Is Titanic just a high-budget Hallmark movie? Or is it a serious look at a profound historical tragedy?
We watched Titanic for the first time in a decade. Some of us watched it for the first time ever. It led to a passionate debate, “What if we’ve been all wrong about this film? What if it’s more than the memes and GIFS would have us believe?”
The performance, the themes, the Oscars, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, true love, it’s all up for a discussion in this episode of The Meaning Of The Movie.
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Rob: Welcome to the meaning of the movie, our podcasts, about what matters most when it comes to the film. I'm your host, Rob. Stennett here with my cohost, Andrew Harmon. Hey Andrew. What's up Rob?
Andrew: Glad to be back.
Rob: Good to have you back. And we have John Bolin. Hey Johnny. Hey Rob. Hey Andrew.
Andrew: John's back. Hey, John.
Andrew: We did miss you. We got to talk about the end of the world last time and you weren't even here. I know
John: it. You just
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Rob: We love action movies. We love Saifai. We love horror, but of all the movies ever made, we are talking about Titanic, Titanic,
Andrew: baby tannic. And
Rob: I have so much to say about this movie, but my foundational thing comes to these two questions. Is Titanic, a serious movie about a significant tragedy. One or two, is it the most high budget?
Rob: Hallmark movie
Rob: So if you had to pick one of those two things yet, you can't say it's a little bit of both. That's cheating. You have to pick one of those two. Where do you
Andrew: land? Um, I I'd say it's a serious movie about a significant tragedy,
John: John. So I want to lean into that first answer, but I think I'm going to go all in with the most expensive hallmark movie ever.
Rob: I'm also on team, the most high budget hallmark movie ever. Oh man. And
Andrew: so we've been out to dry here again, that way. You're both wrong. So let's
Rob: go, you're on an island again, Andrew, but I think first of all, what I want to say is when I say high budget, hallmark movie, you may hear me rolling my eyes at it, but I actually have a lot of respect for hallmark movies.
Rob: In fact, I don't talk about this very often, but I was hired one time to write a hallmark movie. And so I spent about three weeks watching 10 to 20 hallmark movies and really breaking them down and analyzing them and seeing what they did and seeing why they worked. And so, uh, there's actually four beats of what happens in a hallmark movie.
Rob: Do you want me, do you want to hear the four kind of major beats or movements that happen in every single one? Sure. Okay. Beat number one is a beautiful woman who has everything she needs. Except true. Love
John: is a check box for Titanic on that one, for sure. Sure.
Rob: Number two, a mysterious stranger comes into our life.
Rob: He's not perfect. He's far from it, but he's perfect for her. Okay. Enter Leo. Okay. Number three, he teaches her to have a love for life. He sees her for who she really is when no one else does. And number four, she changes her outlook on life because of him. And despite her misgivings realizes that he is what she has always been looking at.
Andrew: Very good.
Rob: Very good. So that is like, like you've watched hallmark movies all the time. These are the four things that happen. And as I've thought about these four things, I was like, this is the foundation of what Titanic is. And I even went and read the like plot summary on Wikipedia and it pretty much reads like, just like that.
Rob: Like it's about a woman and she's, you know, rich and then there's the young popper and all this sort of thing. And so I was like, all right, this is really. I love story. It's Andrew. It kinda makes me think of like what you were saying about diehard, which you're like diehard thinks it's a Christmas movie, but it's actually this, I think the same thing about Titanic Titanic thinks it's a movie about a serious tragedy, but it's actually a sappy love story.
Rob: And that's what it is. Well,
Andrew: let's, let's dive in on the whole life love story thing for a second, because I'm glad that you sort of drilled down on. What you meant by hallmark movie? Because I do think that like, romantic movies have gotten a bad rap lately, especially in like American culture. So like, if you're going to like, see a romantic movie, like as a genre, like what's our shorthand for a romantic movie, like, what do we call it?
Andrew: Like, what's the genre, romantic comedy romcom, right? Rom romantic comedy. We assume that if it's a romantic movie, it's a comedy. Like we have. Almost culturally, we've suggested to ourselves that if we're going to make a romantic movie, it has to be funny. Or we have to be poking fun at something that an honest, sincere movie about falling in love is either cheesy, like a hallmark movie, or it needs to be like silly, like a Ryan Reynolds, Sandra bullet movie, but that a normal, good love story is somehow not on the table anymore.
Andrew: And I think that's kind of odd and I think that's a whole different conversation, but like, Make those anymore. And when we do they're immediately ostracized like the notebook for as much as it's like criticized, it was like a cultural milestone and it's like a pretty decent movie. Right. But we just don't make authentic, honest love stories anymore.
Andrew: And I think that's kind of strange. The
Rob: notebooks is going to be our next episode, by the way. So
Andrew: tune in to listen to the three guys. Talk about the notebook,
Rob: like episode
John: 300, I think you're you're right, Andrew. About. 'cause like even the notebook would have those same four beat points. Maybe the question is, is Titanic a tragedy movie in a way, uh, think of all the natural disaster movies that are there, or is it a love story?
John: It's definitely more love story than it is a tragedy movie.
Andrew: Right. And I think if you look at any like romantic plot link link, if you take like princess Leia and Han solo, you pluck that out of star wars. I think their love story follows the same beat point you just said. Like whoa. A leader of the rebel Alliance has everything she needs.
Andrew: She's running this thing. And then this lovable scoundrel shows up and she's telling the truth. It's true. Is this guy right? Like, I think Kohler movies are like somewhat predictable in their, in their structure, but it also is something that like we, as story loving humans is kind of relate to and we want to find that thing.
Rob: here's my, what's so fascinating to me about Titanic and why I thought we should do an episode is before 1996, You say the word Titanic and what you think about is this hubris and this incredible tragedy of an unsinkable ship. Now, if I type in Titanic on-line and just say, what's the first thing that you think of you think of I'm flying them.
