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Titanic and the Making of James Cameron Paperback – April 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews Review

Paula Parisi, who spent a decade covering tech-heavy films for The Hollywood Reporter, is among the very, very few journalists whom the notoriously thin-skinned director James Cameron trusts. He granted her amazing access to Titanic, the costliest film ever made. Parisi puts you there on that fascinating, top-secret set, while Kate Winslet flirtatiously calls out from the dark, moody grotto of the 100-foot water tank to Leo DiCaprio, "Darling! Come join me on the debris!" We get privileged glimpses of Cameron shaping his star's performance, right down to his gait in his crucial entrance to the high-society dinner--"You're a little too funky chicken there, Leo ... don't nod to the waiter!"

She has great details about the infamous incident in which some jerk poisoned the crew with the terrifying hallucinogen PCP, sending 56 people to the emergency room. PCP transformed Cameron into a replica of Schwarzenegger in his film Terminator. "Life imitates art," Cameron's pal Lewis Abernathy tells Parisi. "One eye was completely red, just like the Terminator eye. A pupil, no iris, beet red. The other eye looked like he'd been sniffing glue since he was four ... I'm thinking call an organ donor bank, next of kin ... And he puts on this big ol' grin and says, 'Finish the movie, Lewis, you know what to do!'"

The set medic tamed panic with pop music, just like the Titanic orchestra--only Roy Orbison instead of ragtime. Star Bill Paxton made a daring escape from the hospital and got back to the set in time for the conga line.

Cameron's ego is so damn can-do that he feels he could have saved the passengers of Titanic if he had been the captain. To save everybody, Cameron tells Parisi, the captain simply should have loaded everybody aboard the iceberg! "They would have been cold, but they would have lived."

Parisi is the opposite of the typical scorpion-like showbiz reporter; she is pro-Cameron. To get to her unrivalled inside scoops, you have to wade through gushing sentences such as, "The symmetry and perfection of the room are as awesome as anything out of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon or The Shining." She does not dwell on the script's weaknesses, as most of the press and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did.

But if you have a scintilla of interest in how this infinitely difficult and technically innovative film was made, Parisi's is the book to buy. --Tim Appelo

