Titanic: Collector’s Edition (DVD-2005)
Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski
maiden voyage of the ocean liner Titanic captured the public’s imagination
since the time of its sinking in 1912. Public interest in the disaster increased exponentially when the ship’s wreck
was discovered on the ocean floor seventy-plus years later.
it was a considerable risk when, in 1997, James Cameron went for broke and spent an unheard of $200 million to make the ultimate
film version of the event. Skeptics called the project ‘Cameron’s
Titanic was a grand entertainment. It
became a worldwide phenomenon—the biggest blockbuster ever. In the U.S. alone, it grossed an unprecedented $600 million at the box office.
The film’s worldwide total gross reached nearly $2 Billion. And
at least five or six soundtrack-related CDs were officially released—such was the interest in Titanic lore.
has previously appeared on DVD in a bare-bones film-only release. It now receives
a deluxe 3-disc special-edition treatment along with absolutely terrific extras: a choice of three audio-commentary tracks,
45 minutes of deleted scenes, an alternate ending, documentaries, visual effects breakdowns and much, much more.
note is Cameron’s running commentary track—one of the best director’s commentaries ever to appear on DVD. Like Francis Ford Coppola’s wonderful track for The Outsiders, Cameron’s track is open, honest, revealing and authoritative.
In addition, Cameron’s knowledge of the history and sinking of the Titanic is encyclopedic. Imagine what it would have been like if Stanley Kubrick had provided a commentary for one of his films
and you’ll get an idea of how valuable the Cameron track is.
analogy is apt in more than one way. Both directors have a certain coolness and perfectionism and display mastery of the film
medium. Kubrick used multiple film techniques to achieve the groundbreaking special-effects
and ultra-realism of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Cameron does the same for Titanic and works hard to make the film as accurate
as possible and provide a heightened ‘you are there’ experience. One
magnificent shot of the cruise ship alone cost $1 million, and although the CGI employed has since become a standard tool,
Cameron’s use of it was innovative and groundbreaking at the time.
extras in the set include a clever segment recreating the effect of 1912 newsreel footage as well as a detailed tour of the
beautiful sets created for the film. In addition, there is also an absolutely
mind-boggling time-lapse film detailing the construction of the mammoth, full scale re-creation of the ship, Titanic, that will leave you in awe. Then there is a splendidly wacky
and humorous behind-the-scenes satire of the filming process with director Cecil B. De Mille subbing for director James Cameron. And a special branching-out feature allows one to watch the film and pause periodically
to go behind-the-scenes of the filming and see how a scene was shot or conceived.
But one of
the best extra features is the 45 minutes of deleted scenes and the original ending.
Watching the deleted scenes with Cameron’s comments and English subtitles for the film-dialogue is a powerful
emotional experience that will allow you to appreciate Titanic on a new and even
conceived was Cameron’s vision for Titanic that the intent of the film footage
left on the cutting room floor is somehow conveyed in the film itself by a kind of cinematic osmosis. The cut footage is anything but throwaway material and the scenes add further proof that Kate Winslet’s
Oscar nomination was fully merited.
original ending is also included here for the first time. It is both excellent
and spiritually satisfying, though Cameron was ultimately correct to alter it so as to leave just a bit more mystery in his
Titanic works as
a film for a number of reasons, not the least of which are its archetypes and themes of love and heroics; sacrifice and transformation. Much of the success is due to Cameron’s depth of artistry which is on full display
in this set.
Home Video’s 3 disc Special Collector’s Edition of Titanic is an important
DVD release. For many, it will be the DVD release of the year. For anyone who loves or studies cinema, it is a must-own DVD.