I am absolutely in love with the film Titanic.
Some people use this phrase flippantly but not I.
I have known my fair share of people, read my fair share of books, heard my fair share of bands and songs, and seen my fair share of films. I consider myself nothing close to an expert in any of the above, but when I fall in love, I fall hard.
I have loved this movie since the first time I saw it. I remember sitting in a movie theater with my family… The room was packed, with people standing in the aisles even. Back then, it seems as if they were a bit more lax with violating fire codes.
I was sitting next to the wall, which was always my favorite kind if seat in the old theater set-ups, and my brother (who was quite young at the time) sat between my dad and I. My mom sat on the other side of my dad, doing her best to keep little bitty Sami quiet.
I remember my dad tearing up, along with the majority of the theater and I, when Jack died. I remember flinching, just as I flinch now, when the smoke stack fell on hundreds of people in the freezing water below, right before the ship finally split in half and sank.
I remember seeing that movie three times in theater, the proceeding two times only with my dad. I remember the theaters being equally packed.
I remember getting my first copy of the film on VHS, and later watching one tape as I fell asleep each night, and watching the other to fall asleep the next. I remember rigging my DVD player, just last year, to still play the tapes by tilting it upwards, blowing in the slot for the tapes, and toggling the buttons just the right way until it played. I remember the day the first tape finally crapped out, right before my mom, sister, and I went on a summer vacation to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.
I remember panicking because I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep to Titanic every night, and buying it on DVD to watch on a portable DVD player my mom and dad had given me for Christmas years prior.
Now, as I sit here and watch it on On Demand, stuck in bed and sicker than I have been in a while, I remember why I fell in love with the film to begin with. From a young age, this movie taught me how to fall in love. It taught me the mechanics of story-book romance… From the historically accurate minute props (like the styles of the womens’ girdles and the bone caviar spoons) to the perfect timing of introduction, fulfillment, climax, and tragedy….from the pacing required to get to know and care about the characters to the pacing required to maintain motion with the plot points, and therefore the attention of the audience…
When I fell in love with Titanic, I fell in love with story telling. Sure, I had already written my first book… Ask my grandma if you don’t believe me ;)… Sure, I had already told some tall tales… But Titanic taught me the importance of doing it well. If the stories I tell don’t make my audience question aspects of life as they know it, or even the entirety of life as they know it… And if my stories don’t grip the hearts of my readers in a vice, letting go only in time to avoid cardiac arrest… Then I have no business telling them at all, and should leave the art to the men and women of this world who can.
Thanks, James Cameron and the cast and crew of this film. Thanks Dad, for showing me (even though I didn’t know you were at the time) that real men arent afraid to feel what I feel when I watch films just as these. Thanks to my family for being there for my first viewing of this movie… And for believing in my stories all of these years. I’m not saying it all started with Titanic, but like Celine Dion said in that sorely overplayed song… This movie has made my heart (and courage, and pen) go on and on…..