Monday, 25 January 2010

The movie with everything

Can you believe that it was over six years ago when Jonathan Ross suggested to viewers of his Film 2003 programme that they vote Cameron's Titanic the "worst film ever"?

At the time I was heftily cheesed off. Why? Was I personally involved in the making of this epic? Had James Cameron asked me to invest a couple of hundred quid in it? (No, but I wish he had!)

The fact is that I was impressed with the film and I still am, although back in 2003 I had no idea why. It is thanks to this degree course, which is allowing me to discover the inner secrets of film/movie making, that I now know what it was that makes that film so special.

Quite simply, it has everything that we, as an audience, need in a story: suffering, tragedy of character and reversal of fortune – and all wrapped-up in a complex story surrounding the sinking of the ship, which is where the spectacle aspect comes in with its sets, the stunning visual elements, costumes, special effects and music. It is primal: there's sex as well as the need to survive, and you can't get more primal than that. There is just so much going on in the story... so which is the main story – the love story or the sinking? Does it matter? It works! and millions went to see it at the cinema and millions bought their own copies on VHS and, like me and others I know (we're not related, just in case you were wondering), they have since upgraded to DVD.

What I want to know is, why did so many "viewers" of Film 2003 indulge Ross' whim and effectively admit they had made a mistake by liking the film so much before they had matured? Did the Brits dislike it so much because it was so successful? Perhaps that one is wearing a bit thin, but there's still plenty of mileage in the claim of a negativity epidemic. Could it have been a predominantly male vote? I mean, I would imagine that most men (and particularly those who would count Ross as one of their drinking partners, given half the chance) would consider Titanic to be a soppy love story.

Whatever the reason for the poll's result, theoretically it doesn't stick and, in his more sensible moments – that is, when not pandering to the fickle whims of the youthful audience he craves – even Jonathan Ross must admit that it was an ill-considered nudging of a public vote.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, why is it that we feel the need to cover up our enjoyment of things because we feel that people will look down on us for enjoying them? Certain books and movies are bought in their millions because they satify our cravings for the crucial story elements you mention. Take Stephenie Meyer for instance, author of the Twilight series - just because she's not literary doesn't mean she can't write a good tale. And the millions of females out there who've bought and raced through these books - both adults and teens - are surely testament to that.