Titanic is a 1997 drama about the sinking of the RMS Titanic. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio
and Kate Winslet as two members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the
ill-fated 1912 maiden voyage of the ship. The main characters and the central love story
are fictional, but some supporting characters (such as members of the ship's crew and
some of the passengers) are based on real historical figures, and shots of the real wreck
lying at the bottom of the Atlantic are used in the film's opening sequences.
In 1996, treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team explore the wreck of the RMS Titanic
searching for a necklace set with a valuable blue diamond called the Heart of the Ocean.
They discover a drawing of a young woman reclining nude, wearing the Heart of the Ocean,
dated the day the Titanic sank. News of this drawing on television attracts the interest
of the woman in question, Rose Dawson Calvert, now 100, who informs Lovett that she is the
woman in the drawing. She and her granddaughter Lizzy visit Lovett on his ship, and
she recalls her memories as 17-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater aboard the Titanic.
In 1912, young Rose boards the departing ship with the upper-class passengers, her mother,
Ruth DeWitt Bukater, and her fianc, Caledon Hockley. Also on board is Margaret "Molly" Brown
(based on a real person), who makes the acquaintance of Rose's party. Distraught and frustrated
with her engagement to Cal and her controlled life, Rose attempts to commit suicide by jumping
from the stern, but a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson intervenes. They strike up a
tentative friendship as he shares stories of his adventures traveling and sketching, and
their bond deepens when they leave a first-class formal dinner for a much livelier gathering
Cal is informed of her partying in the steerage and forbids Rose to meet Jack again. Rose's
mother also commands her to give up Jack and save her engagement to Cal in order to ensure
their financial welfare.
Eventually, Jack confronts Rose alone, but she is inclined to ignore
their growing affection because of her engagement and responsibilities. However, after
witnessing a woman encouraging her seven year old daughter to behave like a 'proper lady'
at tea, Rose later changes her mind and decides to offer her heart to Jack in a forbidden
As a sign of her affection, she asks him to sketch her nude wearing only the Heart
of the Ocean, which she had previously been offered as an engagement present by Cal.
Afterwards, the two run away from Hockley's manservant, Spicer Lovejoy, and they go below
decks to the cargo hold. They enter William Carter's Renault traveling car and consummate
their love, before escaping up to the ship's forward well deck. Rose decides that when
they arrive at New York, she will leave the ship with Jack. They then witness the ship's
collision with an iceberg, which critically damages it. Meanwhile, Cal discovers Rose's
nude drawing and her taunting note in his safe. He plots revenge, deciding to frame Jack
for stealing the Heart of the Ocean, and bribes the master-at-arms to handcuff and lock
Jack in his office. Although Rose is at first indecisive, she later runs away from Cal,
risking her chances of getting on a lifeboat with her mother, in order to find and rescue
Rose manages to free Jack with a fire axe, and finds that the third-class passengers are
trapped below decks. Frustrated, Jack breaks through a gate, allowing Rose and others to
make their way to the boat deck. Cal and Jack, though enemies, both want Rose safe and so
they manage to persuade Rose to board a lifeboat. But after realizing that she cannot leave
Jack, Rose jumps back on the ship and reunites with Jack in the ship's first class staircase.
Infuriated, Cal takes Lovejoy's pistol and chases Jack and Rose down the decks and into the
first class dining saloon. After running out of ammunition, he angrily shouts at them saying
that he hopes "they enjoy their time together" and realizes that he has unintentionally left
the diamond in the pocket of an overcoat that Rose is wearing. Hockley returns to the boat
deck and gets aboard Collapsible A by pretending to look after an abandoned child. This is
one of only two lifeboats remaining on the ship. Although Jack and Rose manage to avoid Cal's
fury, they find that the lifeboats are gone. With no other options, they decide to head aft
and stay on the ship for as long as possible before it sinks completely. Eventually, the ship
breaks in half and begins its final descent, washing everyone into the freezing Atlantic
waters. Jack and Rose are separated under the water but shortly reunite. Around them, well
over a thousand people are dying painfully from hypothermia.
