Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Titanic (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


I remember it like it was yesterday. It is suddenly 1997. I am an art student at The Savannah College of Art and Design and my heart is squashed and heavy over a first romance that ended abruptly over a long distance phone call. The Spanish moss hangs in the tree of night like severed lines of communication between myself and my girlfriend. Her name is like a red crayon on my heart and I just want to forget everything, to go places, however short in duration.

I went to the movies.

This is how I felt fourteen  years ago when I first saw James Cameron's "Titanic". And the viewing of it once more at The Tropic is like touching a friend of memory, bringing the sensation of a heart once submerged, and only now lifted up. This version has the added gusto of 3D, presumably to enhance the ship collision and even subliminally, the pull and pain of love. 

Most of us are familiar with the story which was as iconic in 1997 as "Romeo & Juliet" was in Shakespeare's day. There is young Jack, an artist (Leonardo DiCaprio) a kind of Disney-eyed Rimbaud, minus the rough edges. And Rose, (Kate Winslet) a fleshly ghost of a beauty with flaming red hair right out of a Dante Gabriel Rossetti painting. In many ways "Titanic" is a fetishistic  diorama of young love. DiCaprio is like a junior hybrid of a blonde Gauguin and a Peter Pan , dashing and rumpled. Winslet, a snowflake on fire, is at once a Marilyn Monroe, a Betty Boop, a Snow White, and a oceanic Ophelia. By lighting  Winslet's  face with many colored filters in accordance with the drama, Cameron takes a cue from Andy Warhol. Winslet is the new Marilyn from 1997 and beyond, shooting out of space: A mariner maven in red, yellow,white and gray blue. 

There is the classic sketching on the sofa scene and in this new version it just about reaches campy heights. The rounded flash of breasts almost bounces on your eyes. If Cameron had only gone further, Russ Meyer would not be out of place. Perhaps soft porn IS the final frontier of 3D. 

Suddenly the  Iceberg of infamy is upon us and chunks of it are everywhere in the theater. The film becomes a pop-up book of disaster. The leonine liner, an indigo arrow, slips into an ocean that envelops all in its dark cape. And for minutes on end, people scamper crazily about like sugar ants under Cameron's Miltonic gaze.

There is no added drama here or enriched pathos. This is "Titanic" as it was in 1997 despite the trappings of 3D. The added effect never detracts from its suspense and likable schmaltz, I'm just not sure it does all that much to strengthen it.

But no matter. As I leaned in my chair I saw the frozen flame of  Rose once again and I could almost smell that happy-sad aroma of the paper mill under, along, and throughout The Talmadge Bridge: my own ship that once  voyaged across a flaming November river and into the sea.

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