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Titanic is a 1997 Americanmarker romantic drama film directed, written, co-produced and co-edited by James Cameron about the sinking of the RMS Titanicmarker. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, two members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ill-fated maiden voyage of the ship. The main characters and the central love story are fictional, but some characters (such as members of the ship's passengers and crew) are based on historical figures. Gloria Stuart plays the elderly Rose, who narrates the film in a modern day framing device.

Production of the film began in 1995, when Cameron shot footage of the real wreck of the RMS Titanic. He envisioned the love story as a means to engage the audience with the real-life tragedy. Shooting took place on board the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh - which aided Cameron in filming the real wreck – for the modern scenes, and a reconstruction of the ship was built at Playas de Rosarito, Baja Californiamarker. Cameron also used scale models and computer-generated imagery to recreate the sinking. Titanic became at the time the most expensive film ever made, costing approximately US$200 million with funding from Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox.

The film was originally to be released on July 2, 1997, but post-production delays pushed back the film's release to December 19, 1997. The film turned out to be an enormous critical and commercial success, winning eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It became the highest-grossing film of all time, with a worldwide total of over $1.8 billion (it is the sixth-highest grossing in North America once adjusted for inflation).


In 1996, treasure hunter Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and his team explore the wreck of the RMS Titanicmarker, searching for a necklace set with a valuable blue diamond called the Heart of the Ocean. They believe the diamond to be in Caledon "Cal" Hockley's safe, which they recover easily. However, when searching the safe they do not find the diamond, but a sketch of a nude woman wearing the famed diamond. The drawing is dated April 14, 1912, the night the Titanic hit the iceberg. One-hundred-year-old Rose Dawson Calvert (Gloria Stuart) learns of the drawing, and contacts Lovett to inform him that she is the woman in the drawing. She and her granddaughter Elizabeth "Lizzy" Calvert (Suzy Amis) visit Lovett and his skeptical team on his salvage ship. When asked if she knew the whereabouts of the necklace, Rose recalls her memories aboard the Titanic, revealing for the first time that she is actually Rose DeWitt Bukater, a passenger believed to have died in the sinking.

In 1912, the upper class 17-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) boards the ship in Southamptonmarker, Englandmarker with her fiancé Caledon "Cal" Hockley (Billy Zane), the son of a Pittsburghmarker steel tycoon, and her mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater (Frances Fisher). Both Cal and Ruth stress the importance of Rose's engagement to Cal, since the marriage will mean the eradication of the Dewitt-Bukater debts; while they have the outward appearance of being upper-class, Rose and her mother are experiencing severe financial troubles. Distraught and frustrated by her engagement to the controlling Cal and the pressure her mother is putting on her to go through with the marriage, Rose attempts suicide by jumping from the stern. Before she leaps, a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) intervenes. Initially, Cal, his friends, and the sailors, overhearing Rose's screams, believe Jack attempted to rape her. She explains Jack saved her life, hiding her suicide attempt by explaining she slipped after trying to see the propellers. Jack supports the claim, although Hockley's manservant, former Pinkerton agent Spicer Lovejoy (David Warner), is unconvinced. Jack and Rose strike up a tentative friendship as she thanks him for his corroboration, and he shares stories of his adventures traveling and sketching. Their bond deepens when they leave a stuffy first-class formal dinner of the rapport-building wealthy for a much livelier gathering of Irish dance, music (provided by Gaelic Storm) and ale in third-class.

Cal is informed by Lovejoy of Rose's partying in steerage and, during breakfast the following morning, flips the table in rage as he angrily forbids her to meet Jack again. However, after witnessing a woman encouraging her seven-year-old daughter to behave like a "proper lady" at tea, Rose defies him and her mother and meets Jack at the bow of the ship. It is there where they go up onto the rail and Rose finally learns to let go and open herself up to Jack, sharing a passionate kiss. The couple go to Rose's stateroom where she asks Jack to sketch her nude and wearing only the Heart of the Ocean, an engagement present from Cal. Afterwards, the two playfully run away from Lovejoy, going below deck, into the boiler room, and into the ship's cargo hold. They enter William Carter's Renault and proceed to make love in the backseat, before moving to the ship's forward well deck. Rose decides when they arrive in New Yorkmarker, she will leave the ship with Jack. They then witness the ship's fatal collision with an iceberg. After overhearing the ship's lookouts discussing how serious the collision is, Rose tells Jack they should warn her mother and Cal. Meanwhile, Cal discovers Rose's nude drawing and her taunting note in his safe, so he frames Jack for stealing the Heart of the Ocean by having Lovejoy plant it in Jack's pocket. Jack is arrested and taken down to the Master-at-arms's office. Cal slaps Rose across the face due to his anger. Rose runs away from him (spitting in his face as Jack taught her to earlier) and her mother (who is in a lifeboat) to rescue Jack from imprisonment. With his "cell" being at the bottom of the ship and the ship sinking, the office slowly begins to flood. Rose eventually gets to him and frees him with an axe.

