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Final Film Critique

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Millions of people go to the movies each year to view new films, but how many of those people actually stop to analyze the film. Analyzing a film is very essential in that it is an important factor, in fully understanding the film you are viewing. In the essence of the film’s development and production there are a lot of key people that bring all the aspects of a film together. Not only do the actors’ skills bring success to the film, but all the people behind the scenes do as well. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the 1997 film Titanic written and produced by James Cameron. Through the incredible use of lighting, sound, and visual effects, the story of Titanic brings the viewer front and center for a daunting visual of the dramatic death of the infamous ship.

Paramount’s blockbuster film Titanic grossed over a billion dollars and was the most expensive film ever made. The epic romantic disaster film Titanic was based off of a fictional love story, but was established due to the event of the RMS Titanic which sunk on April 15th, 1912. The story that James Cameron created follows the characters of Jack Dawson played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Rose DeWitt Bukater played by Kate Winslet as they fall in love regardless of the different level of social class. Cameron’s ambition of creating this film was that “he wanted to make an exact replica of the “unsinkable” liner in order to best recreate the terrifying final hours to make filmgoers believe they were actually there at the time of the tragedy.”

Titanic and Company (2014) The story begins with Deep Sea Explorer, Dr. Brock Lovett who is leading a team to search for legendary blue diamond known as “the heart of the ocean”, prevailing to have been lost when the Titanic sank. With the use of a submarine and an unmanned remote control submersible, they explore the ghostly ship that hasn’t seen the light of day since April 14th, 1912. The team concentrates on the guestroom of the first class passenger Hockley looking for a safe that was presumed to contain the magnificent jewel. After recovering the safe, they come up empty handed only to find papers and a drawing. Nevertheless, the drawing was of a young nude woman wearing the diamond necklace. The drawing was aired on news television which then caught the attention of the now one hundred and one year old Rose who is the woman in the drawing.

When she reaches out to Brock Lovett via telephone, he flies her out to the exploration ship in hopes of her recollecting the story of Titanic and where the treasured diamond may be. The story line follows Jack Dawson who is a poor guy that happens to win two third class tickets aboard the RMS Titanic at a lucky hand of poker. Jack spots out beautiful first class girl Rose Rose DeWitt Bukater who is on her way to Philadelphia to marry her snobby fiancé Cal Hockley. The first evening aboard the Titanic, Jack is lying on a bench smoking a cigarette and star gazing when Rose runs by threatening suicide by jumping off the back of the ship because she feels hopelessly trapped in her situation.

Once Jack convinces her not to they have a connection between each other from there on out. On the clear night of April 12th, 1912 the ocean water was exceptionally smooth which can make it more difficult to see icebergs. The lookout post was missing the binoculars so it wasn’t until and iceberg was right in front of them that the men saw it. It was too late and the ship hit on the starboard side. It was determined that the ship would sink because too many compartments were full of water and they only had about an hour before it would go down. In the middle of all this happening Cal’s body guard places the famous blue diamond in Jack’s pocket to make it look like he stole it and Cal has him locked up. Once Rose finds him and sets him free they are anxiously looking for a life boat to get on, but Rose refuses to leave Jack.

Cal finds them again and sees that Rose is cold so he puts his jacket on her which he neglects to remember has the necklace in the pocket. Since Titanic was known as the unsinkable ship and they thought it would take up too much deck space, there weren’t enough life boats for all of the passengers. Jack and Rose go down with the ship and find a piece of debris floating that is only big enough for Rose so after a short amount of time Jack dies from the freezing water. When Rose gets saved by a life boat she gets aboard the Carpathia ship where Cal looks for her but she stays hidden and is presumed dead because she refers to herself as Rose Dawson. She finds the diamond necklace in the jacket pocket and when the now hundred year old Rose drops the jewel into the ocean to rest at peace with Titanic off the back of the exploration boat to no one’s knowledge but her own.

Of the two thousand two hundred and twenty eight passengers aboard only seven hundred and five survived. The narrative structure of a film is the form that was used to tell the story. In the movie Titanic the form that was used was chronological order “which means that events in the movie’s plot follow the same order they would occur in the story, the order of real time.” Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011) If the film was in a non-linear form the events happening wouldn’t have made much sense. The difference between the film’s story and plot are that the story is about the “who” “what” and “where” questions about the movie and the plot is the “how” and “when” questions. “Story is about trying to determine the key conflicts, main characters, setting and events. Plot is about how, and at what stages, the key conflicts are set up and resolved.”

Pacific Cinémathèque (2014) The narrative structure is different ways of analyzing a film. The design elements and techniques used to create the Titanic film were incredible. With the help of cinematographer Russell Carpenter, James Cameron’s number one goal was to give the audience the chance to see and feel what it was like to be aboard the RMS Titanic before the accident and during the epic disaster. In the daytime high-key lighting was used to create sunrays beaming off of the ship. The use of low-key lighting is what really gave the dramatic effect to the ship as it was sinking. The only light being used was simulated moonlight. On the deck of the ship the type of lighting used was three-point lighting to create a dim night time feel but still illuminated enough to see what was going on between the characters.

