Twenty-five years ago, Academy Award-winning writer-director James Cameron changed the course of movie history with his sweeping, action-packed romance, Titanic as star-crossed lovers Jack and Rose—and groundbreaking visual effects that recreated with startling accuracy the sinking of the “ship of dreams”, became the defining film for a generation. The vividly imagined epic broke every box-office record on its way to becoming a truly global cultural phenomenon.
In every age, a seminal and dramatic moment will arrive that is a catalyst for great change, sending a powerful ripple of emotion throughout the world. At the start of the 20th century, the allure of a wondrous seaworthy creation called Titanic brought together a wide spectrum of humanity, all of whom had their own reasons to be a part of her historic maiden voyage. From captains of industry to hopeful emigrants looking to make their fortunes in a new world, Titanic was a towering symbol of man’s progress toward the modern age.
Today, the universal appeal of Titanic’s themes—themes of human grandeur, the roots of disaster, and the way romance can transcend prejudice, society, and time—remains the same and returns to the big screen in both 2D and 3D for a limited time from 10 February 2023.
“My goal in making this film was to show not only the dramatic death of this infamous ship, but her brief and glorious life as well,” says Cameron. “To capture the beauty, exuberance, optimism and hope of Titanic, her passengers and crew and, in the process of baring the dark side of humanity underlying this tragedy, celebrate the limitless potential of the human spirit. For Titanic is not just a cautionary tale—a myth, a parable, a metaphor for the ills of mankind. It is also a story of faith, courage, sacrifice and, above all else, love.”
When Titanic opened in theaters Dec. 19, 1997, the film became a true cultural phenomenon, its most iconic moments etched into the popular imagination. Perhaps it was the way that the ship seemed to become a microcosm of human life –- a place where conflict and danger never ceased, yet neither did human resourcefulness, courage, and hope. Perhaps it was the sheer beauty of the connection between Jack and Rose, one that neither social conventions nor the ferocious power of nature itself could tear asunder. Perhaps it was the stunningly intricate detail of the production that swept viewers into another world both never-before-seen and deeply real. Whatever the source of its power Titanic took on a life of its own.
Titanic also made history at the Academy Awards, earning a record 14 nominations and winning 11 Oscars. The movie’s incomparable performance helped crown James Cameron “King of the World,” and in the years since its original release, Titanic has remained emblematic of the writer-director’s uncompromising commitment to pushing the cinematic art form forward, cementing his reputation as a filmmaking giant.
Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is a 17-year-old upper-class American suffocating under the rigid confines and expectations of Edwardian society. Once she meets a free-spirited steerage passenger named Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), he opens her eyes to the world that lies outside her gilded cage, and they embark on a love affair that echoes across the decades. Nothing on Earth can come between them, not even something as unimaginable as the sinking of the Titanic.
Declared “unsinkable,” her precious cargo of more than 2,200 men, women and children began their journey from Southampton, England to New York City with a sense of anticipation, awe and optimism. Yet this “ship of dreams’’ ultimately carried over 1,500 people to their death in the ice-cold waters of the North Atlantic in the early hours of April 15, 1912.
Drawing inspiration from this hulking specter below the sea, James Cameron envisioned a love story intertwined with the fascinating details about the ship and her maiden — and only — voyage to further humanize its legendary symbolism
Titanic remains a powerfully human tale. It is here that the heart of “Titanic” beats: Traveling on a ship physically designed to prevent them from ever meeting, third-class passenger Jack Dawson and first-class passenger Rose DeWitt Bukater take the ultimate risk, defying the oppressive social conventions of their time and falling in love.
“Their connection on an emotional level is what transforms Rose from this sort of Edwardian first-class geisha who is dying on the inside into this spirited young woman on the cusp of a new life,” Cameron says about the young lovers. “Jack possesses this natural energy and purity of spirit that makes that transformation possible.”
“There’s a startling fact that emerges from an analysis of who lived and died on Titanic,” Cameron says. “If you were a male in steerage-class, you stood about a one in 10 chance of surviving. If you were a first-class male, you stood about a 50/50 chance of surviving. If you were a first-class female, you stood virtually a 100% chance, and if you were a third-class female, your chances were about 25%. In short, survival was largely a function of gender and class.” Titanic represented the first time that class was translated into body count and published for all the world to see.
In further examining the historic significance and societal impact of Titanic, the film offers a respectful homage to the historic passengers on the famed ship. Yet, the emotional anchor remains with the relationship between Jack and Rose.
“We wanted to tell a fictional story within absolutely rigorous, historically accurate terms,” Cameron says. “If something is known to have taken place, we do not violate it. Likewise, there’s nothing that we show that could not have happened. Our fictitious characters are woven through the pylons of history in such a way that they could have been there. All the accuracy and all the special visual effects are intended for one purpose: to put the viewer on Titanic. It’s a very you-are-there kind of experience.”
Cameron and his team went to great lengths in bringing “Titanic” to the screen, immersing themselves in the ship’s lore and history. Their determination to create the definitive account of this historical event was exemplified by the early involvement of Titanic experts Don Lynch and noted artist Ken Marschall, authors of Titanic: An illustrated History, who were brought aboard as consultants for the motion picture.
Since he was a teenager, Lynch has been researching the ship and its passengers, ultimately joining the Titanic Historical Society to further his studies. Over the course of nearly 25 years, as the Society’s historian, he has become personally acquainted with the remaining survivors of the Titanic as well as the families of many others.