From Publishers Weekly

In the wake of James Cameron's Titanic (14 Academy nominations, 11 Oscars, a billion-dollar worldwide box office), Parisi traces the development of project "Big Boat" from inception to conclusion in a tribute to "the man who did more than any other to revolutionize the look of film as we enter the new millennium." Written in a breezy, reportorial style, the book details the execution of Cameron's vision of Titanic "as a kind of living history." Cameron's notorious perfectionism prompted the building of a 750-foot replica of the Titanic and the building of Cameron's own film studio in Mexico. Called the 100 Day Studio, it was the first built by one of the Hollywood majors since the 1930s. Taking responsibility for his excesses, Cameron (in an unprecedented move) reassigned his profit-sharing back to Twentieth Century-Fox. Surpassing Waterworld's gigantic budget, Titanic became the most expensive movie ever made. Staffers wore T-shirts proclaiming: "You Can't Scare Me I Work for James Cameron." But Mr. Action King pulled it off. At the cost of $1 million per minute, Titanic became the highest-grossing film ever in the U.S., exceeding Star Wars. There is an old-fashioned feel to the story of the making of Titanic, and Parisi's lively portrayal recalls the egomaniacal geniuses of yore, particularly D.W. Griffith, whose daring innovations founded the movies as an art form by 1912. Is Cameron the D.W. Griffith of the 21st century? Time, the greatest Titan of all, will tell. 16-page color photo insert not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Newmarket Press (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557043655
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557043658
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kristy on June 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book brought the movie into a new perspective. It made it very easy to explain certain scenes to our kids, so that they could truly understand the complexity of the movie and thus of the disaster. The actors/actresses speaking of the fear they felt on the set just trying to recreate the worst maritime disaster in history-gives us a small glimpse of what the passengers/crew faced that nite. Also, it gave us a new respect for all the hard work, long hours, difficulties that had to be overcome to delivery the greatest movie of all time to the public. Also, we get to see that James Cameron is human, he gets frustrated and upset just like everyone else, that in and of itself was reassuring, because he is so often portrayed as larger than life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By seagull496 on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is the closest thing to actually being there whilethe film was made. Parisi's exclusive access to the set and Cameronpermits an over the shoulder view describing details and nuances that went into making a movie of epic proportions. Many facets of directing are not generally known and we are made aware of the struggle and persistence to get things done. Thus we have insight into the genius of Cameron and respect for the author's ability to translate the enormity of making this masterpiece. I enjoyed being a fly on the wall thanks to Parisi's book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
I'm glad to have been exposed to the minutiae of the mammoth undertaking of making this film, because it increased my appreciation for both Titanic and James Cameron; also, it was interesting. But I feel that the book could have been vastly improved by HAVING SOMEONE EDIT IT!!!!!!!! (Parisi thanks an editor in the afterword, but I have doubts such a person really exists). The same grammatical errors appear consistently (such as the use of the conjunction "it's" where "its" would be correct, the use of the word "premiere" where "premier" would be correct, commas used where semicolons should go - really basic errors which any high school teacher would catch). The author's frequent switches between past and present tense make for a somewhat disjointed reading experience. I undertand what she was trying to do, but I think it could have been achieved in a more seamless fashion. The above kept pulling me out of the narrative and jerking me back into reality, and that certainly interfered with my enjoyment of the work. Having said that, Parisi does provide an abundance of detail (for all but the very technologically advanced or production insiders, maybe a little too much - you find yourself reading for context) and some interesting insight into James Cameron. As well, and this is perhaps the single best reason to read this book, she does succeed in conveying the huge scope of this project - and the attention paid to every single detail that resulted in a superlative piece of work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Skulk13 on April 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
First off, to the other reviewers, please don't start writing about how great the film is! Most of the people who order this book already agree with that. This is for reviews of Paula Parisi's book!
Anyway, Parisi has done a fantastic job shedding light on the immense production that was Titanic. It's great to read another take on the movie (pro-Titanic) from a person who was on the set for the duration of filming. While the film was in production, the way the press covered the film was pathetic (though fun gossip). Also, having been a fan of the way Parisi covers Cameron for T.H.R. and Wired, it was wonderful for us to have her delve a little deeper into the project.
My only wish is that Parisi would have included more about some of the crew members like Simon Crane, Jimmy Muro, and Josh McLaglen. Also, knowing how PA's get the crap work on movies, it would have been nice to hear some of their gossip. (Not to be confused with the press' gossip. I wanted more more like teamster/PA gossip). I would have also liked a little more insight into the cast. (not so much kate and leo, just a general overview on the work/conditions/feelings the main cast had on Titanic--something along the lines of how billy zane explains it all)
Otherwise, this book was a joy to read. It was a fast read too, which is always a good thing for a college student. :-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Bittner on June 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed Parisi's coverage of the making of TITANIC and her assessment of James Cameron as a unique visionary at the forefront of filmmaking today. But I have to second others' comments here: Too many typos for a professionally published book and too little detail when it comes down to the actual filming of the movie (especially when compared with the very thorough coverage of pre- and post-production). If I had to quibble, I'd also mention that the tone of the book is sometimes overly influenced by the movie's ultimate extraordinary success; in hindsight, it's easy to look back and point out all the places where studio execs were dead wrong and Cameron's instincts were right. But even with that quibble, this is a thorough, seemingly well-researched book that should be required reading for any serious fan of moviemaking in general and of Cameron and TITANIC in particular.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Parisi bit off more than she could chew with this book. A truly insightful work would have no doubt been a hulking tome that would break bookshelves, but the whole thing comes off as a bit brief, and you worry when halfway through the book she's still going on about the subs exploring Titanic.
Parisi is a journalist and this book reads like an extended article, complete with all the grammatical and puntuation errors. There's even one highly obscure derogatory reference to herself! She also says she finds the technical stuff interesting, but it's very poorly reported wirth terms and jargon never being explained.
I'm not a huge fan of the film, but I am of James Cameron, and of Film-making, and this book came off as insightful to both, which I was happy with.
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