It might be hard to believe, knowing that it went on to become the highest grossing movie ever, but once upon a time, there were people quite opposed to the production of James Cameron’s “Titanic”. With the fewest of details, it seemed that a man who had made his name through sci-fi action and horror films like “The Terminator” and “Aliens” was going on to produce a film based on one of history’s most tragic accidents, and there was a lot of concern that the film would be exploitative and disrespectful. That didn’t turn out to be the case, of course – “Titanic” ended up being a character-driven romance told against the backdrop of the eponymous ship, not so much centred on the disaster itself – but the care with which the studio handled the subject matter was quite evident in its marketing.
Its 3D re-release for the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking is possibly less well-handled and a touch more exploitative. Although the same could be said of the shameless monetisation of the disaster, particularly in the city of Belfast in which it was built, it’s the film’s marketing I’m talking about right now. The 3D medium has been called a lot of things, but a lot of comments regarding re-releases like this and “Star Wars” have been driving at where the filmmakers felt there was need to add stereoscopy retroactively. Most people know James Cameron’s feelings towards 3D, coming off the back of “Avatar”, which he directed, and “Sanctum”, which he produced, but wonder why he would bring “Titanic” back at all.
The trailer for “Titanic 3D” seems like it’s trying to address this question, but simultaneously disregards any attempts to stay tasteful. The film itself, largely unaltered from its 1997 incarnation, isn’t tasteless, I’m sure many people will agree, but its presentation in the new trailer would lead me to believe otherwise. Less emphasis is given to the characters which drive the film, besides a little introduction and a few scenes of intimacy between Rose and Jack (presumably as a reminder that Kate Winslet does indeed disrobe on-screen), and more to the action: passengers screaming, drowning, falling, even a brief shot of a crew member being hit by a massive metal propeller on the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Arguably, the film’s most iconic moments are absent from the new trailer. What about the violinists who go down with the ship? There are a few shots of the present-day Titanic, but what about Rose in her old age? Rather than represent the tone of the original film, the new trailer shows simply the most action-packed bits and pieces – those which appear most impressive in 3D, no doubt, but only appear out of context and in poor taste when viewed in 2D. It’s almost like a brief glimmer of insight into what this re-release is: exploitative, opportunistic, and wholly uninspired; unfortunately, very representative of recent trends in cinema.