Jack and Rose return to the top deck. Cal and Jack, though enemies, both want Rose safe, so they persuade her to board a lifeboat by Cal telling her that he had an arrangement with a man working the boats, and that he and Jack would get off safely. After Rose is on the boat and out of earshot, Cal admits that there was an arrangement, but he would not use it to help Jack. After realizing that she cannot leave Jack, Rose jumps back on the ship and reunites with him in the ship's first-class staircase. Infuriated, Cal takes Lovejoy's pistol and chases Jack and Rose down the decks and into the flooded first-class dining saloon. When Cal runs out of ammunition, he sarcastically wishes them well in their last moments and then realizes he left the Heart of the Ocean in Rose's overcoat. Cal abandons Lovejoy and returns to the boat deck, where he boards Collapsible A by pretending to look after an abandoned child, as the officer he had previously bribed into letting him onto a lifeboat throws the money in his face, telling him his money can't save him anymore. Lovejoy dies during the sinking when the ship splits in two. When Jack and Rose return to the top deck, the lifeboats have gone and they take temporary refuge on the now vertical stern, which washes them into the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Jack and Rose manage to grab hold of a carved oak door, which can only support one person. Jack suffers from severe hypothermia, and dies in Rose's arms.

Rose is rescued when a lifeboat returns, and is taken by the RMS Carpathia to New York, where she gives her name as Rose Dawson (adopting Jack's surname, leading everyone to believe Rose DeWitt Bukater died on the Titanic). She also sees Cal for the last time on Carpathia's deck, looking for her.

Having completed her story, the elderly Rose goes to the stern of Lovett's ship. After she steps onto the railing, it is revealed she still has the Heart of the Ocean in her possession. She drops the diamond into the water, sending it to join the remains of the most important event of her life. The film ends with a shot of Rose in bed. Around her are pictures of her doing everything she said she would do with Jack throughout her life. The final shot of the film is where the young Rose is reunited with Jack at the Grand Staircase of the Titanic, surrounded and applauded by those who perished on the ship, as they kiss passionately; it is deliberately unclear if this is a conscious dream, or if Rose has passed away in her sleep.


Fictional characters

  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson: One of the film's protagonists, Jack is a penniless Wisconsinmarker man who has toured parts of the world, primarily Parismarker. At the start of the film, he wins two tickets onto the RMS Titanic in a poker game and travels as a third-class passenger with his friend, Fabrizio. He is attracted to Rose's beauty at first sight and incidentally talks to her when Rose attempts to throw herself off the back of the ship. This heroic act enables him to mix with the first-class passengers for a night. Billy Crudup and Stephen Dorff were considered for the role of Jack.
  • Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater: Rose is the film's other protagonist. She is a seventeen-year-old woman, originally from Philadelphiamarker, who is forced into an engagement to Caledon Hockley so she and her mother, Ruth, can maintain their high-class status following her father's death, whose debts left them a "reputated" empty shell. Along with Cal and Ruth, Rose boards the RMS Titanic as a first-class passenger, where she meets Jack, a third-class passenger.
  • Billy Zane as Caledon Nathan "Cal" Hockley: The film's primary antagonist, Cal is Rose's fiancé and the quintessential arrogant and snobbish first-class gentleman. Cal is the heir to an enormous steel fortune in his native Pittsburghmarker. He becomes increasingly embarrassed, jealous, and cruel over Rose's relationship with Jack. He gives Rose the famous "Heart of the Ocean" diamond necklace as a token of his feelings for her, and then asks her to "open her heart to him". He is among survivors in a lifeboat after pretending to have a child. The elderly Rose reveals that Cal committed suicide after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
  • Frances Fisher as Ruth DeWitt Bukater: Rose's widowed mother, who arranges her daughter's engagement to Cal to maintain her family's high-class status. She loves her daughter but believes that social position is more important than love. The epitome of the shallowness and hypocrisies of high-class society, she scorns Jack, even though he saved her daughter's life. She survives the sinking.
  • Danny Nucci as Fabrizio De Rossi: Jack's Italian best friend, who comes aboard the RMS Titanic with him after Jack wins two tickets in a poker game. Fabrizio is killed during the sinking of the Titanic after one of the funnels of the ships collapses and crushes him.
  • Jason Barry as Thomas "Tommy" Ryan: An Irish third-class passenger who befriends Jack and Fabrizio. He makes a comment to Jack about the faint chance he has of getting next to Rose. Tommy is shot dead by First Officer Murdoch during the ship's sinking, after he is shoved during the chaos on deck.
  • David Warner as Spicer Lovejoy: An ex-Pinkerton constable, Lovejoy is Cal's English valet and bodyguard, who keeps an eye on Rose and is suspicious regarding the circumstances surrounding Jack's rescue of her. According to Rose, Lovejoy was hired by Cal's father to "keep an eye on his little boy". He accompanies Cal, Rose, and Ruth on the RMS Titanic and tells the porters where to put their luggage. He dies during the sinking and is last seen clinging onto the deck rail for dear life as the ship splits apart beneath him.
  • Bill Paxton as Brock Lovett: A treasure hunter looking for the "Heart of the Ocean" in the wreck of the RMS Titanic in the present. Time and funding to his expedition are running out.
  • Gloria Stuart as Rose Dawson Calvert: The 100-year-old Rose comes to give Lovett information regarding the "Heart of the Ocean", after he discovers a nude drawing of her in the wreck of the RMS Titanic. She narrates the story of her time aboard the ship, mentioning Jack for the first time since. The final scene in the movie (where she reunites with Jack and all the people lost on the Titanic) is ambiguous – some believe her to be merely asleep (remembering her time with Jack) while others believe she died happily in her bed as Jack wished for her during the ship's sinking. Stuart herself believes her character died, whereas in his DVD audio commentary Cameron says that he prefers to leave the viewer to interpret the shot.
  • Suzy Amis as Lizzy Calvert: Rose's granddaughter, who cares for her, and accompanies her when she visits Lovett on the ship.
  • Lewis Abernathy as Lewis Bodine: Lovett's friend, who initially expresses doubt about whether the elderly Rose is telling the truth. He also demonstrates to Rose, with little regard for sensitivity, how the RMS Titanic sank with a 3-D computer simulation. When Rose's story concludes, he appears slightly more sympathetic.

