Directed by James Cameron
Yes, it's true. I've never seen Titanic.
But I've heard a lot about it and I've seen the poster, so I think I can piece together a recap of one of the Greatest Cinematic Experiences of All Time.
The story begins in a small farmhouse in Iowa. A young Leonardo DiCaprio is born to a kindly faming couple (uncredited cameos by MIchelle Pfieffer and Harvey Keitel) who cannot afford to keep him. They sell him to a circus owner (Billy Zane) who is making his way across the country circussing until he can save up enough money to buy a boat.
Years pass, and Leo and Mr. Circus criss-cross the country entertaining crowds and earning money. Audiences especially like Leo's jump though the Flaming Hoop of Death, which he performs nightly.
Meanwhile, Kate Winslet is growing up somewhere super-rich. Growing up rich is boring, so the film focusses only on Leo until the end.
One day, Leo gets a letter in the Circus Mail from the Titanic Company. He has won the "Why I Want to Ride the Titanic Boat in 50 Words or Less" Contest. So he sets off on horseback to Titanic City, where the boat is stored.
The plot line featuring Mr. Circus and his desire to own a boat is unfortunately tossed to the wayside, in favor of a sub-plot featuring an arm-wrestling contest which seems out of place in this movie. Disappointing. Audiences have long complained about this glaring misstep, and is one of the main reasons I've never seen it.
As Leo arrives in Titanic City, he meets Kate Winslet and her father, Bill Paxton (played by Bill Pullman). They offer to allow him to stay in their boat room, which just happens to be the entire penthouse of the Titanic Boat!
This is where the movie really lags. We take a very lengthy tour of the penthouse suite. It mostly seems like just an extended commercial for Titanic Boats, but product placement is the way these days so we must accept it.
Suddenly, an iceberg sails across the ocean into the boat, cracking it in half. All the rich people on the boat are on the half above water, and the poor people are on the sinking half. Leo has each of his feet on a different half, and he yells to Kate "What should I do?", Kate is too busy looking at her fancy necklace because she wants to tell a story about it later.
Leo never gets his answer, so he jumps onto the "rich" side. He is beaten about the face with the rich people's gold-plated newspapers that were distributed as the boat initially set sail.
As water fills the boat areas, Leo's shoelace gets caught on a deck chair. Luckily, it is an inflatable chair, so Leo isn't dead... yet.
While Leo bobs in the water on his deck chair, Kate comes by and offers Leo a ride in her speedboat. He refuses, knowing that the story about her necklace needs a sad ending. He is a True American Hero.
Kate's speedboat speedboats away into the darkness, and Leo hums a little tune while he drowns. "My Heart is Going Somewhere" becomes an American standard hit performed by some of the most respected singers of all-time.
The final scene before the ending credits hints at a sequel, as a baby's arm reaches out of the ocean, and we hear someone yelling "He's alive!". The title card then reads "THE END?", and the audience leaves satisfied.
I recommend this movie to anyone who likes the circus, mail-in contests and necklaces.
Four bucks on VHS!