Rob: You think of my heart will go on. Like, that's the first thing that you think of, and it is incorrect. That there's like significant tragedy where so many lives were lost, where so much goes on, has now been retconned into like, oh, this the greatest love story of our generation. It would be like if that we made a movie a hundred years from now about the insurrection and they were like, the true insurrection was an insurrection of the heart.
Rob: And all of a sudden it's, system's love story that takes place in the middle of the insurrection, like Edwards and like people who live that day are like, wait, what, that's what you think of when it comes to the insurrection? Like that is what has happened with Titanic. And that's, what's amazing. As the way that we think about the actual tragedy itself has been totally rechanged and redefined because of this.
Andrew: And I have to admit when you suggested that we watched this movie, I had not seen this movie all the way through it before. And so that was my full picture of this movie going in was like Celine Dion standing on the bow of a ship. You know, or dress blowing in the wind singing near far wherever you are.
Andrew: Right. That was my whole whole picture. So I was like ready to strap in for a big sappy story. And it's just not what the movie is. I think like I sat down and watched a totally different movie from what. Expecting. And so I was blown away by what I think the movie, like again actually is what's there versus what it's been MIMA fide two in the last 20 years.
John: So Andrew, you saw this movie for the first time, just, uh, a month ago,
Andrew: right? Yeah. Well the whole move for the first time. So when I was like 14 years old, I was house sitting and someone had this on VHS and I was like, I had it when it came out, I was late. I was like 10 when it came out. So I was like too young to see Titanic, but I was like, how?
Andrew: And I was like, oh, it's the forbidden Titanic movie. I've never been able to see. So I like popped it in and it was so long. It was two VHS tapes. And I watched the first VHS tape and it's this whole love story. And then the boat hits the iceberg and it's like, insert cassette number two. And I was like, nah, the boat sinks.
Andrew: And I didn't put it in. And I went and watched Braveheart or something, which is also two cassette tapes. Um, so I'd never watched the whole movie. I just kind of gave up on it when I was 15. I was like, this is cute and just moved on. So I'd never seen the whole thing, uh, until the other day when I watched it.
Andrew: And I, uh, I, I loved it secret to all the listeners out there. Uh, I love spoiler alert, spoiler alert. It's great.
John: So Rob, tell us about your first viewing experience of Titanic.
Rob: So I was like in college and every girl who I knew was. Fascinated with this movie. I think what's so interesting about it is nothing will ever happen.
Rob: Like it, again, I don't believe because it's one of those movies that had a pretty decent opening weekend, but every single week and afterwards, more and more and more people went to see it to where it smashed all the records. Like if you look at Spiderman or end game or whatever else, yeah. They're smashing records, but most of that money comes from the first two weekends.
Rob: Titanic was. 14 weekends in a row where everyone was seeing it and talking about it. And I remember seeing a trailer for it and like, oh, this is going to be an epic story. And when I was like 19, I saw it and I was like, oh, this is just a cheesy love story. And kind of rolled my eyes at it and even rolled my eyes at a winning best picture.
Rob: So I hadn't revisited again for a long time. So my
John: experience, I think it came out in, in, in November, December, right? So it was right around Christmas. It was, it was the winter time put it that way. And, um, we went to the movie theater in Michigan in the dead of winter and our theater that the heat was out.
John: It was. It was funded, refunded all of our tickets. So we're in a cram packed theater. Everyone in the theater is freezing and shivering, and we're watching a
Andrew: movie about people freezing
John: to death of hypothermia. And so that was my Titanic viewing experience.
Andrew: It was like the James Cameron four D experience
John: full on, uh, all the senses experience for us.
John: So I felt like my. My heart would, would go on and I don't even know half of what I watched. I was so cold. And so, but it was a great
Rob: movie. I think like what's amazing for me is Andrew, what you described as well. And that's part of the reason I wanted to talk about it, which is. My film guy reputation as like, no, I like serious movies.
Rob: I like Scorsese movies and I like Paul Thomas Anderson movies. And so by the time this was coming out, I was kind of rolling my eyes at it. And especially like, even back then, it was like Leonardo DiCaprio. He was the guy, you know, like every girl was in love with him. And like the song was everywhere. You could not walk into a mall.
Rob: Uh, Starbucks turned on the radio. Like you can not escape that song in that music video. It was just so bombarded. And so I think for 20 years, I was just like, I'm out on this movie. And then I did rewatch it and I thought, oh no, for 20 years I've been wrong. This movie is actually incredible. How did you guys feel watching it?
Rob: Like when you just watched it, like, what did you feel as you were watching?
Andrew: I mean, I was so sucked into it. And so like emotionally connected to the whole thing. Again, I was surprised at how much I loved it and surprised by what the movie was. The first 20 minutes of it is. In present day 20 minutes, like the first act of the movie, not like a prologue three minutes, like three minutes of Borana
Rob: There's dudes and jumpsuits it's looks like, you know, just like, oh, we're on a Naval exploration mission. That's really jarring, STO
Andrew: Exactly. Yes, totally. And I think that I've got two reasons why I think this is a serious movie and not just a high budget, hallmark movie or a schmaltzy from. And my first reason is that beginning section by starting with the bill Paxton section it frames the movie as this is about something larger and about the Titanic as a whole.
Andrew: It is about this moment in time and this tragedy and they spend probably, I don't know, five minutes of that first 23 of like just showing the wreckage. And that love theme is occasionally playing overshots of the record. So it's setting this tone. We haven't even met Jack and rose. We don't even know that their characters yet the boat is the character.
Andrew: They introduce you to first. And I think by setting it up like that, they're couching everything that comes after as something that sits within, um, you know what I'm trying to say it, like, it sits within that. It's
Rob: like, Hey, this is an archeology adventure. This is like, we're, we're really serious. What was this boat?
