I was nine years old when Titanic first came out. Most of the girls in my class were obsessed with 21-year-old heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, who screeched at the lunch table about the film’s “dirty bits.” I wanted to be like them, so I squeaked too, although I had no idea what I was squeaking about.
However, unlike them, I couldn’t convince my parents to ignore the PG-13 rating, so I had to live with the FOMO. When I finally saw Titanic for myself, all I saw was the love story – the rich heiress falls in love with the poor artist and gives up her life of luxury like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet (which also starred Leonardo DiCaprio). For me it was all about the handsome headliner.
But when the film returned to theaters to celebrate its 25th anniversary, I wondered – How is the Titanic holding up today?? And I have to say – it’s different now. I’m sure part of the reason is that I’m older and I don’t pretend to like boys anymore to fit in with the girls (thank goodness). But Titanic is also a tale of wealth and (in)humanity that feels more relevant than ever.
The Titanic is too old to date Leo
Unfortunately for Leonardo DiCaprio, his personal life has diverted some of the focus from this month’s theatrical release of Titanic. If you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Eden Polani, his new girlfriend, is so young that her high school years were cut short by the pandemic.
Of course, this isn’t news to Leo — he’s literally never dated anyone older than 25. However, what is different is be Age – he’s getting older and his girlfriends aren’t. He’s now 48 – three years older than Frances Fisher when she played Rose’s mother – and dating a woman who was two years his junior when he played Jack.
Let that sink in for a second. The age difference between Leonardo DiCaprio and Eden Polani is five years greater than the rift between him and Rose’s mother. Shot. But once I managed to look past it (which was admittedly difficult), I realized that the true story of Titanic is as relevant as ever.
Profit over people – a story as old as time
The film Titanic tells a story within a story. There is, of course, the history of the ship itself and the people on board. But we only learn about Jack and Rose because some treasure hunters looking for a payday drag the 100-year-old Rose out to sea to help them find the Heart of the Ocean, a blue diamond believed to that he went down with the ship.
They show her a digital recreation of the ship’s sinking and eagerly describe every excruciating detail as if it were a soccer game. Rose thanks them for the retelling, but reminds them that going through the very real trauma of the experience was very different.
The self-centered negligence of the treasure hunter team in their search for the sunken Titanic mirrors the attitude of their captain, whose cockiness and refusal to exercise any measure of caution had doomed the ship and its passengers nearly a century earlier. The weaving together of the two related stories provides a poignant reminder that some things never change.
And another 25 years after James Cameron brought the Titanic tragedy back to life, that fact feels clearer than ever. Some of the more influential passengers urge Captain Smith to steer the ship even faster, despite other ships reporting icebergs in the area.
Meanwhile, Titanic’s designer Thomas Andrews tells Rose there are barely enough boats for half the passengers on board. He says there should have been more, but they didn’t want the decks to be cluttered up. Even when the ship sinks and knows that more than a thousand people are doomed to die in the middle of the Atlantic that night, the crew still sends out half-full lifeboats. After all, the wealthy women and children do not want to be overcrowded.
The ship eventually disappears and all that’s left is the sound of people screaming in the ocean and still no one wants to go back to save them for fear they’ll swamp the boats. So they sit and listen as their husbands, brothers, fathers and strangers slowly freeze to death in the dark.
Having lived through the past decade of political turmoil, pandemics, and economic collapse in the United States, it was all particularly painful to watch. All you have to do is turn on the news to hear wealthy people make dangerous decisions, knowing they are not the ones who have to face the consequences of those decisions. Abortion rights, healthcare, police brutality, gun control (or lack thereof), anti-trans legislation—there are too many parallels to list.
Perhaps that’s why younger people today are so determined to change the way the world works. We’ve already seen this movie and we know how it ends. But older people who are stuck and no longer believe in change are steering the ship; they don’t listen because they know their money will get them a place in the lifeboat. So we take the helm ourselves. They don’t protect us – we protect ourselves.
settlement of the debate
Except Jack. We couldn’t protect Jack. Or could we? After years of outrage and debate over whether Jack could have survived with Rose to allow them a happy life, James Cameron finally gave in to public pressure and put the door to the test.
The judgment? I’m afraid you’ll have to watch Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron on National Geographic and Hulu to find out for yourself.
But for what it’s worth, Cameron never really cared if Jack could have survived at the door with Rose. Jack would not did anything that could potentially endanger Rose, even if it meant a chance to save herself. Jack’s selflessness makes him the hero we need in a world where the rich people in lifeboats watch the rest of us drown.
Cameron wanted it to be a Romeo and Juliet love story, but Titanic is better than that because unlike Juliet, Rose is living her best life and ends up throwing that awful diamond back into the ocean where it belongs with the final “fuck you.” “. ‘ to the wealth that held her captive. And that’s the kind of ending we need in 2023.
Experience it for yourself – catch the Titanic 25th Anniversary remastered edition on the big screen in cinemas now, or stream it in its original glory on Amazon Prime.
https://twinfinite.net/2023/02/titanics-profit-over-people-theme-is-sadly-just-as-relevant-25-years-later/ Sadly, 25 years later, Titanic’s “profit over people” issue is just as relevant