, with just the 4k disc containing the audio commentaries. Though there is no Apple TV code included, Paramount was also gracious to send me one and I noticed that they are all carried over for the release, which was also just updated on the Apple Store. That said, I still wish digital copy codes would still be included on physical releases.
4K UHD Disc
- 2005 Audio Commentary featuring James Cameron
- 2005 Audio Commentary featuring various cast and crew involved in the film
- 2005 Audio Commentary featuring Don Lynch and Ken Marschall
Blu-ray Bonus Disc
- (NEW) Stories from the Heart (HD 35:58)
- Reflections on Titanic (HD 1:03:46 – 4 Part Doc)
- (NEW) Titanic 25 Years Later with James Cameron (HD 42:06)
- Deleted Scenws (with Optional James Cameron Commentary) (HD 57:28)
- (NEW) Behind-the-Scenes Presentation Hosted By Jon Landau (HD 34:13)
- Additional Behind-the-Scenes (35 featurettes) (SD 34:54 Total)
- Deep-Dive Presentation Narrated by James Cameron (SD 15:31)
- $200,000,001: A Ship’s Odyssey (The Titanic Crew Video) (SD 17:54)
- Videomatics (SD 3:14)
- Visual Effects (SD 7:46)
- (NEW) Trailer Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau (HD 8:16)
- Music Video – My Heart Will Go On (SD 4:45)
- Still Galleries:
- Titanic Scriptment by James Cameron
- Storyboard Sequences
- Production Artwork
- Ken Marschall’s Painting Gallery
- (NEW) Concept Posters and One Sheets
- Credits (2005) (SD 00:25)
There is also a much more expensive box set also available right now that will take up a lot of room on the shelf but has an additional book and props from the movie. I’m more of a fan of a smaller package that fits nicely on the shelf, but the option is here if you want it.
Overall, a slightly disappointing regular package even though there’s a great transfer here. I really wish we had a more deluxe set with more packaging, a digital copy code and even just a slipcover for such an important movie. Even so, it was a joy to see this movie fully restored and looking as great as ever.
TITANIC is now available on 4k Blu Ray. Our thanks to Paramount PR for sending along a copy for review.