The Ship That Won’t Sink

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 7 2012 @ 2:25pm


Prospero pinpoints Titanic's enduring appeal:

Over a decade before "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games" made a mint from having shy teen heroines with two gorgeous suitors apiece, Rose was a perfect wish-fulfilment version of the film’s teenage female viewers. Like those viewers, Rose has a comfortable existence, but she still feels stifled—and it is all her mother’s fault. As obnoxious as she is, men are drawn to her inner greatness. She is not untouchably beautiful: Winslet carries some puppy fat and is drenched in garish red hair dye. And at the end, she gets to start a new life with a new identity, far away from a mother who thinks she is dead.

In short, "Titanic" reassures adolescent girls that they are not just grumpy and hormonal, but tragic captives, destined for love and adventure. No wonder they couldn’t resist. The business with the iceberg was just the icing on the cake.

But the male appeal is there as well:

On IMDB, Titanic is ranked 8.2 out of 10 by males under the age of 18—a number on par with teenage boy-targeted hits like Iron Man and the latest Star Wars movie, and higher than films including Captain America and all three entries in the Transformers franchise. Perhaps even more tellingly, Titanic actually ranks higher with contemporary young men than with the 15-year-old girls—now in their early 30s—who saw it three, four, or five times during its initial 1997 run.

Dana Stevens comes around to the film in 3D: 

Titanic isn’t subtle or tasteful or novel—if those are the only qualities you prize in movies, this one’s brushstrokes will probably be too broad for you—but it’s indisputably big and bold and beautiful. The movie’s themes—which go beyond star-crossed love to include class conflict, the ephemerality of human existence, and feminist empowerment through nude modeling—seem to swell up in recurrent waves, like leitmotifs in an opera. A soap opera, sure, but an opera nonetheless, complete with passionate arias (Kate and Leo at the prow) and grand choral laments (the still-jawdropping, and now inevitably 9/11-invoking, sequence where the ship cracks in two and the bodies slide down the deck into the water below). All I know is that somewhere around hour two, my intermittently muttered "oh, brother" suddenly started coming out as "Oh, the humanity."

Another early skeptic, David Edelstein, is also onboard.

(Image via Adam Kaplan)