Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron
Produced by: James Cameron, Jon Landau
Other cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton, Bernard Hill, Victor Garber and more
Release date: December 19, 1997
Running time: 195 minutes
Beginning with an undersea expedition in the 1990s, in which scuba divers are searching the sunken ship for lost relics, a painting of young Rose DeWitt Bukater is found. This triggers a flashback to the young woman's story as it happened on the doomed Titanic. Rose is a daughter of privilege on her way to be married to an arrogant but wealthy young man. Despairing, Rose finds herself falling in love with Jack Dawson, a carefree and poor young artist who is also aboard. When the great ship strikes an iceberg and begins to sink, Rose and Jack have only each other as their world falls apart around them.
James Cameron was biased against Winslet because she’d done three period pieces already. He wanted a girl with no such history. But after she read for him, he never thought about the matter again, and she proved his faith justified.
The film grossed more than $600 million at the domestic box office and more than $1.8 billion worldwide.
When Winslet had an attack of vertigo on the back of the unpended poop deck—spending a week in harness suspended 100 feet in the air—DiCaprio clamed her down. “I just told her we were safe”, he says. “She believed me”.
The studios wanted Matthew McConaughey, but Cameron insisted on Leonardo DiCaprio.
In the scene of Rose looking through the corridors for Jack, the water used was actually from the Pacific Ocean at the Baja California, Mexico set. The water was so cold that when Rose gasps when she first dives into the water, it was actually Kate Winslet’s genuine reaction to the frigid ocean.
Gloria Stuart, being only 86, was aged by makeup to play Rose at age 101. She did not find this a pleasant experience.
In the scene where Jack and Rose are walking the deck and talking, Rose calls herself a “poor little rich girl”. Gloria Stuart, who plays old Rose, was actually in the film Poor Little Rich Girl.
When Jack is preparing to draw Rose, he tells her to “Lie on that bed, uh I mean couch”. The line was scripted “Lie on that couch”, but DiCaprio made an honest mistake and James Cameron liked it so much he kept it in.
Kate Winslet tells Billy Zane, “I’d rather be his whore than your wife”. This line was delivered earlier by Peggy Lipton to Chris Mulkey in Twin Peaks – in which Zane co-starred.
Rose says “Jack” 80 times, not counting when she calls him “Mr. Dawson”, but counting both Winslet and Stuart. Jack says “Rose” 50 times.
Jack’s sketch of Rose wearing the necklace was drawn by James Cameron; it’s his hands we see drawing the picture. In post-production, Cameron, who is left-handed, mirror-imaged the sketching shots so the artist would be appear to be right-handed, like Leonardo DiCaprio. Cameron also drew all the other pictures in Jack’s sketchbook.
The scene in which Rose meets Jack to thank him for saving her life was improvised by the two actors at James Cameron’s request, and the spitting scene was almost all ad-lib. Cameron also credits Kate Winslet with writing the heart-wrenching “This is where we first met” line during the final sinking, as well as suggesting Rose spit in Cal’s face rather than (as scripted) jab him with a hairpin.
At $250 million, the movie cost more than the Titanic itself. The cost to construct the ship in 1910-1912 was £1.5 million, equivalent to $7.5 million at the time and about $120 to $150 million in 1997 dollars.
One of three films to win a total of 11 Academy Awards, the others being <i>Ben-Hur</i> and <i>The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King</i>.
Kate Winslet developed pneumonia while filming the water scenes.
After finding out that she had to be naked in front of DiCaprio, Kate Winslet decided to break the ice, and when they first met, she flashed him.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet committed to the film even before the script was written, on the basis only of a 165-page outline Cameron had written.
Christian Bale auditioned for the role of Jack Dawson, but was turned down because James Cameron didn’t want two British actors playing the lead roles of two Americans.
Macaulay Culkin was considered for the role of Jack Dawson.
Ranks first in the Academy Award Most Nominated Films List with 14 nominations, tying with the #1 <i>All About Eve</i>.
Rose only says “I love you” to Jack once while they are both shivering in the water. Jack never says it, although he mentions what he loves about her.
Kate Winslet was one of the few actors who didn’t want to wear a wetsuit during the water scenes.
The “sinking” coat was a size 8 while the rest of the gowns were a size 4. It was so large to make Rose seem more vulnerable in the sinking scenes.
The character of Rose is partially based on California artist Beatrice Wood, who died in 1998 at the age of 105.
Director James Cameron marveled that Kate Winslet sometimes cried for a solid hour after a big emotional scene.