Rob: What did it feel like to be in there? And James Cameron was meticulous, like almost a madman about recreating that boat. Every single detail, like he wanted, like the actual chandelier's to be made on a crystal. They're like Mr. Cameron, we can have something that's like five times cheaper. If it's just the synthetic it'll look the same on camera.
Rob: And he was just like a mad man. He's like, Everything has to be authentic and it almost shut the budget down. Like they shot in Mexico and they really created like a real boat and really created like real soundstages where they're flooding stuff in. He, he was so passionate about being authentic and every single detail being right.
Rob: And you're right. It's couched in that at the very beginning where it's like, okay, we're going to show you the boat and what it looked like. And here, I mean, he actually went and got submarines and got real footage of the actual Titanic.
Andrew: It's like the real thing down there and they show you like the actual like doors with all the like cool lattice work in them that later he's recreated and are a part of the set, but the whole opening.
Andrew: And then the, again, like the last, probably 10 minutes of the movie happen away from Jack and Rose's story and set up this question of what is the Titanic actually about? Is it a. The treasure and the mystery as these kind of like somewhat crass, crude, uh, grave robbers, for lack of a better word are making it out to be.
Andrew: And they're like very cynical. And then when rose shows up, she presents this heart, uh, the humanity.
Rob: Yeah. Humanity of, of like, okay, this is a real person who really like, was affected by. Okay, John, how did you feel watching this movie?
John: Well, it was different watching it the second time through which I think is really fascinating to practice that to S to watch rewatch a movie that meant something to you at an earlier point in life.
John: So the first time I saw it, of course, I was in the, the polar express of a theater. And so that definitely impacted my viewing experience somewhat. And so when, when, when the, the Titanic really swept a lot of the Oscars that year, I thought, well, I'm not sure it was as good as everyone's making it out.
John: When I rewatched it a few months ago, I was enthralled to the same way that Andrew described it. I had a higher appreciation for the production value for what James Cameron accomplished with the production value. The cutting-edge special effects. The fact that he didn't even make this movie until he knew he could make the movie the way that he wanted to.
John: And then not to mention the I've kind of always thought when I first saw VNR to DiCaprio in this film, I thought he was way overrated. But watching it, the second type, I thought Heath magic.
Andrew: And it is a movie
John: star performance. There is just something unbelievable.
Rob: Yeah. I wouldn't go as far to say, like, this has one of the best love stories on screen that I've ever seen of really, they make you feel.
Rob: The love between them. Um, I can't, I can't believe how earnestly I'm talking about like the love between Jack and rose, but people I'm here waving my hanky, taking you to church and saying like, that is a true love story. Like it's powerful, but I, I felt the same way. I watched it with my. Daughter was like, okay, she's like 14.
Rob: Like we could watch this. This is kind of when you watch Titanic. And then, you know, like I was just like sucked in like every single second. I was like, this is filmmaking at its finest. And you mentioned the Oscars, John. I want to take a moment and talk about this. It won best picture. Do you know the other things that it was up against the other movies?
Rob: I don't know. Okay. I've got lists. You guys ready for it yet? Let's go. All right. Here's the list of what Titanic was up against? This was back when they only did five movies for best picture. So it was Titanic. As good as it gets with Jack Nicholson, the full Monte. What is the last time you had a full Monte conversation?
Rob: Like that movie has just evaporated in the middle of
Andrew: the time.
Rob: Uh, and then the last two last two were really good though. Last to Goodwill hunting. Okay. And LA confidential. Now when the Oscars happened, I was like, it is a travesty, like a saving private Ryan versus Shakespeare in love level, travesty that Goodwill hunting, or maybe LA confidential didn't win.
Rob: I was like, those are such better movies. I have to admit. I still love both those movies and I'd be fine with either one of them winning best picture by Titanic is right there and hanging with everything a best picture should be. The score, the cinematography, the acting, the effects. It is when we say cinematic, like this is a cinematic experience and that's how I felt watching it.
Rob: I was like, oh, that's why I want to talk about in the podcast. I think we've missed, remembered this movie and misremembered how great it is. 'cause like you said, Andrew, all we think of as the gifts, the memes, the little, you know, clips versus like, oh, this is actually like a movie that takes you on a long kind of slow journey, but a powerful one it's captivating every second.
Rob: Absolutely. What words you guys for you guys like the most meaningful scene? Was there a scene where like some rose, like, this is the heart of the movie, like, this is what it's called. For me,
John: uh, the, the heart of the movie was the scene in the steerage department. When Jack took rose down below where his people were and she danced on the table.
John: For me, that was the moment where we see the contrast between the dinner conversation. That happened moments earlier in the first class. Here's people that have everything, but have nothing. Down to the steerage department or these people that, you know, look like they have nothing, but in fact they have everything.
John: It's just an incredible look at the contrast in that. And then of course, we follow that through, into the scenes when the actual tragedy happens and they're trying to get out of the gates and everything
Andrew: else, but
Rob: what's amazing about that moment is, and that whole. Is I'd forgot. This is a movie about class.
Rob: And we talk about the meaning of the movie. One of the big, big themes that's through the whole thing is like, there's a first-class and a level of people who are first-class and then there is a lower deck and like a lower class. And you see the way that like Leonardo DiCaprio, like, does he really fit in at the table?
Rob: Does he know table things to say and everything else? And then you see him actually like. Succeeding on that world, which is like charming. But then when he takes her down into his world and they're doing the dance and she does the ballet thing and like stands on her tippy toes and everyone cheers. When I say it's a great love story like that, those are the scenes that like you fall in love with each other and you realize like, oh, these two need each other in a way that's.
