TitanicAFI Rank: #83 (10th anniversary ranking)
Year Released: 1997
Director: James Cameron
Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher
Titanic didn't make it onto the first release of the AFI top 100, but when they redid their list for their 10th anniversary the movie launched right up to spot #83. While I have a few minor quibbles with this movie, I do think in general it deserves that location.
First, the story is an important one that many people relate to. It's about the hubris humans often have about being "above all fates" - and how they are brought down to earth again. It's about the rights of women and man, of upper class and lower class. It's about simple human failings trumping technology. It's about gorgeous cinematography. It's about human relationships.
Yes, some of it feels quite "stagey". It's creaky in spots because it is being so tightly controlled that at exact moment 15.358 we are going to feel sad, and then at moment 39.284 we will then cautiously feel hope. Many movies suffer that problem, though. It would be nice if it could be a bit more subtle; if they could trust a bit more to follow the story without needing such blatant, over-the-top clues. But maybe that's unfair. Maybe the reason this movie resonates with so many people is that they DO put in place those solid clues, so that all ranges of movie-goers can travel along the path.
Amazingly, where so many movies fail the quite basic Bechdel test, Titanic passes - but not in a way one might think. It all comes down to a scene with Rose's mother being nasty to an upstart "new money" woman. Their conversation together is all about them setting their social ranking with each other, and has nothing to do with men at all.
I have seen this movie many times and do appreciate its artistry.
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AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100