I decided to crack open one of my books, “Titanic: Anatomy of a Blockbuster” this evening. I never read it. It’s written in several essays. It allowed me to remember what it feels like to learn something new about the movie again, and it was wonderful.
In the essay about the score, the writer mentions the twinkly piano motif that plays when Brock first sees the diamond on young Rose in the drawing. That motif also plays when old Rose picks up and remembers her mirror and her butterfly comb. This music represents one’s past and old self. It comes up when Jack is showing Rose his drawings on the deck. He turns to Madame Bijoux (who happens to look like a spitting image of Pawel’s mom) anyway…the way in which he describes her “she used to sit at this bar every night, wearing every piece of jewelry she owned, just waiting for her long lost love.” is supposed to signify what Rose would become had she never awakened.
I never really saw it that way.
In another essay about the sexuality of the movie DiCaprio’s body is compared to the rock hard-abbed bodies of the action movies in the 80’s and 90’s. Not once do you see Jack shirtless. You see his shoulder during the sex scene, but he’s never exposed. It is evident he is slender and boyish yet embodies the “earth man” full of physical nature compared to Cal. Rose is soft and fleshy, in comparison to the slim females in films for that time. We assume Cameron anticipated that audiences wanted a breath of fresh air— and we definitely did.
So Cal is very still, pensive, and when he actually is physical, he’s violent towards Rose. Jack is meant to be the “body” man, an uncommon commoner that can awaken Rose’s sexuality. During the dancing in steerage Rose cries out, “I don’t know the steps!” Jack replies, “Neither do I, just go with it, don’t think.” He also says earlier that evening, “You learn to take life as it comes at you, to make each day count.” And later in the film, Rose replies to his message “When the ship docks. I’m getting off with you.” he says, “This is crazy.” and to that she says, “I know, it doesn’t make any sense…that’s why I trust it.”
Additionally, it was somewhat interesting to read about the film’s appeal to teenagers other than Leo. All of the rebellious moments mentioned, and it hits me. Was Cameron on drugs when he wrote this screenplay? It is often remembered as a horrible script, yet somehow the story is larger than life- a drama we’ll never forget. This book only alludes to some of the cinematic brilliance encompassed in the themes, shots, characters, and actors. How did he capture so much in one film?
I’ve decided there will never be another Titanic. It’s not sad, it just is. Like lightning striking, this was my lightning and I was lucky enough to have it during my adolescence.
I think for me, one of the main reasons I fell in love with this movie so much had to do with awakening. One could say Rose was asleep. Numb. Don’t we know how that feels? Don’t we all feel trapped in our lives, as privileged as we are, it often feels so utterly painful to be us, to live our lives. Going through each moment like a zombie. Not really being present for any of it. One can only stay asleep for so long before they consider permanently going to sleep. What’s so captivating to me about this film is the story it tells about waking up, and living life again in the present moment. It’s clear to us all how much fun Rose was having in steerage. And when Jack extended her arms on the bow and told her to open her eyes, we can all only imagine what that must have felt like. An experience you’d never have otherwise, like sky diving, hurling you into the present, feeling absolutely alive in that moment. All of your senses sensitive and alert. The wind, the power of nature and God surrounding you. The view, the epic vast view of the horizon and endless sky reminding you what beauty there is on this earth. That the universe is bigger than us and our small problems. Jack’s hands touch her in a way we all dream of being touched. Once he culminated the moment in a passionate kiss, Rose’s fate was sealed. She was now addicted to living the rest of her life awake, and in the present moment. Her transformation complete. We greatly admire the woman she is in the rest of the movie. Fearless, authentic, cunning, bold, sassy, all of the adjectives we always want to be, she pulls every one of them off. Jack was a representation of living life in the present. His greatest gift to her was teaching her how to do that. We see photos of how Rose lived her life at the end of the movie. She looks as though she took chances and took life as it came. She followed her heart and had adventures. Things you could only do in the present. Isn’t that what I’m really striving for? On the outside I have these artificial wishes and aspirations. Write a successful screenplay, write a book, own a company, become someone, amount to something. On the inside I now see I am merely looking for that feeling of a life fully lived. A life spent awake. A life making each day count.
I think one of the reason’s I love Jack so much and maybe even see this movie tied with spirituality was his gift to Rose of teaching her to live life in the present. Essentially a god-like spirit. The funny thing is, you have it in you to be present already. As did Rose. Jack reminded Rose, and I believe Titanic reminded me.
I choose to sleep most of the time. How was I was happy and present and connected to the universe at age 14? Was it really my fulfillment with Titanic? Perhaps some of it, but I think that this movie indirectly made me want to live life like Rose. Before I knew it was called “being present” I would call it “making each day (or moment) count.” I could easily recognize the beauty in living life like Jack and Rose Dawson. And so I emulated that. I remember doing my best to embody her, what would she do? what did that look like? how would she act? I think it forced me to enter each moment through these special glasses. I wasn’t always Rose Dawson. Often times I indulged in my family drama and took on DeWitt Bukater. It was easy and I admired her in all shapes and forms, but I think I relished in Dawson. I knew that was what I needed to strive towards. I remember feeling as free as her. Creating the moments in my life for myself, which I can literally do now. I felt everything. A sure sign of living in the present. I handled it though.
Remember when I realized that Charles didn’t have a rose for me? I went to the bathroom and cried, and then had to call my mom on a pay phone to pick me up because I had missed the bus. It was incredibly dramatic. The asleep me would have numbed the feelings out, told myself they were not “good” feelings, that I could just eat away as soon as I got home. But maybe it’s good to feel that much. I’m concerned it exhausted me (why I stopped), or a few key lows caused me to never want to feel again. But when you live your life as though it’s a movie, even the lows are so beautiful. Most of my favorite moments from movies are the upsets, because it is so wonderful relating to the main character and you know deep down that feeling that bad means you’re alive.
So there it is. Even when you feel as low as you’ve ever felt, indulge in it, because you’ll know you’re more alive than ever.