Andrew: Right. I think John, you're dead on. I think that sequence, which is not the dead center of the movie, because the boat sinks for a really long time, but the central theme of the movie, the dinner conversation, Jack has a long monologue in there where he talks about like the meaning of his life. And then when we cut to down in the steerage section, it sort of shows that, and I remember it as I was watching the movie.
Andrew: And it got to that monologue. I was like, oh, this like sums it up. One of the things that James Cameron does so well is he's able to take something that you expect, or that is like a simple trope and then imbue it with much deeper meanings. So it's this class. Struggle of like the rich people who kind of suck and then like the poor people who are happy that we're sort of used to, but then he takes it the extra mile.
Andrew: And in this conversation at the dinner table, it's not just like rich and poor, uh, Rose's mom is criticizing Jack for having like a meandering meaningless existence. And she says like, oh, and you find that rootless existence like satisfying. And he says, yes, I do. I mean, I've got everything I need right here with me.
Andrew: I've got the air in my lungs, a couple blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning, not knowing what's going to happen or who I'm going to meet or where I'm going to wind up just the other night. I was sleeping under a bridge, and now I'm on the grandest ship in the world. Having champagne with you, find people.
Andrew: I figure life is a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You never know what hand you're going to get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes and to make each day. And they do a little toast. And to me, that right there sets up what this movie is doing, which is deeper than a love story, which is talking about.
Andrew: What does it mean to enjoy your life and to live your life? Well, and then they go show that down in the steered section with these people just authentically not caring about judgment or anything, and just enjoying their lives. And they set this whole thing with this massive ticking clock of this impending tragedy.
Andrew: So what does it mean to make your life count? When the audience knows it's about to end, and I think that's a really, really fascinating story. Well,
Rob: and what's so amazing is like, I mean, I talked about this beat, but like she has everything she needs except for true. But you really like, you kind of roll your eyes at it, except for this movie does such a great job of explaining she's at a fancy breakfast.
Rob: She has everything she needs. She has her own private quarters and she is miserable. And I think that's, what's so powerful is you see how much she's suffering and then you see the life that Leo brings. And it's incredible.
John: It's not like she's without any kind of romantic interest, right. Because she's, is she engaged to
Rob: Billy Zane?
John: engaged to Billy Zane and of course they make him a great sort of villain in this. You love to hate him a little bit, but, but you know, he's a, this guy is a good looking wealthy, has it all together, guys. So it's not like she is, doesn't have a love. She doesn't have. Trula and that becomes all of life that becomes like what makes her come alive and, and, and you see that transformation in her.
John: And just that one evening together from the drawing room to the kit, to the carriage, to the deck, you just suddenly see her like coming alive and realizing this is what I've been looking
Rob: for all along when what's so interesting is like, so this movie comes out. A year or so after Romeo and Juliet came out Bosley or men's one and Leonardo DiCaprio plays Romeo.
Rob: This is literally another Romeo and Juliet story. This is Montague's. This is Capulets. This is two like kind of star-crossed lovers. And we talked about how romcoms are, how we frame a love story. For hundreds of years, it was tragedy is how he framed up story, particularly Romeo and Juliet, which is like, Hey, there's love, there's love, but it star-crossed and it's going to go wrong and they keep leaning into that star.
Rob: Crossness so interesting. Even from the fact when Leonardo DiCaprio first wins his way on the boat. And he's so excited, I got tickets to the Titanic. I'm the luckiest man in the world. And as view it, like it's such a great moment because as viewers. Oh, man, you just signed your death warrant, you
Andrew: know, totally well.
Andrew: And one of the things with like the Romeo and Juliet newness of it, right? It is set in the, in the shadow of this massive impending tragedy. But I think one of the things that love stories, we roll our eyes at do that. I didn't end up rolling my eyes at, with this one is that they set up love as the.
Andrew: Right. Like my life is without meaning, unless I have true love and true love is this weird nebulous, romantic feeling. And that's not why Kate falls in love with Leo. It's not because he's like a hotter dude or Leonardo DiCaprio though. He is Leonardo DiCaprio, right. Or that he's somehow says the right things or has the smoothest line.
Andrew: It's that he provides her a window into a life that she wants. And he is her avenue into a life that is worth living versus a life that is not fulfilling. She wants to jump off the ship in the beginning because not because. If fiance is abusive or a terrible dude or whatever, though, he is both of those things, it's that her life is stifling and she has no out for what she sees is a meaningless existence.
Andrew: And Leo provides her an avenue into an existence that has meaning. And so she finds love with him because he brings this new outlook on life. And I think that's a much more captivating picture of love than what we get with a lot of cheaper. Romantic movies that we do in fact, forget and roll our eyes at.
Andrew: I think that's a
Rob: great point. And I think he also like values her and sees her. And he's like, everyone else is saying, this is what you need to do. This is what you need to be. He looks at her and says, what do you want to do? What do you want your life to be? Who are you? And like values who she is. And like, yeah, that's kind of easy for us to say, like, that's what it should be, but it was something of a cost then when it was like everyone else, the rose character is like telling her who she is.
Rob: And Leo's like, no, I see something different in you. And that's why, again, it's not just like, oh, we're sexy and words. So in love, it's like, no, there's a real heart connection there that is meaningful.
John: It seems like James Cameron really emphasized this image system of a heart, right? Because the movie is about Kate finding her heart or rediscovering what her heart really was.
John: It's the title track of the movie. It's the symbol of what Billy Zane gave her as a gift, which really wasn't a true heart. It was just a gaudy symbol of something that wasn't true. And then Jack was able to really bring. The thing that made our heart truly come alive to actually find this true love in her heart.
John: Can I say
Rob: one of the thing you just mentioned, James Cameron, and it's so interesting that James Cameron filmography is the Terminator aliens Terminator to the abyss. He does all these like epic scifi movies. And then out of nowhere, he makes this like incredible romantic love story and kind of never really doesn't again.