In order to create a real life looking set of Titanic, “James Cameron created a seven hundred and seventy-five foot long set of the ship which sat in a seven acre, seventeen million gallon tank of sea water.” Anlimara (2012) The costume designs for this film really showed who were the upper class and who were the people from steerage. The woman’s dresses like Rose’s were always very elegant with tons of bead work and lace. The first class men were all in tuxedos. As for the steerage costumes the men wore britches and shirts and the women wore long skirts and collared blouses. The mise en scène used to create this film really gave it the real life feel either of what it was like to be upper class or in steerage and what it was like to be on Titanic.

The editing and technology used in a film are what really make the wow factor for the audience. For the shooting of the actual ship the use of wide angle lenses are what created a wide picture for the audience to take in focused shots of the wreckage. According to our text, “A short focal–length lens also takes in a wider field of view than a normal lens and is thus often called a wide–angle lens.” Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011) The special effects to create this film were incredible so we’ll just touch base on a few. One major special effect was creating the effect of a real sinking ship. “An elaborated platform manufactured for indoor filming was used and cameras had to be placed at precise angles to capture the sliding movements of the “on-board passengers” as the ship was been wrecked. The positioning of the cameras also had to be synchronized with the mechanical motions of the platform, which was controlled by the production crew.”

Zhang June (2007) Another incredible piece of special effects used was instead of hiring a thousand or more people to make up all the passengers on the ship Cameron created digital characters that the computer pasted faces and clothing on. Finally, the spectacular scene of a four hundred foot section of the poop deck standing straight up in the air at a forty-five degree angle, Cameron created a hydraulic rig. According to Anlimara (2012), “there are shots of stunt men jumping off the ship and falling off the poop deck. That film was scanned and the falls were digitally stretched from 20-30 feet to 70 feet. The effects artists used digital water to make the point of impact more dramatic.” (para. 35)

The special effects that can be created with today’s technology are unbelievable. All films put some type of impact on society, but the permanent stamp left on the world from the movie Titanic is like no other. From the opening scenes of the film showing viewers real footage of the wreckage, it instantly gave you a lump in your throat. We are seeing a ship that actually sank sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic in ghostly silence. Then there’s the romance of an upper class woman and a poor boy, which back then was frowned upon. When it comes to loading the lifeboats and it only being woman and children it makes you wonder if society would still do the same today. At the end of the film where Jack sacrifices his life for Rose to live it shows society what true love real is and the things you are willing to do for someone you love.

Something truly amazing that was created was the Titanic Artifact Exhibition. This is a recreation of the ships interior with recovered artifacts from the ship itself. I got the chance to see the exhibit in Las Vegas and it was truly amazing and left me in awe. Thinking about all the pieces it takes to create a film is quite exquisite. The hours and dedication it took to create a film like Titanic were endless. The real life filming of the Titanic on the Atlantic Ocean floor was filmed two years before the movie was released. Although all the ideas usually come from one person or a few, it takes a ton of people to make such a movie possible. The lighting and special effects created for the movie Titanic are what gave it the realistic feel as if the audience were experiencing what all the people aboard Titanic went through.

Anlimara. (2014) The Making of Titanic. The Dream Page. Retrieve from: http://www.anlimara. com /dreampage/titanic/makingtitanic.html
Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From watching to seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Pacific CinĂ©mathèque. (2014) What is Narrative Structure? In Point. Retrieved from: thecinematheque.ca/…/wp…/LanguageofFilm01
Titanic and Company. (2014). RMS Titanic Ship of Dreams. The Making of James Cameron’s Titanic. Retrieved from: http://www.titanicandco.com/filmtitanic.html

Analyzing a film comes from so much more than just what the movie itself is about and the content that it consists of. Things that can be gained through analyzing films is the hours and thought it takes into creating a film. Producers think about what the audience is going to see and how to make it even more elaborate with the use of lighting, sound, shots, angles, special effects and so on. This class has completely changed how I view movies because originally all I paid attention to was what the movie was about. In my introduction at the beginning of this class all I talked about was what the movie Blindside was about not any of the mise en scene details mainly because I didn’t even know what that word meant

. Searching for film critiques on the internet often show what films are interpreting, but at the same time we all have our own opinions and may interpret a film differently than others. That being said we should all critique a film ourselves rather than go off what other people have to say about a movie. This class really hasn’t change my understanding of the effects a film can have on society because my views have remained the same. All films have a different effect on society whether they are good or bad. For example although the story of Titanic is horrific I think it had a positive effect on society because it gave the audience a reality check of how times used to be and also just how quickly life can be taken from you. The skills that I have developed from this course are that sometimes you need to look beyond the big picture and analyze the smaller details that make the whole picture. I think those skills can be used in any profession and that they will cause a positive effect on anyone.

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