Kate on the Movie:
“A brilliant, beautiful film that, when I saw it up there on-screen in all its glory, it was just such a relief and a joy, it blew me away; It’s so larger than life, I can’t believe it’s me up there. It’s like, I come from a small town outside of London, what am I doing in this film?”
“The thing that Leo and I knew was that we were going to have to fight to hold onto this very profound love that the two people, our characters, share. We had to fight for that because sometimes the scenes were just so huge, with so much action going on, so many stunts. We knew that the thing that would break people’s hearts was not the fact that so many people died on the ship that night, but the love story. And when I saw it at a screening, that last 20 minutes, I sat among men in business suits who were sobbing their hearts out like small children.”
“I closed the script, wept floods of tears and said, ‘I’ve absolutely got to be a part of this. No two ways about it’. I said to my agent, ‘Look, just get me Jim Cameron’s phone number’. He was on the freeway, and he said, ‘I’m going somewhere’. And I think he pulled over, and I said, ‘I just have to do this, and you are really mad if you don’t cast me’.”
On the scene in which Rose and Jack make love in a car: “Doing that scene, it so wasn’t us. And yet we were so locked into what all that had to be about. The Rose in me was really sort of loving the Jack in him, actually. And even though I didn’t feel that way about Leo, it was quite nice to sort of feel that way in the scene. It was quite lovely. And then, y’know, the camera stopped rolling, and he gets up and walks off, and the scene’s done. And I remember lying there thinking, ‘What a shame that’s over’. Because it was quite nice. It was.”
“Jim would yell sometimes, absolutely. He was the producer, screenwriter and director in this thing, with studio executives breathing down his neck all of the time. And I could understand him getting frustrated if something went wrong because some stunt guy didn’t jump at the right point and the shot’s taken nine hours to set up. But he was never mean to me.”
“There were moments of despair when I thought, ‘God, this is so tough, and I’m so tired’. And yes, the water was cold. But, y’know, I have to say, at the end of the day I wouldn’t have had that water heated. I said to Jim, ‘Please don’t make that tank hot, because then we can’t really know what it would have felt like’. I’m a bit of a masochistic. I never believe I’ve done my job properly unless I go home feeling that I’ve suffered.”
“Yes, I admit to sometimes peeing in that water. Because you wanted to get it right. You didn’t want to have to get out and go to the bathroom, which would take half an hour with corsets and dresses and all that sort of thing. So, yeah, I peed. I mean, it’s the same with a swimming pool—do you really think about what’s in it?”
“There were some instances where we were literally swimming through corridors. And I didn’t like that stuff because my feet would get tangled in the chiffon dress that I sink in. But at one point Jim said, ‘Fuck it, I’m not gonna have my actress drown. Scissors!’ And my dress was cut this short, almost like a t-shirt. You could see my bloomers underneath it. We called it the Bo Peep dress.”
I’m not saying it was all happy-clappy. There were days when you’d just think, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve got my period and I can’t get in that freezing-cold water today’. I remember standing up and saying to everyone, ‘Listen, if it suddenly looks like <i>Jaws</i>, the movie, it’s my fault’.”
“I was packing my stuff to go back to England, and there was a part of me that couldn’t believe it was all over of a sudden. And I thought, ‘I’m not going to be speaking Rose’s words anymore’. I had that moment of, ‘Oh, she’s gone now. I’ve lost her’.”
After watching it for the first time: “I wept flood buckets. Absolute buckets. It made it seem completely worth it. It’s fantastic thinking that I’ve been such a big part of it, and it’s probably going to go down in history. If anything, it almost frightens me.”
“I loved the love story side of it. There was something just so romantic and fairy-tale about it. I was a young girl. I loved the fact that the rich girl fell much more for the poor guy than the rich guy. There was a sense of justice about it that I really fell for. And just the kind of in-love-with-love thing. I found the character really fascinating and challenging in the sense that she was incredibly torn. She didn’t know exactly who she was.”
“I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go. I promise.”
[lowers the divider, whispers into Jack’s left ear] “To the stars.”
“I believe you are blushing, Mr. Big Artiste. I can’t imagine Monsieur Monet blushing.”
“Well, you’re being very rude. You shouldn’t be asking me this.”
“This is absurd. I don’t know you and you don’t know me and we are not having this conversation at all. You are rude and uncouth, and presumptuous, and I am”
“Wait, I don’t have to leave, this is my part of the ship. You leave.”
“What do you mean, “No, I won’t”? Don’t presume to tell me what I will and will not do, you don’t know me!”
“Oh mother, shut up! Don’t you understand? The water is freezing and there aren’t enough boats. Not enough by half. Half the people on this ship are going to die.”
“You jump, I jump, right?”