Rob: And I think maybe avatar a little bit, but like, I think that's another thing that's so fascinating. This is the guy who made the movie that made teenage girls Swoon. Like this guy who's like known for gory action packed. Scifi movie makes this like really tender, heartfelt
Andrew: story. That is fascinating.
Andrew: Cause that's not his like genre. But I was thinking about this when I was thinking about why this movie is more than just a romance. And I think this is what James Cameron does is he takes the structure and trappings of something that is. Like a love story or like an action movie Terminator two. Right.
Andrew: And then he packs all of the scenes with something that is remarkably. While keeping it also very simple. So it's enjoyable and a thrill ride, but then you're emotionally connected to it. Like Terminator two is about a mom figuring out how to like take care of her son and a family unit forming. Like it's this deep family movie about the love between a mother and a child, like truly.
Andrew: And so many of the scenes and the monologues are about that. Within a very simple movie, about two people, tried to get away from a killer robots. Right. And. I think he, he has like a remarkable gift for making something entertaining and simple and straight forward. That then is emotionally deep, which is strange because I don't think of him as a good writer, but the way he structures his stories actually are remarkably effective.
Andrew: I want to kind of piggyback
Rob: off that and talk about my most meaningful scene, which is it's the scene where she goes down into the ship as it's sinking and just all those scenes where like the water's rushing in the lights are flickering. They are so effective. That's where you do see James Cameron, the kind of guy who made aliens, the guy who made Terminator, you see all those skills at work, because I can see you feeling freezing in the theater, John, because those that like she's dripping wet, an ice water and just going through and it's visceral the way it feels.
Rob: And I love the scene where she goes Leonardo, DiCaprio's kind of chained to the pole and he's like, okay, you've got to like get me out. And he's like, all right, he takes the ax and he's like, why don't you practice? And she goes, and she swings and just, she's aiming for the handle and misses it by like four feet.
Rob: He's like enough practice is the one, like there's enough, one really great joke in the movie. But it's also like what gives the movie so much? Meaning is like, he's like, okay, I got to trust you with my life because you're the only one who can save. And just that whole sequence there. I was like, that's the, that's what gives it so much meaning and heart and soul is that sequence down in the bowel and then them just like fighting for each other.
Rob: I thought was incredible. Yeah. Was there a least meaningful scene to you guys? A scene that was just like, ah, I don't know, to this really work.
Andrew: I think my least meaningful seen is when they're in the bowels of the ship and Billy Zane realizes that they're having an affair and he starts shooting at them.
Andrew: Um, it's to me, that was where it got when it crossed the line into weird cheeseball jealous lover, romantic movie, and like, suck me out of reality. Like the boat is sinking. They're on the lower deck. You're a whole gun, a dye. You don't need to shoot them. This seems just absolutely absurd. Um, like you don't love her.
Andrew: He like, just like save yourself and let her drown, like you don't have to like to shoot at them. It was a very odd moment that felt like it didn't have any character motivation. And it was just like a little extra action that didn't need to be. Whereas all the other action moments were like super motivated, like guards, closing gates on people because it was their job to protect the first class people.
Andrew: And it's like, horrifying. Like all of that was like packed with. Context of how this was happening. And when Billy Zane pulled out a gun, instead of shooting at them, I was like, yeah, get the heck out of here. This is weird.
Rob: Yeah. James Cameron is like, I'm going to turn it up to 11. Billy Zane is almost like mustache twirling.
Rob: Right. And I was
Andrew: like, put the mustache back, bro. Like just, just keeping your child stealing south and put the mustache in the
John: gun away. I think I would agree with Andrew on that. So I'll double tap that one. Every other action sequence really does drive the story forward. That didn't necessarily move the story forward, I guess, in some ways with his character.
John: Um, but that was pretty well established already. We didn't like him. It wasn't needed for us to feel any more about what was happening to our two leads. So I think that's where I am too.
Andrew: Yeah. Him stealing the kid to sleaze his way onto a boat says way more about his character and his choices. Definitely than him like pulling a gun on the two love interests.
Rob: He is this incredible villain. I mean, it's like Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, Billy. Like, that's the list of like great villains. I mean, he is so like smarmy the way he steals the kid. And then he says, okay, I'll take Jack with me and she's being lowered down and he's like, you know, I'm lying. And he's like, I know.
Rob: And it's just like, it's just like, which
John: has doesn't he plays it
Andrew: fantastically. Can we talk about that moment? By the way, when the two of them manipulate her to get on the lifeboat because they both want to save her life. And then she goes down like four decks and jumps off. And jealous back onto the boat.
Andrew: I was so mad at her in that moment. I was like these two guys, one of whom doesn't really love you, but they just save your life. They just sacrifice themselves to save you. And you just jumped back on the boat. I was super upset and I was watching that portion with my wife. And I was like, that's so stupid.
Andrew: And she was like, oh, I would've jumped back on the boat too. And then me and my wife got in a fight about it because she was like, I wouldn't get off the boat without you. And I was like, why would you do that? Like, if I'm saving your life, let me save you. And we got into a whole tussle about it, uh, because apparently, uh, if we're ever on a sinking ship, we have to leave together and not.
Andrew: And, uh, I sorta hate that because you know what, if there's only one seat I want to save her, it was the whole thing. I
John: think that scene to me. And it did show you the humanity of both of those guys. I mean, I thought the movie did a great job of showing you how in the midst of tragedy it does bring out the best and the worst.
John: People regardless of their class. I mean, that's a lot of what the movie's about.
Andrew: And, and to me, that's how it elevates itself above the love story thing is that whole second half is people making choices in the face of horrible situations. Right. And what do you do? And there's like whole scenes with unnamed.
