BEN DALTON has popcorn in his pants and he ain’t afraid to show it, show it, show it.
Last night, a problem with the projector threatened to reduce James Cameron’s re-rendering of his 1997 hit from exhilarating 3D to pure radio. Thankfully, a panicked popcorn-bearer had sounded the alarm within minutes, and we were back on track for what was, for me, the cinematic experience of the year.
Titanic has, admittedly, been done to death. There is no need for a synopsis here: however you experienced it for the first time, whether on Grandma’s television or in the ‘Leonardo’s Greatest Moments’ sticker collection, the chances are you’ll know all about Rose and that floating door.
But its cultural omnipresence has by no means added further cobwebs to Titanic’s sell-by-date, yet nor has it matured it like a fine wine. Titanic has instead settled into a space in between, ossifying over time into a pop stalwart: a cosy, comfortable ogle, the cinematic equivalent to Sunday evening’s Monarch of the Glen with a mug of PG Tips.
Some complain that the ending of Titanic is ‘predictable’, as if the audience shouldn’t know the ship sinks. Yet this is the beauty of the film. You buy your ticket knowing you’ll be taken from a lovingly frivolous Hollywood ‘A’, carefully guided through honey-glazed emotional wreckage, and then gently deposited, with the help of an exceedingly old woman and a well-lit flashback, in a soothing bath of cathartic ‘B’. And all this to Celine Dion’s rousing accompaniment.
The troweled-on sentimentality and quotable clichés turn the Titanic heartbreak experience into a gift-shop commodity that you can share with your nearest and dearest: give to your girlfriend as evidence of your ‘soft side’ or do your Year 6 class presentation on.
And now finally, this is all available with bells, whistles and cherries on top.
Looking through the audience, I saw a sea of goggles, packets of minstrels and coupled off pairs. The tangibly pre-coital audience sat bloated and content, visually chomping through their spoon-fed, maritime romance. Titanic 3D is pure visual gluttony.
With not a crackle or scratch to be seen on the original film reel, Cameron’s compositions are glossier than ever. Every shot reminds us of the film’s big-screen design, that it’s never more than half-mast on your 16-inch Panasonic.
The added clarity does show up some signs of age, including the clumsy, faceless CGI passengers in wide shots and the cameramen reflected in glass doors. Yet these do little to subtract from this genuine triumph of visual re-mastering.
Titanic is the perfect multiplex cinema experience. It’s the gonzo crunch of popcorn and the back row frencher. It’s the overpriced pick-‘n’-mix and the cardboard-cut-out in the foyer. So stop worrying about re-lining Cameron’s pockets and go grab some deliciously over-saturated, huge screen, too loud, popcorn-in-underpants cinema.