back when that other big james cameron movie came out

Someone joked that anything James Cameron touched, no matter how sucky, turned into gold. Having recently watched Avatar and having caught a few snatches of the Golden Globes, I can tell Cameron made another modern classic.

Meanwhile, seeing him grab another award, people can't seem to help remembering his 1997 opus, Titanic. It was the biggest movie of that year - maybe even of that decade - it had multiple wins from the award-giving bodies, including Oscars for best director, visual effects, cinematography, original song and costume design.

Photo from this site.

Has it really been that long ago? It doesn't seem like twelve years.

I remember being impressed by the movie teasers and trailers. But I thought that "Titanic" was a trite, outright dumb title for a movie, that it didn't get me interested in watching.

I remember that Kate Winslet was then a virtual nobody, and Leonardo DiCaprio was famous-mostly-among-teenage-girls. I wasn't too crazy about the pairing. I thought Kate was too chunky a mate for delicate-framed Leo. I found neither of them pleasant to watch; I thought Kate overplayed her role, while Leo acted just like his other characters in previous movies.

I remember hearing rumors that the Rose character was originally offered to Gwyneth Paltrow, but she refused it because she thought the nudity it called for would damage her career (but, but ... she gladly stripped later for other roles, right?)

I do remember being at awe at the breathtaking cinematography, the spectacular detail and the epic production.

The CGI was amazing. In that day, it looked pretty realistic that people remarked they could hardly tell the difference between "real" and "animated" (Of course watching it today and comparing it with today's animation reveals that it wasn't really that realistic).

I remember catching the making of Titanic on television, which made me appreciate the production even more. Every detail was meticulously intended to make it as historical as possible. I later concluded that everything in Titanic is true and accurate, except for Jack and Rose.

And then i remember wishing that it was an entirely true story.

I remember liking the movie but at the same time hating it for giving me that sinking (no pun intended) feeling.

I remember vainly hoping for a happy ending.

I remember my jaw dropping when I watched Grandma Rose chuck the priceless gemstone into the ocean.

I remember when that haunting theme song came out. Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On became an instant favorite among radio listeners. It was so overplayed - including its disco remix and the version with the Jack/Rose dialogue insertion - that I grew to abhor it.

I remember that our youth pastor took the pleasure of letting us hear the song backwards one Saturday so we could listen to the hidden message. There wasn't any Satanic worship in there, though we did hear words of misery and despair, pretty much echoing the general climate of the tragedy.

I remember how Titanic was shown in cinemas for ten weeks, because people kept watching it over and over. I remember how disgusted I was at the thought that it beat Star Wars in ticket sales.

I remember how it inspired fads and spoofs.

I remember how there was a whole wave of disaster movies at that time - two volcanoes, two asteroids and a range of monster animals.

I remember James Cameron's acceptance speech, in which he quoted Jack Dawson saying, "I'm the king of the world!" And for which he was criticized by those who didn't get it.

As the years rolled by, Titanic turned into a well-loved, must-own classic, the kind that is shown on television at least once every year and makes it to most ladies' "top ten chick flicks" list. I never thought this would happen, but there is a Titanic VD at home. It grew on me and I didn't find it such a long-a** cheese-and-corn-fest anymore.

I came to like Kate and Leo eventually too - not because their popularity skyrocketed after the movie, but because their acting skills were polished remarkably since they became in-demand A-listers. Kate lost weight and is actually more attractive now; she's a five-time Oscar nominee and won over Merryl Streep for best actress in 2009. Leo put on some meat and has worked on several big projects while pursuing that elusive Oscar win. They reunited in 2008's Revolutionary Road - which was nothing like Titanic but was prolly exciting for Kate-Leo fans.

As for James Cameron - well, he disappeared from the limelight for awhile, working on a few minor projects, then reemerged with another spectacular movie that he claims took him fifteen years in the making.

Due to the general heavy in it, Titanic is not the kind of movie I'd love to watch again and again, but I don't mind taking it in small servings. Several of its scenes - particularly the one of Jack and Rose flirting with each other on the bow of the ship, no matter how cheesy - are just golden. As much as I hate to praise it for beating Star Wars at the box office, Titanic is a '90s icon and is probably the romance movie of our generation.
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