Andrew: Sailors who are Manning gate stations having to like choose whether they let the poor people die or not. You know, it's like people having to make these like really epic choices. Do we let the people out and cause a stampede and everyone on deck dies and no one gets into the boat potentially? Or do we let all the people die or do we let them fend for themselves?
Andrew: Like it's, it's these horrible choices that you're like, I don't know what I would do in this moment. I think that whole thing. What do you do? What is right? What is moral? How do we react during tragedy? Like just elevate it so far above just like a classic. Well,
Rob: and my like other choice for most meaningful seen would actually just be the dudes on the deck who are playing the violin.
Rob: And they're trying to like, cause in some ways it's just insane, right? It's like, everyone's dying, everyone's screaming. Why do you do it? And they're like, no, we want to like, keep the presence of calm and then no one's listening. And then finally it's just like, we're going to keep playing this because our art means something to us.
Rob: And we're just going to do it for ourselves. And that scene really got media. They cut away between Billy Zane shooting at people in the back of those guys, like playing on the violins. But like when they went back to those guys who were playing, I was like, this is powerful.
Andrew: Abs. Absolutely. I love that.
Andrew: You said that, like at some point they were just playing to play together. Like something about the song was. Uh, that's, that's a really interesting way of looking at that moment. Okay.
Rob: Here's the ultimate question. Is this one, a Leonardo DiCaprio movie or two, a Kate Winslet movie. If you had to pick like one person, this is whose movie it is.
Rob: Who would you say, John? Who would you say? Leo or.
John: I think it's a Kate Winslet movie. Why is that? Well, because it's her story. I think Jack is actually the impact character on Kate's life. Kate is the one who opens a story. She closes the story as an old woman. It's her story. So she seems to me to be more the central protagonist.
John: And I think Jack is the impact character in her life. Even though we, when we, most people, when they think of Titanic, you think of. Just because he's Leo, but I think it's more Kate's story than it is. Jack's
Andrew: story. Andrew, I think it's a rose movie, but it's a Leonardo DiCaprio movie, right? Like rose is the protagonist for sure.
Andrew: She's the one. Ultimately has to learn how to hang onto her own life and like take her own life by the horns and steer. But Leo is so electric. I was, I was watching it like Katelyn. That does a good job, no complaints, but Leo is just like lightning in a bottle in this movie. He's so good. That there's a reason you think of this as a Leo movie.
Andrew: He's so charming. He's so believable that like, oh, I'm in love with them, you know, I'd be like, yeah, man, like, I'll leave Billy Zane to go with you, Leo. You are the man. I think his charm absolutely electrifies the whole move and
John: it definitely launched both of their careers, but it was. Launched Leo's career into the stratosphere.
Andrew: Girls were in love with him in Romeo and Juliet, but they were wearing plastic lockets with his face around the fifth grade. When he was in Titanic. It is just one
Rob: of those incredible, like star making movies. It's like rebel without a cause. James Dean, you know, you have like Butch casting, the Sundance kid, Robert Redford.
Rob: You have like top gun with Tom cruise and then you have Titanic with Leo is just like the second he steps on the screen. He sparkles he's electric. It's almost like asking is the dark night a Batman movie or is it a joker rugby? And it's like, as I go, okay, then Batman's kind of the guy, but joker just every time he steps on screen, it's something else.
Rob: Right. And that's what Leo does in this movie.
Andrew: And that's not to say that like Kate Winslet isn't crushing it. Like she does a really good job, but there is something about Leo's performance that is. Absolutely star making. Well, the
Rob: reason I asked that question is because on rewatch, I was like, oh, wow.
Rob: He's just kind of like what John said, the impact character, but Kate does everything. In fact, one of the other scenes that's really meaningful to me is like, all this stuff has happened. They actually end up on that little, like slab together where it's like Leo's in the water and she's on it. And I don't know if you've guys seen the article.
Rob: Of like, couldn't she have just let Leo on the board with you. Have you seen emails? Oh yeah. And there's MythBusters episodes about how they actually couldn't both fit on it or whatever else. Right. But regardless of what you think about that scene, what's powerful is the scene that comes after it where there's just dead bodies all over the water.
Rob: There's the one guy who's whoring through its or rowing through all the bodies. And then all of a sudden she realizes she has that whistle and, or she finds the whistle, she swims over to the guy and she starts blowing the whistle. And you just see this kind of. Her learning the lesson of what the story is, which is like, this is the girl who is near suicidal just a few days ago is now in the freezing cold water whistle in her mouth saying, come save me.
Rob: I'm still here. Don't let me drown. Right. And that's where I realized like, oh, this is her story. Totally. In a way that we kind of.
Andrew: Yeah. And, and that arc of wanting to voluntarily kill yourself, because there's no way out to jumping in iceberg water so that you can swim to a whistle to save yourself after just escaping the Titanic and watching someone you're in love with die.
Andrew: That level of arc is just really, really moving. It was a gripping moment. I think it's so unfortunate that maybe the biggest meme, other than I'm the king of the world, right. Is the, like, I'll never let go, Jack. And like, people make that joke all the time. They're like, I'll never let go. Right. It's like, we'd say it like all, all silly because then of course, like she lets go and Jack falls into the water and drowns cause he's dead.
Andrew: Right. So it's like this really silly, like I'll never let go. And then she lets go and people make fun of it constantly. But that line that I didn't know until I just watched it. Isn't about letting go of. It's about letting go of life. He says, don't let it go. He's hearkening back to like the railing where she's about to jump out and commit suicide in the beginning of the movie.
Andrew: And he's like, don't let go there at the end. She's like, I'll never let go. Like she's promising. Like I get it. I understand. What living is about. I'm never going to let go. And that's what she's saying there. And I was like, this is really meaningful. This is really poignant that I'll never let go, Jack.