Historical characters

  • Kathy Bates as Margaret "Molly" Brown: Brown is depicted as being frowned upon by other first-class women, including Ruth, as "vulgar" and "new money" due to her sudden wealth. She is friendly to Jack and lends him a tuxedo (bought for her son) when he is invited to dinner in the first-class dining saloon. She leaves the sinking ship with Ruth, aboard Lifeboat 6. She survives the sinking, scorning the other passengers of her lifeboat for not rescuing others, and is seen in a shot of the boat of survivors after Rose is rescued. Although Brown is a historical person, Cameron chose to not portray her real-life actions. Molly Brown was dubbed "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" by historians because she took over the life boat and went to pick up survivors. In Cameron's film version, she attempts to round the women up to go back but she does not succeed.
  • Victor Garber as Thomas Andrews: The ship's builder, Andrews is portrayed as a very kind and pleasant man who is modest about his grand achievement. After the collision, he tries to convince the others, particularly Ismay, that it is a "mathematical certainty" that the ship, being made of iron, will sink. He is depicted during the sinking of the ship as standing next to the clock in the first-class smoking room, lamenting his failure to build a strong and safe ship. He gives Rose a life jacket so she does not drown in the icy water, and is last seen looking at his watch and adjusting the clock in the same room as glasses slide from the mantel. He is most likely killed when the smoking room splits in two, however, in reality, it is unknown exactly how he died.
  • Bernard Hill as Captain Edward John Smith: Smith had planned to make the Titanic voyage his final one before retiring. This later influenced his decision to increase the ship's speed to make headlines (Whether this increase in speed actually happened is hotly contested; see RMS Titanicmarker). The film depicts him retiring to his quarters before the ship hits the iceberg. He retreats into the bridge as the ship sinks, dying when the icy water bursts through the windows whilst clinging to the ship's wheel. It is often disputed whether he died this way or later froze to death, as he was reported seen near the overturned Collapsible B.
  • Jonathan Hyde as Joseph Bruce Ismay: Ismay is portrayed as an ignorant first-class rich man who does not even know who Sigmund Freud is. He uses his position as White Star Line managing director to influence Captain Smith to go faster with the prospect of an earlier arrival in New York and favorable press attention. After the collision, he struggles to comprehend that his "unsinkable" ship is doomed. The film features him taking the opportunity to get into a lifeboat as the ship sinks, and later features him turning his back on the sinking ship, unable to watch his creation sink beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Eric Braeden as Colonel John Jacob Astor IV: A first-class passenger whom Rose calls the richest man on the ship. The film depicts Astor and his 18-year-old wife Madeleine as being introduced to Jack by Rose in the first-class dining saloon. He is presumably drowned when the Grand Staircase glass dome implodes and water surges in. In reality, Astor died after being crushed when one of the ship's funnels collapsed and Madeleine survived in one of the last boats to leave the Titanic, but her survival is not shown on camera. Braeden was chosen for the role because of his physical resemblance to the real John Jacob Astor IV.
  • Bernard Fox as Colonel Archibald Gracie IV: The film depicts Gracie making a comment to Cal that "women and machinery don't mix", and congratulating Jack for saving Rose from falling off the ship (he is unaware it was a suicide attempt). It is not mentioned whether he survives or dies, but the actual Archibald Gracie survived the sinking on the overturned Collapsible B.
  • Michael Ensign as Benjamin Guggenheim: A mining magnate traveling in first-class. He openly shows off his French mistress Madame Aubart to his fellow passengers while his family waits for him back home. When Jack joins the other first-class passengers for dinner after his rescue of Rose, Guggenheim refers to him as a "bohemian". Before his death, he utters the famous words, "We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down as gentlemen", before asking for a final glass of brandy. He is last seen sitting on a chair with his glass of brandy at the base of the Grand Staircase while a huge wave bursts into the room through the A-deck cabins.
  • Jonathan Evans-Jones as Wallace Hartley: The ship's bandmaster, who plays uplifting music with his colleagues on the boat deck as the ship sinks, culminating in a final, emotional performance of Nearer, My God, to Thee. However, it has been disputed for many years whether it was this or a waltz tune named Autumn that was played last. His final words are "Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight."
