Adding 3D to Titanic is like pointlessly renovating a big, popular, famous building. It wasn’t intended for 3D when it was shot. It never needed 3D. It was a phenomenal success without 3D. But to mark the centenary of the ship’s maiden voyage and tragic sinking, Twentieth Century Fox and director James Cameron have released it again in a retro-fitted stereoscopic version. Of course, greedily juicing out more millions of dollars has nothing to do with it at all.
I would be less cynical about their crass attempt at cashing in on the disaster if Cameron had re-released the film in just a 2D format. It would have shown more respect for the original project. I’m not going to pretend that Titanic isn’t a good picture. Yes, it possesses a head-bashingly terrible screenplay, yes the acting leaves a lot to be desired, and yes it has the subtlety of a very blunt axe, but I can’t help but love it.
Up until this year, I had only ever seen the film on television screens. My first introduction to it was at Christmas on BBC television, then a couple of years later on VHS. Since then I’ve watched it on DVD, and as the years have progressed, the experience of watching it on a television screen has got better and better, with the introduction of Blu-ray players which intelligently (though not perfectly) upscale a grainy DVD picture to near-high definition. So for someone like me, who had never been completely immersed in the film in a darkened auditorium, the experience was truly extraordinary. It’s easy to underestimate the visual power of a film when one has only ever seen it in well-lit living-room.
So I am very grateful for the initial decision to bring Titanic back onto the big screen.What I object to is the ridiculous insistence that we need to wear silly glasses to experience the film at its best. The 3D treatment is rubbish. For the most part it’s not even apparent. Some critics have been very kind on this aspect, arguing Cameron has shown restraint when adding the three dimensions. In my opinion, I felt the whole effort was a waste of time and money. I’m glad the 3D wasn’t as distracting as it could have been, but at the same time, I’d have rather seen the film in a brighter, clearer 2D screening rather than suffering the severe light-loss that digital 3D enforces on its audience.
The love story is soppy and Mills & Boon-esque, but it’s a very easy one to get swept up in. Many people around me in the theatre were audibly moved by doomed romance between Jack and Rose (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, respectively), and I’d be willing to bet that their tears would have fallen just as readily if the film was shown properly in two dimensions.
I’m not going to hysterically accuse Titanic 3D of wreaking criminal damage on a masterpiece. The film is popcorn nonsense of the highest level, and popular entertainment at its best. But it deserves more respect than this desperate attempt to convince us that the dying 3D trend is worth the extortionate ticket price it demands of cinemagoers.
Titanic 3D, directed by James Cameron, is distributed by Twentieth Century Fox, Certificate 12A.