Andrew: That's what it's about. It's not about him. And the fact that it's been MIMA fied into the like, joke about I'll never let go, Jack. And then he falls in the water is like, I think disappointing because of how actually deep that moment is.
Rob: Absolutely. Who's your most meaningful character? Who's not Jack around.
John: me, I would say I'm going to beat Andrew to the punch. I've thought about this and I've, I've changed my mind a few times, but I landed on Kathy Bates character as the unsinkable, Molly brown. And here's why she doesn't really show up that much. But when she does, she is the bridge between the two characters.
John: She's the one that really eggs her on to pursue Jack or to a welcome his pursuit. She's the one that encourages Jack to get into her Rose's life and her Aristotle. I think Molly brown for me watching it today, represents hope in the midst of tragedy. I think what we're dealing with globally with COVID is like the sinking of the Titanic in that across, no matter what class you want.
John: It impacts you and it's there and it's, it can either be a force that, that makes us all give up and sink or, or something says I'm going to push on. I'm going to do exactly what Jack told rose to do in, in never let go of your life. Never let go of hope. Never let go of the hope that that the future can be better than it is right now.
John: So to me, Molly brown was that character that represents never giving up.
Rob: John. That is an incredible answer. Uh, like standing ovation for that. She's also the person, right. Who's sitting in the lifeboat and here's all the screams around them. And it's like, we've got to go back and help them. And the guy's like, no, we can't go back.
Rob: And you see this real ethical dilemma of like, if we go back and all those drowning people, so many are going to climb up in the boat, they're going to sing to us. But she has that humanity and compassion who is just like, we can't leave these people behind. Yeah. And she articulates that moment so well, which is such a powerful.
Andrew: I feel like the, um, boat designer, the guy who like built the boat. Um, I forget what the character's name is. He was a great character. He's played by Victor Garber
Rob: guy from aliens. Right, right.
Andrew: The guy from alias, uh, Victor Garber, um, he just like pops up and stuff here and there. He's kind of a fun dude. Um, but his, his character, I kept feeling like weirdly pulled to, and then the seen where he died.
Andrew: I connected with it a lot, because a lot of people die in this movie. A lot of main characters die in this movie. And some of them you're like, yeah, I get it. Kill that guy. Um, and sometimes you're like, okay, Um,
Rob: who did you want to kill besides Billy Zane? Like, were you also like, oh, I guess there were, I guess that dude who wants them to like speed up.
Rob: Okay. We can speed up some of the
Andrew: he's weak. Um, but like Victor Garber his character, like he was so proud of the boat. And then when he like realizes that the boat is going to sink, like he knows it when they say like, this deck is underwater. We're all going to die. Like he knows his creation and sees the flaw without anyone having to diagnose it for him.
Andrew: Like someone says like, oh, like he deck is underwater. He's like, oh, the whole, like the boat is hasn't even tipped yet. And he knows everything that is going to happen. He just doesn't know what to do. And he freezes. And at the end, he just like is standing next to the fireplace as like the boat tips. And he just like accepts his own death because he cannot live with him.
Andrew: Failure as like a designer and he didn't drive the boat into the thing. He didn't like, he didn't do anything wrong, but like he takes on all that weight. I just, I just like, felt that. And then at the end, like he didn't know how to move on. There was no fight or flight. There was. Freeze. And he just watched everything that meant so much to him and his creation just collapsed around him and he couldn't like, he couldn't handle it.
Andrew: I feel like I've been in those positions before where like, I feel that way. I just like really connected with him and I was like, oh, I don't want to be like that. But I know I have been sometimes. And that's like, that was kind of a really good representation. I think of that feeling of when everything you've created goes sideways.
Andrew: Um, and, and sort of the sadness, the overwhelming sadness of that. Well, and
Rob: there is a lot of conversation in the movie, like about the hubris of like, this is the unsinkable ship, right? Like that's what it was billed as was literally like, this is the maiden voyage of the one ship that can never sink. And they were like, it was supposed to be celebrated.
Rob: And it was a Marvel feat of engineering, but like this own hubris, I mean, it's kind of like, We have tech billionaires today, we have Jeff Bezos and we have Elon Musk and that sort of stuff. It was like the, you know, early 20th century answer to that of like these sort of like we're marveling in our own tech, look what a beautiful thing we've created and not respecting like, Hey, there are laws of physics and other things that will get you if you're not careful
Andrew: with it.
Andrew: Right. And the fact that he like accepts that and doesn't like turn into a monster. Like, ah, that'll be fine, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Right? Like some of the characters will be like, seeing don't look up, right. They're like, oh, everything's good. Like that. He like accepted the tragedy. He knew that what was going to happen and like.
Andrew: Took on that weight, as opposed to trying to rush off the boat. He, he like did the right thing in his own sort of depression. There were like the honorable thing, I guess it was just a very interesting character, I think. So,
Rob: so mine is Jeanette Goldstein who. You may or may not know her, but she is the mom of the young kids.
Rob: She also kind of like famously dies in every James Cameron movie. She's like the awesome soldier and aliens most famously she's the mom of John Connor and Terminator to that scene where we're hand goes out and she stabbed him with the milk carton while he's still holding it while she's on the phone.
Rob: Like the foster mom. The foster mom and Terminator
Rob: else. Yeah. Yeah, not the mom. Sorry, the foster mom and Terminator two. And so that's her. Um, but she's incredible in this of just this little moment of like she's laying in bed with the two kids and just like, we're not going to make it. And I actually looked up some of the stats from the Titanic and this is really interesting.
Rob: Titanic song took him lives of 1,347. Only 103 women, 899 crew members, 685 of them died. And 53 children died, which is about half the number of children on. Um, and so the loss of lives was 1,517 lives in this story. And there's this moment where it's cutting to different people who like this old couple who's laying in bed together.