  • Ewan Stewart as First Officer William Murdoch: The film's most controversial depiction . During a sudden rush for the lifeboats, Murdoch's gun discharges and kills Tommy Ryan as well as another passenger. Murdoch then commits suicide out of guilt. When Murdoch's nephew Scott saw the film, he objected to his uncle's portrayal as damaging to Murdoch's heroic reputation, considering that he did try to get a number of passengers off. A few months later, Fox vice-president Scott Neeson went to Dalbeattiemarker, Scotlandmarker, where Murdoch lived, to deliver a personal apology, and also presented a £5000 donation to Dalbeattie High School to boost the school's William Murdoch Memorial Prize. Cameron apologized on the DVD commentary, but noted that there were officers who fired gunshots to follow the "women and children first" policy.
  • Jonathan Phillips as Second Officer Charles Lightoller: The ship's most senior surviving officer of the sinking. The film depicts Lightoller telling Captain Smith that it would be difficult to see the icebergs with no breaking water. He is seen brandishing a gun and threatening to use it to keep order. He can be seen on top of Collapsible B when the first funnel falls.
  • Mark Lindsay Chapman as Chief Officer Henry Wilde: The ship's chief officer, who lets Cal on board a lifeboat because he had a child in his arms. Before he dies, he tries to get the boats to row back to the sinking site and rescue passengers by blowing on his whistle. After he freezes to death, Rose uses his whistle to attract the attention of Fifth Officer Lowe, which eventually leads to her being rescued. Although in the film he is shown to succumb to hypothermia, it is unknown how the real Henry Wilde died.
  • Ioan Gruffudd as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe: The only ship's officer who led a lifeboat to retrieve survivors of the sinking on the icy waters. The film depicts Lowe rescuing Rose from freezing to death.
  • Edward Fletcher as Sixth Officer James Moody: The ship's only junior officer who died in the sinking. The film depicts Moody admitting Jack and Fabrizio onto the ship only moments before it departs from Southampton, follows Mr. Murdoch's orders putting the ship in full speed ahead, and informs First Officer Murdoch about the iceberg.
  • James Lancaster as Father Thomas Byles: Father Byles, a Catholic priest from England, is portrayed praying and consoling passengers during the ship's final moments. He is last seen consoling passengers when the aft section of the ship is going vertical. He probably falls to his death in the icy waters. Though not shown, he is credited for helping Molly Brown get others into the lifeboats.
  • Lew Palter and Elsa Raven as Isidor Straus and Ida Straus: Isidor is a former owner of R.H. Macy and Company, a former Congressman from New York, and a member of the New York and New Jersey Bridge Commission. During the sinking, his wife Ida is offered a place in a lifeboat, but she refuses, saying that she will honour her wedding pledge by staying with Isidor wherever he went. The two are last seen lying on their bed, embracing each other, as the frigid water begins to fill their stateroom.
  • Martin Jarvis as Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon: A Scottish baronet who is rescued in Lifeboat 1. He refuses to return to save those in the water, at the urging of his wife believing that those in the water are inferior.
  • Rosalind Ayres as Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon: A world-famous fashion designer and Sir Cosmo's wife. She is rescued in Lifeboat 1 with her husband and forbids him to return to the wreck site incase they are swamped by the drowing third class.
  • Rochelle Rose as Noel Leslie, Countess of Rothes: The Countess is shown to be friendly with Cal and the DeWitt Bukaters, even though she is of a higher status in society than Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon she is kind and helps row the boats and even looks after the steerage (3rd Class).
  • Scott G. Anderson as Frederick Fleet: The lookout who saw the Iceberg. Fleet escapes the sinking ship aboard Lifeboat 6.
  • Martin East as Reginald Lee: The other lookout in the Crow's nest. He too survives the sinking.
  • Simon Crane as Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall: The officer in charge of firing flares and manning Lifeboat 2 during the sinking. He is shown on the bridge wings helping the seamen firing the flares. His only line in the film is, while the ship is rising out of the water and he is in the lifeboat: "Bloody pull faster, and pull!"
  • Gregory Cooke as Jack Phillips: Senior wireless operator on board the Titanic that Captain Smith ordered to send out the distress signal.
  • Liam Tuohy as Chief Baker Charles Joughin: The baker appears in the film on top of the railing with Jack and Rose as the ship went down for the final plunge. According to the real Joughin's testimony he rode the ship down and stepped into the water without getting his hair wet, most likely thanks to alcohol.
  • Terry Forrestal as Chief Engineer Joseph G. Bell: Bell and his men worked til the last minute to keep the lights on the ship and power for distress signals to get out. Bell and all of the engineers died trapped in the bowels of the Titanic. Their bodies were never recovered. The film features an unnamed engineer standing near Bell who dies by being electrocuted when a machine discharges its energy when the engineer, and a circut breaker he is manning, is hit with seawater from a bursting pipe: the engineer's electrocution is shown to cause a power surge causing the whole ship's lights to flicker and ultimately cease seconds before the ship breaks in two.