Meanwhile, in Lifeboat 6, Molly Brown tries to go convince Quartermaster Robert Hichens to go
back and rescue people, as there is plenty of room, but he refuses, knowing that the boat will
be swamped. Jack manages to grab hold of a wall paneling, and gets Rose to lie on it. While
lying on the wall paneling, Jack makes Rose promise that, whatever happens, she must get out
alive. When Fifth Officer Harold Lowe returns with an empty Lifeboat 14 to rescue several
people from the water, Rose tries to wake Jack, but then realizes that he has died in the
freezing water. Upon this realization, she begins to lose hope and wants to stay there to
die with Jack, but remembers her promise. She does her best to call out to Lowe, but she is
hoarse and he does not hear her and rows away. Still remembering her promise to "never let
go," Rose manages to unclasp Jack's frozen hand from her own, letting his body disappear
into the sea. Throwing herself into the water, Rose takes a whistle from a dead Chief Officer
Henry Wilde and blows it, and is heard. She is pulled to safety, joining the five other
survivors from the water, and is taken on board the rescue ship RMS Carpathia.
On the Carpathia's deck, Rose notices Cal coming down searching for her. When he turns in her
direction, she covers her head and turns away, not letting him see her face. This is the
last time she ever sees Hockley. Upon arrival in New York City, Rose registers her name as
Rose Dawson and presumably starts a life on her own. Through the elderly Rose, we learn that
Cal went on to marry another woman, and later committed suicide as a result of business
losses in the Great Depression.
After completing her story, the elderly Rose goes alone to the stern of Lovett's ship.
After she steps onto the railing, it is revealed that she still has the Heart of the Ocean
in her possession. She then drops the diamond into the water, sending it to join the remains
of the single most important event of her life. She kept every promise she had made to Jack,
and did the things they ever talked about doing. Rose lies in her bed, next to photographs of
her life's achievements, as the shot pans across her into darkness. The film ends with a
vision of young Rose reuniting with Jack at the Grand Staircase, surrounded by those who
perished with Jack on the ship. They kiss and embrace, and all the people on the staircase
start to applaud with open arms. It is left up to the viewer to decide the meaning of the
ending, specifically whether if Rose is only dreaming or if it is truly a vision of Rose
reuniting with her lover in the afterlife.
A year before Jack and Rose fever swept the world, this TV movie premeired as a two night
showing on November 17 & 19th, 1996 on CBS. While not critically acclaimed, the movie does
add some interesting points to the Titanic saga. As usual, the movie shows life in First Class,
represented by fictional characters Wynn Park (Peter Gallagher) and Isabella Paradine
(Catherine Zeta-Jones). There is a representation of true life characters like Molly Brown
(Marilu Henner), Bruce Ismay (Roger Rees) and the Captain (George C. Scott).
It does make an attempt to show real life happenings onboard, like the story of The Allison
family and their psycho nanny, Alice Cleaver. And LOTS of superb 1912 fashion here!
Film interpretations of a historical event oftentimes tread over similar terrain, but the
similarities between the miniseries Titanic and James Cameron's big-screen version are
striking. From the below deck dancing of poor folk to the elitist prima donnas,
this is another superb retelling of the famous ship's demise.
Catherine Zeta Jones, prior to her star-making role in Mask of Zorro, plays Isabella
Paradine. Her husband and daughter await her arrival in the States, unaware that Isabella is
rekindling the flame that once burned between her and Wynn Park (Peter Gallagher), the father
of her daughter.
Sonsee Ahray, who bears somewhat of a resemblance to Kate Winslet, plays Osa Ludvigsen, a
young religious immigrant who is aboard the famed liner with her parents and siblings. She
strikes up a friendship, and an instant love affair, with a pickpocket named Jaime Perse (Mike
Doyle). Osa's morality instantly clashes with that of Jaime's and, by the end of the film,
it's obvious that he will change his ways.
Surprisingly, the special effects in this miniseries are up to par with Cameron's and the set
design and costumes are impeccable.