Rob: But when she's laying in bed with her kids, that's the like of all the scenes that got me emotional, whatever else. That's just the scene where it's like, what an unthinkable tragedy, what a horrific moment for a parent to have to live through that. And it's so powerful. Okay. So we're up to our final category now, which.
Rob: What is this movie trying to say, you may have already said it. We may have covered it earlier, but if you have like a final statement of like, this is what I think the movie is trying to say, what is that? Andrew, I'll let you go.
Andrew: So I'm going to go all in on this one. And this is why I think it's not a high budget hallmark movie.
Andrew: And it really is a serious movie about a serious tragedy, because I don't think it's necessarily about the tragedy, but it's using that setting and set piece to talk about. How important life is in the wake of this, of this coming disaster. And I think the reason that it uses a burgeoning love story to do that is because I think we are most connected to the possibility of what comes next.
Andrew: Or, um, untapped potential of not seeing things actually able to play out the fact that they set this love story of what could be these, these two people that are perfect together that bring out the best in one another. That could, and then don't, I think it sets up. Better tragedy. It's not just a Romeo and Juliet thing.
Andrew: It's not just about the love. It's about the importance of life and the importance of embracing life to the fullest, because you don't know what's going to happen next. Like Leo says, you don't know what hand you're going to get dealt next. And you've, you've, you've got to live every day to the full.
Andrew: Which is kind of a cliche message, right? Let's live everyday, like your last Carpe diem, but it does it in such a beautiful, meaningful way in which you're watching the whole movie through the lens of this is all about to end terribly. And so every time someone is enjoying their life or talking about how precious life is, you take that in and it really is meaningful.
Andrew: And so I think that. Possibility of new love that gets cut. So short is more, more tragic because of that. I think it's more than a love story. It's a, it's really a, like a, like a love song to life and the preciousness of life,
Rob: the song to life. I think that's true. I think that is what's meant missed about this movie.
Rob: Is there is that level of. Yep. What about you, John? What is this going to make
John: for this being the greatest hallmark movie of all time? And that is the, what do hallmark movies do? What do love stories? Do they tell you that? True love? Is it worth fighting for it's worth waiting for it's worth living for if you can find true love, it changes everything.
John: If you can find true love it, it is sort of reorient your whole life. So yes, Andrew, you find you find a new way of living, but it's in the context of true love, even in the very end of the story. With rose. We, we see how she looks back and she remembers this one true love. And I think she'd even been married in that kids and all that later, but she's hung onto the one true love.
John: And that's what great love stories do is they, they over-index on this idea of true love and how true love. Changes everything true. Love makes you come alive. True love crosses the barrier between classes. True love is worth fighting for if, even if you lose everything financially, like true love is the thing that wins.
John: So if, if a love, if hallmark equals love story, And if what makes a love story work is this idea of finding and holding onto and fighting for true love then true love is the meaning of this movie. 10 X exponential. That's what this thing is hallmark the greatest hallmark movie in the history of time.
Rob: hope hallmark channel does a 24 hour marathon of this movie.
Rob: Like after that plug John, that was incredible. Okay. So here's my thing. I opened with the question of like, is this a hallmark movie or is this a significant movie about a tragedy? And I want to cheat with my final answer and say, yes, it's. But the reason it has to be both is because I just read a bunch of numbers about how many people died on board, the Titanic and our brains.
Rob: Can't wrap our head around those numbers around what 1,317 men died. Like our brain can't wrap its head around those numbers. We need an avatar. To jump into this world and take us into it. And that's what Jack and rose do is like, Hey, I want to take you to the Titanic, but if I just make a documentary about it, even if I make a really compelling historical drama, you may care.
Rob: But if you actually get invest in one of these characters and care so much about them, Then you're going to feel the pain of all the drama. And so we need that love story to make us care about everything else that happens and make us able to follow it. And I think that's, what's so incredible about this story is ultimately, I think it's a narrative about a survivor.
Rob: I think about someone who survived nine 11, someone who survived a plane crash, someone who survived, you know, um, I, a guy that I know. An earthquake in Haiti and a hotel collapsed and he survived that. And I've, I've heard that story and people who survive these unthinkable tragedies, that's such a powerful thing to be like in the clenches of death and still find life.
Rob: And I think that's what it is. It's like, Hey, this is a story about the power of like fighting for life. Even when it seems like death is coming for you full.
John: Fighting for life when death is coming at you full steam. That's so good that, that, that could have been the, the tagline. I know that
Rob: they could it's, it's the marketing.
Rob: And I think that's, what's been lost to time. And why I want to do this podcast is because all we think about are the gifs and the memes, but it's like, no, there's actually so much more depth and something more interesting going on here. If you revisit this film and think about it. And I certainly had this experience, I, I watched this film and I was like, we have totally miserable.
Rob: What it actually is and what is about, and there's so much more depth in substance. There's a
Andrew: reason that it had the highest box office of all time for like 15 years. And it's, it's it's because it connected with everyone. Everyone wanted to see it, right. It was an, a, an emotionally compelling story for.
Andrew: Everybody. And so everyone to see it multiple times, like you don't get a movie with that, that kind of box office without connecting to a huge swath of the population,
Rob: it hit a nerve. I think it really resonated with people. And I hope I hope this podcast gives a few people an excuse to go revisit again and think about it in a more deep way.
Rob: If you have thoughts, you should come find our Facebook page and share your thoughts. There. Um, otherwise we will see you next time on the meaning of the movie, Sean and Andrew
Andrew: ketchup. Thank you very much. My
John: heart will go on.
Rob: All right. That's it. That's all we have subscribe rate review, and we will see you next time on the meaning of the movie.
Andrew: Very good.