Several crew members of the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh appear in the film, including Anatoly Sagalevich, creator and pilot of the Mir submersibles. Anders Falk, who filmed a documentary about the film's sets for the Titanic Historical Society, cameoed in the film as a Swedish immigrant who Jack Dawson meets when he enters his cabin, and Ed and Karen Kamuda, then President and Vice President of the Society, were extras on the film.


"The story could not have been written better...The juxtaposition of rich and poor, the gender roles played out unto death (women first), the stoicism and nobility of a bygone age, the magnificence of the great ship matched in scale only by the folly of the men who drove her hell-bent through the darkness. And above all the lesson: that life is uncertain, the future unknowable . . . the unthinkable possible."
— James Cameron
James Cameron was fascinated by shipwrecks, especially the RMS Titanicmarker, and wrote a treatment for the film. In an interview, he stated that he made Titanic "because [he] wanted to dive to the shipwreck, not because [he] particularly wanted to make the movie". He said that the Titanic was "the Mount Everestmarker of shipwrecks" and he, as a diver, wanted to tell the story right. "When I learned some other guys had dived to the Titanic to make an IMAX movie, I said, 'I’ll make a Hollywood movie to pay for an expedition and do the same thing.' I loved that first taste, and I wanted more," stated Cameron. "Titanic was about 'fuck you' money. It came along at a point in my life when I said, 'I can make movies until I’m 80, but I can’t do expedition stuff when I’m 80.'" Cameron's father had been an engineer. "I had studied to be an engineer and had a mental restlessness to live the life I had turned my back on when I switched from the sciences to the arts in college," said Cameron.

He described the sinking of the Titanic as "like a great novel that really happened". Yet, over time he felt that the event had become a mere morality tale, and described making the film as putting the audience in an experience of living history. Cameron described a love story as the most engaging part of a story. As the likable Jack and Rose had their love blossom and eventually destroyed, the audience would mourn the loss. Lastly, Cameron created a modern framing of the romance with an elderly Rose, making the history palpable and poignant. The treasure hunter Brock Lovett is meant to represent those who never connected with the human element of the tragedy. Cameron wanted to honor the people who died during the sinking, and he spent six months fully researching what happened, creating a timeline of all the Titanic's crew and passengers.

He met with 20th Century Fox, and convinced them to make a film based on the publicity afforded by shooting the wreck itself and organized a dive to the wreck of the Titanic over two years. The crew shot in the Atlantic Oceanmarker twelve times in 1995, shooting during eleven of those occasions, and actually spent more time with the ship than its passengers. Afterwards, Cameron began writing a screenplay. Harland and Wolffmarker, the RMS Titanic's builders, opened their private archives to the crew, sharing blueprints that were thought lost. For the ship's interiors, production designer Peter Lamont's team looked for artifacts from the era, though the newness of the ship meant every prop had to be made from scratch. Fox acquired of waterfront south of Playas de Rosaritomarker in Mexicomarker, and began building a new studio on May 31, 1996. A seventeen-million-gallon tank was built for the exterior of the reconstructed ship, providing 270 degrees of ocean view. The ship was built to full scale, but Lamont removed redundant sections on the superstructure and forward well deck for the ship to fit in the tank, with the remaining sections filled with digital models. The lifeboats and funnels were shrunk by ten percent. The boat deck and A-deck were working sets, but the rest of the ship was just steel plating. Within was a fifty-foot lifting platform for the ship to tilt during the sinking sequences. Towering above was a tall tower crane on of railtrack, acting as a combined construction, lighting, and camera platform. After shooting the sinking scenes, the ship was then dismantled and sold for scrap metal to cover budgetary costs.


