Monday, April 16, 2012

I Will Go Down With This Ship... in 1997

Did anyone else have, for lack of a better description, a bit of a sinking feeling while watching ABC's Titanic miniseries this past weekend? Look, I knew going into it that it was not going to touch the throw-me-a-life-raft FEELINGS James Cameron's film gives me. But since Julian Fellowes wrote the likes of Downton Abbey and Gosford Park, I blindly went into it thinking I could trust him whole heartedly to create something that would stay with me. Well, perhaps I should have been more specific because now I'm remembering it for all the wrong reasons.
Look! It's Mr. B's cray-cray thievin' wife! And she's still cray-cray! (x)
One thing Julian Fellowes is known for is weaving together a ridiculous amount of story lines for characters from very different social stations in a mind bogglingly seamless way. He's basically the modern Dickens for scripts. But Titanic was a different beast entirely. It felt like all the characters had been stuffed into a cannon and blown at you at full force. You were simply knocked down by the sheer number of them. Because you barely got to follow a character long enough to catch their name, catch a glimpse of the inner workings of their mind, or understand what on earth they're doing. Of course, by episode three it felt like every storyline was being attacked by a forbidden romance remedy. In the case of the Russian dude who wouldn't stop touching his fake facial hair, this really came out of nowhere. I especially liked when his new love interest escaped third class with her children, but without her husband, and then the two men declare they'll have a fight to the death over her when they reach dry land. Um... I think you're about to drown? You might want to find yourself a life vest? I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure the love of fickle woman doesn't keep you afloat in the event of a shipwreck.
The Titanic may be doomed, but everybody gets a whirlwind romance! (x)
While the characters and their stories were confusing, what was worse was the way the story was told. Each episode started off before the ship left the dock. Which means not only do you have to watch the Titanic sink four times, but you have to watch some of the same events from different perspectives four times. You know that part in the 1997 film when that guy grabs Rose in the water because she's wearing a life jacket, holding her under water straining for breath? Yeah. That's what it felt like. Except there was no Jack to save me. Damn it! There was, however, a young light and not-unattractive-I-guess man named Jack who danced with Lady Georgiana Grex in the first episode. As you can well imagine, I nearly self-combusted with, "OH NO YOU DIDN'T!" Come on, now. Speaking of Lady Georgiana, I will say that there was one moment I really liked...
I can genuinely say these were the only characters I was at all interested in.
And that was when Harry put his coat around her shoulders. PROXIMITY!!!

The sets and costuming also left something to be desired. Half the time it didn't feel like we were on a ship, much less a ship as grand as Titanic. And, I assure you, this had little to do with how much more of third class we were seeing. It felt like they were holding back the whole time. In this adaptation of tragedy, it felt more like the ship of limitations than the ship of dreams. So when you're watching it go down, you're more like, "Mehhh..." than "ZOMG HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!?!?! THIS IS SO TRAGIC! JACK! ROSE! *HEART CLUTCH*!" Because apart from the fact that it just plain doesn't feel like the Titanic everyone's been obsessed with for 100 years, you barely know anyone's name enough to care that they're in danger anyway. Speaking of these no name characters, why were they so calm? Oh the water is on the deck now... let's sit down for a heart to heart. Or, nah, I don't think I'll get in a lifeboat. My ice queen self suddenly has feelings for my philandering husband (whose acting I cannot stand). Not believable, I'm sorry.
*crying over all the perfection* (x)
So when I say 'I will go down with this ship,' I obviously mean Jack/Rose and their stunning film. The whole time I was watching the miniseries, I missed the clarity and grandeur of the film. I missed the straightforward nature of the love story and the way you did get to know a lot about peripheral characters with a single shot rather than continuing to come back to them from a different angle. Some people think the movie is too cheesy, I disagree, but at least it works! It flows beautifully. James Cameron knew the limitations of trying to focus on too much and by putting the spotlight on one storyline it gave freedom to the story as a whole. I missed the sets, the costumes, actors who can act, the delivery of their memorable lines, the iconic scenes, the score, heck, I even missed seeing people's hair blow convincingly in the wind. I am further convinced that the epic 1997 film is flawless. I have learned my lesson. I will never ever stray again. Like... the miniseries didn't even have Celine Dion song, y'all.

3 comments:

  1. Before Titanic was A Night to Remember. I read the book and saw the film adaptation. I think you'd enjoy it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Night_to_Remember_%281958_film%29

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    1. Brita... have you been eavesdropping on our Skype meetings? haha

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  2. Confession: I totally forgot this was airing and therefore didn't set it to record (confession #2: I can't live without my DVR). So now, I'm kind of glad I didn't bother watching it. Though that feels so wrong to say. I STILL LOVE YOU JULIAN FELLOWS!

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