There have been a lot of movies that I have had affect my life whose twentieth anniversaries have come and gone (Clueless is one example), but Titanic was a huge one. When I was fourteen, this movie stood out to me for reasons that are lost to me now. At the time, I was an ostracized new kid at a school where maybe seven people ignored the rampant rumors swirling about me, and took the time to discover they were highly untrue. Maybe I associated with Rose’s plight of feeling that she is “standing in the middle of a crowded room, screaming at the top of her lungs, and no one even looks up.”
When I first went and saw the movie, I was supposed to be going with this guy James (real name) for a date. I didn’t like James. James was the polar opposite of anyone I have ever been interested in, but I was going to go on this date for some reason. Luckily, my inner voice told me I was being stupid, and I broke it off. I ended up going with my twelve-year-old sister and her friend, presumably because I was the ticket inside based off of my age. That, and how I was intrigued to see the movie because of Kate Winslet’s nose in the iconic poster (I have a thing for noses–mainly those of men, but Kate got a pass).
I was immediately captivated. Leonardo DiCaprio was a handsome man, Kate Winslet as Rose was the person I wanted to be (and try I did, much to my horror twenty years later, and also confusing the few males in my classes that I used Rose’s lines on when they tested me), and the story of the sinking broke my heart. I ended up seeing the movie three times, and cried every time Jack died.
Like many fourteen-year-old girls were doing, I ate up merchandise. I had the knock-off necklace (although the stone was much smaller), I bought all the soundtracks (which led to me blacklisting Celine Dion for years, because she was all over the radio, and her voice made me simply murderous–I still can’t listen to “My Heart Will Go On”), had the poster, and all that other stuff. If magazines spoke about the movie, I bought them. My allowance lined James Cameron’s pockets.
And now, it is twenty years later. I have been unable to watch the movie in its entirety for years, and even when I try, I turn it off. I can sit through numerous Holocaust films that cut me to the bones emotionally, but I can’t sit through Titanic. The only things from the movie obsession I have is a clipping from People magazine of Leo and Kate as their characters standing on the interior ceiling of the ship (a pun of sorts, I suppose) and I think the Return to the Titanic soundtrack. I can still quote that movie in my sleep, and remember emotions I had in regard to particular scenes. I can still remember how I confused the boys in my Math class when I called them ‘rude and uncouth’, and internally screaming at myself to stop being an idiot, because I wasn’t helping dispel the rumors going around about me (although those rumors had nothing to do with my behavior).
Needless to say, Titanic has had an impact. It furthered my love for history, corseted ladies, and gentlemen. Mainly, I helped Leonardo DiCaprio take minor roles in independent films for a few years because of the pandemonium of Titanic (sorry, Leo!). I also get a joy out of explaining to younger people that I sat around for three-and-a-half hours to download a minute-long clip of Leo and Kate in the Third Class dancing (dial-up was no joke).
Happy 20th, and thanks for making me feel like an old lady, Titanic!