The modern day scenes were shot on the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh in July 1996. It was during this shoot that someone sprinkled phencyclidine (PCP) into the crew's dinner, affecting many including Cameron, and sending several dozen of them to the hospital. The person behind the prank was never caught. Principal photography for Titanic began in September 1996 at the newly-built Fox Baja Studios. The scenes on the poop deck were built on a hinge which could rise from zero to ninety degrees in a few seconds as the ship's stern rose during sinking. For the safety of the stuntmen, many props were made of foam rubber. By November 15, they were shooting the boarding scenes. Cameron chose to build his RMS Titanic on the starboard side as a study of weather data showed prevailing north-to-south wind that blew the funnel smoke aft. This posed a problem for shooting the ship's departure from Southamptonmarker, as it was docked on its port side. Writing on props and costumes had to be reversed, and if someone walked to their right in the script, they had to walk left. In post-production, the film was flipped to the correct direction.

Filming Titanic was an arduous experience for all involved. The schedule was intended to last 138 days but grew to 160. Many cast members came down with colds, flu, or kidney infections after spending hours in cold water, including Kate Winslet. Several left and three stuntmen broke their bones, but the Screen Actors Guild decided, following an investigation, that nothing was inherently unsafe about the set. Cameron never apologized for running his sets like a military campaign, although he admitted:
"I'm demanding, and I'm demanding on my crew.
In terms of being kind of militaresque, I think there's an element of that in dealing with thousands of extras and big logistics and keeping people safe.
I think you have to have a fairly strict methodology in dealing with a large number of people."
After almost drowning, chipping an elbow bone, and getting the flu, Winslet decided she would not work with Cameron again unless she earned "a lot of money".


An enclosed tank was used for sinking interiors, in which the entire set could be tilted into the water. To sink the Grand Staircase, of water were dumped into the set as it was lowered into the tank. Unexpectedly, the waterfall ripped the staircase from its steel-reinforced foundations, though no one was hurt. The long exterior of the RMS Titanic had its first half lowered into the tank, but being the heaviest part of the ship meant it acted as a shock absorber against the water. To get the set into the water, Cameron had much of the set emptied and even smashed some of the promenade windows himself. After submerging the Dining Saloon, three days were spent shooting Lovett's ROV traversing the wreck in the present. The post-sinking scenes in the freezing Atlantic were shot in a tank, where the frozen corpses were created by applying a powder on actors that crystallized when exposed to water, and wax was coated on hair and clothes.

Cameron wanted to push the boundary of special effects with his film, and enlisted Digital Domain to continue the breakthroughs on digital technology the director pioneered on The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Previous films about the RMS Titanic shot water in slow motion, which did not look wholly convincing. He encouraged them to shoot their long miniature of the ship as if "we're making a commercial for the White Star Line". Afterward, digital water and smoke were added, as were extras captured on a motion capture stage. Visual effects supervisor Rob Legato scanned the faces of many actors, including himself and his children, for the digital extras and stuntmen. There was also a long model of the ship's stern that could break in two repeatedly, the only miniature to be used in water. For scenes set in the ship's engines, footage of the SS Jeremiah O'Brien's engines were composited with miniature support frames and actors shot against greenscreen. To save money, the First Class Lounge was a miniature set incorporated into a greenscreen backdrop.


During the first assembly cut, Cameron altered the planned ending, which had given resolution to Brock Lovett's story. In the original version of the ending, Brock and Lizzy see Old Rose at the stern of the boat, and fear she is going to jump. Rose then reveals that she had the Heart of the Ocean diamond all along, but never sold it, as it reminded her of Cal too much. She tells Brock that life is priceless and throws the diamond into the ocean, after allowing him to hold it. Accepting that treasure is worthless, Brock laughs at his stupidity. Rose goes back to sleep, whereupon the film ends in the same way as the final version. In the editing room, Cameron decided that by this point the audience would no longer be interested in Brock Lovett and cut the resolution to his story, so that Rose is alone when she drops the diamond. He also did not want to disrupt the audience's melancholy after the Titanic's sinking.

The version used for the first test screening featured a fight between Jack and Lovejoy which took place after Jack and Rose escape into the flooded dining saloon, but the test audiences disliked it. The scene was written to give the film more suspense, and featured Cal (falsely) offering to give Lovejoy, his valet, the Heart of the Ocean if he can get it from Jack and Rose. Lovejoy goes after the pair in the sinking First Class dining room. Just as they are about to escape him, Lovejoy notices Rose's hand slap the water as it slips off the table behind which she is hiding. In revenge for framing him for the "theft" of the necklace, Jack attacks him and smashes his head against a glass window (this explains the gash on Lovejoy's head that can be seen when he dies in the completed version of the film). The test audiences disliked this scene, saying it would be unrealistic to risk one's life for wealth, and Cameron cut it for this reason, as well as for timing and pacing reasons. Many other scenes were cut for similar reasons.


Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox financed Titanic, and expected James Cameron to complete the film for a release on July 2, 1997. With production delays, Paramount pushed back the release date to December 19, 1997. The film premiered on November 1, 1997, at the Tokyo International Film Festival, where reaction was described as "tepid" by the New York Times.

Box office

The film received steady attendance after opening in North America on Friday, December 19, 1997. By the end that same weekend, theaters were beginning to sell out. The film debuted with $8,658,814 on its opening day and $28,638,131 over the opening weekend from 2,674 theaters, averaging to about $10,710 per venue, and ranking #1 at the box office, ahead of the 18th James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. By New Year's Day, Titanic had made over $120 million, had increased in popularity and theaters continued selling out. Its biggest single day took place on Saturday February 14 (Valentine's Day) 1998, making $13,048,711, more than six weeks after it debuted in North America. After it was released, it stayed at #1 for 15 consecutive weeks in the U.S. and Canada box office, which was at the time (and still remains today) a record for any film. By March 1998, it was the first film to earn more than $1 billion worldwide. The movie stayed in theaters in North America for almost ten months before finally closing on Thursday October 1, 1998 with a final domestic gross of $600,788,188, and making double that amount overseas with an international gross of $1,248,025,607. The film accumulated a grand total of $1,848,813,795 worldwide, and to this day Titanic retains the record as the highest-grossing film in history.

Critical reaction

The film garnered mostly positive reviews from critics. It is a "Certified Fresh" film on Rotten Tomatoes, with 82% overall approval from critics. The film currently has a 74/100 metascore on Metacritic, classified as a generally favorable reviewed film.

Roger Ebert wrote, "It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted, and spellbinding...Movies like this are not merely difficult to make at all, but almost impossible to make well. The technical difficulties are so daunting that it's a wonder when the filmmakers are also able to bring the drama and history into proportion. I found myself convinced by both the story and the sad saga." It was his ninth best film of 1997. On the television program Siskel & Ebert, the film received "two thumbs up"; Ebert describing it as "a glorious Hollywood epic, well-crafted and well worth the wait" and Gene Siskel found Leonardo DiCaprio "captivating". James Berardinelli explains, "Meticulous in detail, yet vast in scope and intent, Titanic is the kind of epic motion picture event that has become a rarity. You don't just watch Titanic, you experience it." It was his second best movie of 1997. Almar Haflidason of the BBC wrote "The sinking of the great ship is no secret, yet for many exceeded expectations in sheer scale and tragedy. And when you consider that it tops a bum-numbing three-hour running time, then you have a truly impressive feat of entertainment achieved by Cameron."

Some reviewers felt that the story and dialogue were weak, while the visuals were spectacular. Richard Corliss of Time magazine wrote a mostly negative review, criticizing the lack of interesting emotional elements. Kenneth Turan's review in the Los Angeles Times was particularly scathing. Dismissing the emotive elements, he says, "What really brings on the tears is Cameron's insistence that writing this kind of movie is within his abilities. Not only is it not, it is not even close." Barbara Shulgasser of San Francisco Examiner gave Titanic one star out of four, citing a friend as saying, "The number of times in this unbelievably badly-written script that the two [lead characters] refer to each other by name was an indication of just how dramatically the script lacked anything more interesting for the actors to say." Filmmaker Robert Altman called it "the most dreadful piece of work I've ever seen in my entire life".

Titanic suffered backlash after its release. In 2003, the film topped a poll of "Best Film Endings", and yet it also topped a poll by The Film programme as "the worst movie of all time". The British film magazine Empire reduced their rating of the film from the maximum five stars and an enthusiastic review, to four stars with a less positive review in a later edition, to accommodate its readers’ tastes, who wanted to disassociate themselves from the hype surrounding the film, and the reported activities of its fans (such as those attending multiple screenings). Parodies and spoofs abounded and were circulated around the Internet, often inspiring passionate responses from fans of various opinions of the film.

Since its release, Titanic has appeared on the AFI's award-winning 100 Years.... So far, it has ranked on the following six lists:

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Rank Notes
Thrills 25 A list of the top 100 thrilling movies in American cinema compiled in 2001.
Passions 37 A list of the top 100 love stories in American cinema, compiled in 2002.
Songs 14 A list of the top 100 songs in American cinema, compiled in 2004. Titanic ranked 14th for Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On".
Movie quotes 100 A list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema, compiled in 2005. Titanic ranked 100th for Jack Dawson's (Leonardo DiCaprio) yell of, "I'm the king of the world!"
Movies 83 A 2007 (10th anniversary) edition of 1997's list of the 100 best movies of the past century. Titanic was not eligible when the original list was released.
AFI's 10 Top 10 6 The 2008 poll consisted of the top ten films in ten different genres. Titanic ranked as the sixth best epic film.