Widely considered the leading artist of Titanic, Marschall’s realistic portraits of the ship are internationally acclaimed for their accuracy and artistry. His work has been featured on the covers of Time, National Geographic and several of Dr. Robert Ballard’s best-selling books, including The Discovery of the Titanic. Upon meeting Lynch in 1976, immediate friendship and a shared passion for Titanic lore would ultimately result in their best-selling book, which grabbed the attention of a world- renowned filmmaker.
“Jim Cameron had read our book,” Lynch says. “He was extremely impressed with Ken’s artwork and wanted to bring it to life on the screen. In the very beginning, Ken and I met with Jim to discuss the project. We then sat down with Jim’s treatment, going through it page by page for physical and historical accuracy.
It was not Cameron’s aim to shoot a documentary, but a narrative film. But his director’s mind in a sense distanced him from the emotion of the task at hand. He had to become a passenger to truly understand the significance of Titanic’s existence.
The filmmakers of “Titanic” spent more than five years researching the ship and the horrific details of her sudden sinking barely two hours and 40 minutes after hitting a massive iceberg. With cutting-edge filmmaking technology to enhance its dramatic story, coupled with current scientific research and painstaking detail, the film depicts for the first time the ship’s glorious launch and maiden journey as well as the tragic beats of Titanic’s dramatic death throes. Throughout, Cameron brings his signature talents to bear, ensuring that audiences will be transported into the heart of this spectacular event. The film’s journey to the screen began more than two years prior to its eventual release, when Cameron himself ventured to the ship’s final resting place approximately 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada and two-and-a-half miles under the ocean surface. It is there where Cameron faced a powerful talisman from the past, finding inspiration in its wake.
Following her debut in the controversial drama “Heavenly Creatures,” the 22-year-old British native is one of the most acclaimed actresses in cinema today. Receiving an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actress in director Ang Lee’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” Winslet has her first starring American role as the headstrong Rose.
“She’s a very spirited girl,” Winslet says. “She has a lot to give and a very open heart. She wants to explore the worId but knows that’s not going to happen. When we first meet her, there’s a sense of resignation and despair about her. Then she meets Jack Dawson and an amazing love, which is based completely on trust and communication, surfaces.’’
Winslet says, “I believe that this story does take you to the point where you would do anything you could to stop that ship from sinking in order for Rose and Jack to be together.” Adds Cameron: “Every single moment that you’re with them, there is this little voice in the back of your mind that’s saying they’re all doomed. This knowledge gives every moment Jack and Rose share an extra sense of poignancy.”
Fresh from his acclaimed performances in “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” and “Marvin’s Room,” Oscar® nominee Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jack Dawson, a struggling young artist who wins his third-class ticket aboard the Titanic in a lucky game of poker. “Jack is a sort of wandering person,” Leonardo DiCaprio says, “who seizes the opportunities life presents to him. At a young age, I think he realizes how short life really is, and that’s a big factor in who he is as a person.”
Seduced by Jack’s artist soul, Rose at first cannot find the strength to extricate herself from her engagement to Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane) and the weighty presence of his family name and wealth. At first, Cal and his intimate circle of wealthy friends look at Jack with a sense of amusement. After Jack and Rose’s chance meeting, Cal invites Jack to dinner in first-class, expecting to entertain his fellow guests at the expense of the young man. Instead, he has set the stage for his own rejection. “Jack Dawson doesn’t exist as far as my character, Cal Hockley, is concerned, at least not at first,” Zane observes. “Except for servants, the lower classes were pretty much invisible to the super-rich denizens of Hockley’s class.”
JAMES CAMERON (Director, Writer, Producer, Editor) is an acclaimed filmmaker and explorer. As director, writer and producer, he is responsible for some of the most memorable films of the past three decades: “The Terminator,” “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “True Lies,” “Titanic” and “Avatar.”
Avatar is the highest grossing film in history with more than $2.8 billion in global box office, beating the previous record holder, Cameron’s own film “Titanic,” which held that record for 12 years. Cameron’s films have also earned numerous nominations and awards, most notably “Titanic”’s 14 Academy Award® nominations (a record) and 11 Oscars® (also a record), including Cameron’s own three Oscars® for Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Editing. Both “Titanic” and “Avatar” won the Golden Globe® for Best Director and Best Picture. “Avatar” was nominated for nine Academy Awards® and won three.
His sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, released December 16, 2022, is also a global phenomenon. In its first seven weeks of release, it has earned more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office and is already the fourth highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. The film received four Academy Award® nominations, including a Best Picture nomination for producers Cameron and Jon Landau; it was also one of 10 films to be nominated for the top prize at the prestigious Producers Guild Awards.
Over the last 17 years, Cameron developed cutting edge 3D camera systems for movies and documentaries, as well as for broadcast sports and special events. He was at the vanguard of the 3D renaissance that has transformed the movie industry in recent years. He also developed unprecedented deep ocean exploration vehicles, lighting and 3D camera equipment. Most recently, Cameron led his eighth deep ocean expedition to some of the deepest trenches in the world. On March 26, 2012, he set the world’s solo deep diving record of 35,787’ in the Challenger Deep in a vehicle of his own design.
Cameron is a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and recipient of their most prestigious award, the Hubbard Medal, as well as the Explorer’s Club medal for Explorer of the Year. Cameron is also passionately involved in sustainability issues, having founded the Avatar Alliance Foundation to take action on climate change, energy policy, deforestation, indigenous rights, ocean conservation and sustainable agriculture.
His production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, installed a one-megawatt solar array on the roofs of their soundstages at Manhattan Beach Studios to generate all the power for the “Avatar” sequels. James and Suzy Amis Cameron, both environmental vegans, founded the Plant Power Taskforce to promote awareness of the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and climate.