A century after its fatal collision with an iceberg, we’re still remembering the R.M.S. Titanic. Celine was right: our hearts will go on.
On the night of April 14, 1912, the Titanic hurtled full-speed into its ruin, claiming 1,517 lives of the 2,224 on board. One hundred years later, many are doing their part to commemorate those lost on that fateful day. The one hundredth anniversary remembrance started, in fact, on May 31, 2011—the day the ship made its debut a hundred years earlier. The celebratory homage included the launching of a flare over the docklands of Belfast and the festive sounds of horns and applause all around the Harland and Wolff dockyard where Titanic was built.
In the spotlight this year, however, is the tragic anniversary of the liner’s maiden voyage—its one and only journey. Among several others who have and will partake in remembrance of this tragedy, the BBC dedicated a showing of its Songs of Praise to a Titanic memorial, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plans to perform The Titanic Requiem, and the Balmoral cruise ship will embark on a voyage following the route originally intended for the Titanic.
And naturally, something must be done to accommodate the entertainment-hungry public. For theatre enthusiasts, this craving may be satisfied by the upcoming Iceberg – Right Ahead! to be performed at London’s Upstairs at The Gatehouse; the TV-drama fanatics will get their fill from ITV1’s miniseries titled after the ship; and for the rest of us, our hearts go on for the epic romance of James Cameron’s Titanic—this time, in three dimensions. To be re-released on April 4, the 1997 blockbuster is shedding any so-last-century-ness by adopting Hollywood’s latest and greatest trend.
True to its name, the R.M.S. Titanic was the largest vessel on the water at the time of its maiden voyage. Likewise, Cameron’s rendition of the tragedy held the title of history’s highest-grossing motion picture for twelve years. Having cost $200 million to film—the most costly film produced at its time, Titanic’s attention and care to a lavish time at the cinema parallels the ship’s intent on taking the title as the ultimate luxury vessel. With this year’s 3D version pricing $18 million and taking sixty weeks to produce, one wonders if it is all worth it. Does seeing Jack, Rose and the ship come out of the screen merit spending all this time and money?
Having only ever seen one mediocre film in 3D, I cannot vouch for the alleged mind-blowing experience it brings the audience. Yet even after having seen the stunningly shot Avatar, I may be convinced that the $300 million and 10+ years spent on it were worth it. Perhaps its 3D and other revolutionary visual effects account for it having taken the title of highest-grossing film of all time from Titanic.
Whether the motives for turning Titanic into a 3D phenomenon are financial or lie purely with commemorating the shipwreck on its 100th anniversary, the movie-watching public is in for a treat—a modern twist on a classic; this might just be the perfect excuse to watch the timeless romance yet again. And whether the public remembers the ship for the ship, or for its roll in a Hollywood romance, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of its tragic end.