Titanic began its awards sweep starting with the Golden Globes, winning four, namely Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Song. Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, and James Cameron's screenplay were also nominees but lost. It won the ACE "Eddie" Award, ASC Award, Art Directors Guild Award, Cinema Audio Society Award, Screen Actors Guild Awards, (Best Supporting Actress Gloria Stuart), The Directors Guild of America Award, and Broadcast Film Critics Association Award (Best Director James Cameron), and The Producer Guild of America Awards. It was also nominated for ten BAFTA awards, including Best Film and Director.

It was nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards and won 11, including the Best Picture and Best Director. It also picked up Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song, and Best Art Direction awards. Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart and the make-up artists were the three nominees that did not win. James Cameron's original screenplay and Leonardo DiCaprio were not nominees. It was the second movie to win eleven Academy Awards, after Ben-Hur. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King would also match this record in 2004, with its 11 wins from 11 nominations.

"My Heart Will Go On" won the Grammy Awards for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television. The film also won Best Male Performance for Leonardo DiCaprio and Best Movie at the MTV Movie Awards, Best Film at the People's Choice Awards, and Favorite Movie at the 1998 Kids' Choice Awards. It won various awards outside the United States, including the Awards of the Japanese Academy as the Best Foreign Film of the Year. Titanic eventually won nearly 90 awards and had an additional 47 nominations from various award-giving bodies around the world.

Home video

The inside contents of the 5-Disc collector's set
Titanic was released worldwide in widescreen and pan and scan formats on VHS and laserdisc on September 1, 1998. The VHS was also made available in a deluxe boxed gift set with a mounted filmstrip and a color booklet. A DVD version was released on July 31, 1999 in a widescreen-only (non-anamorphic) single disc edition with no special features other than a theatrical trailer. Cameron stated at the time that he intended to release a special edition with extra features later. This release became the best-selling DVD of 1999 and early 2000, becoming the first DVD ever to sell 1 million copies.

An international two- and four-disc set followed on November 7, 2005. The two-disc edition was marketed as the Special Edition, and featured the first two discs of the three-disc set, only PAL enabled. A four-disc edition, marketed as the Deluxe Collector's Edition, was also released on November 7, 2005.

Available only in the UK, a limited five-disc set of the film, under the title Deluxe Limited Edition, was released with only 10,000 copies manufactured. The fifth disc contains James Cameron's documentary Ghosts of the Abyss, which was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Unlike the individual release of Ghosts of the Abyss, which contained two discs, only the first disc was included in the set.


The soundtrack album for Titanic was composed by James Horner and became the best selling primarily orchestral soundtrack of all time. The soundtrack includes performances from Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø, and Canadian singer Celine Dion. It became a worldwide success, spending 16 weeks at #1 in the United States and was certified diamond for over 11 million copies sold in the United States, alone. The soundtrack also became best selling album of 1998 in the U.S. It also led to the release of a second volume (Back to Titanic) that contained a mixture of previously unreleased soundtrack recordings with newly-recorded performances of some of the songs in the film, including one track recorded by Enya's sister, Máire Brennan of the Irish band Clannad. "Hymn to the Sea" features Bad Haggis's Eric Rigler on the uilleann pipes and whistles. Back to Titanic was also a sizeable hit, reaching #2 in the U.S. and selling over a million copies.

James Horner wrote the song "My Heart Will Go On" in secret with Will Jennings because Cameron did not want any songs with singing in the film. Dion agreed to record a demo with the persuasion of her husband René Angélil. Horner waited until Cameron was in an appropriate mood before presenting him with the song. After playing it several times, Cameron declared its approval, although worried that he would have been criticized for "going commercial at the end of the movie". It eventually won the 1997 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

3D Conversion

During the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, director James Cameron announced that Titanic was in the process of being converted into 3-D and re-released at some point in 2011. Speaking at the convention, Cameron said:

We can't call it dimensionalisation, we have to call it conversion. That's the same thing, we're going to turn it into high quality 3D. It takes about a year to 18 months to do it depending on the complexity. We've been told somewhere around a year, maybe 14 months. We've tested it, seen a couple of minutes converted. It looks spectacular. But it really requires the filmmaker to be involved to make sure that the Stereo Space decisions are made correctly.




  1. Hollywood Braces for Likely Delay Of 'Titanic' - The New York Times
  2. Marsh, p.3-29
  3. Marsh, p.v-xiii
  4. Playboy Interview with James Cameron
  5. Marsh, pp 36-38
  6. Quiz at the past international DVD website
  7. Marsh, p.130-141
  8. Marsh, p.52-4
  9. Marsh, p.161-68
  10. Marsh, p.147-54
  11. Marsh, p.65
  12. Insert
  13. Siskel & Ebert critical review
  14. A Film Review by James Berardinelli
  15. James Berardinelli Top 10 of 1997
  17. Titanic Awards and Nominations
  19. special release on
  20. Deluxe edition on
  21. Parisi, p. 195

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