274 of 284 people found the following review helpful
Best Titanic movie yet.,
This review is from: A Night to Remember (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Cameron's film has its moments, but in truth I only liked it for the chance it gave me to see a great old ocean liner brought to life again on screen. In "A Night To Remember", the effects are not nearly so impressive, but the story is far better. It's very much in the style of a docudrama, but its a docudrama about one of the most fascinating and enduring stories in all of history. I don't quite know why Cameron felt it necessary to tell a soap opera melodrama about two fictional lovers and use one of the most dramatic stories in all human history as nothing more than a backdrop. "A Night To Remember", based on Walter Lord's outstanding book of the same name, tells the story of the disaster itself. Kenneth More plays a heroic Second Officer Lightoller, and the film actually makes him out to look a little better than he did in reality - he lowered several of the lifeboats less than half loaded, and permitted no men at all to get in, even when the boats were ready to lower and no more women were nearby to board. Still, this bit of dramatic license doesn't hurt the film.
The account of Titanic's loss has something in it to appeal to everybody. For the lovers of a great story it has incredible drama and suspense. For lovers of nostalgia it is far the best documented voyage of any ship from the golden age of the great ocean liners. For those interested in tragic irony there is the story of a great ship, regarded as unsinkable going down after ominous warnings were ignored. For those interested in stories with a moral, there is the cautionary tale of placing blind faith in any work of human hands, or thinking that the things of men are impervious to the forces of nature. For students of human nature, Titanic was a microcosm of society, with the full range of human strength and weakness on display, from acts of inspiring heroism to those of despicable cowardice. For those interested in social history, there is the huge gulf between the first class passengers with their vast wealth, and those in steerage with little more than the clothes they stood up in.
Few stories have proven so enduring and so fascinating as that of the Titanic. This movie remains the best, and most faithful film version of it to this day.
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Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 28, 2009 3:33:54 PM PDT
Linda Ellis says:
I enjoyed your review, but wish to comment on your Cameron statement. I felt the human element of the two lovers brings it to life perfectly. This is a human tragedy. Lives--loved ones--were lost. To dismiss his storytelling as a "soap opera" is unfair, I think. How does anyone tell a story so dramatic without a bit of dramatic license? You are completely right, though, it doesn't hurt the film.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2010 9:44:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 26, 2010 9:44:52 AM PST
Jeanne Sisson says:
I have to disagree with you. Although entertaining, Cameron's version makes the actual sinking secondary to the love story. I believe the English film is the best, although I also liked the Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyk version.
Posted on Apr 1, 2010 2:08:52 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2010 2:13:41 PM PDT
G. Todd Jr. says:
I think this (Criterion) version of Titanic/A Night to Remember to be superior in almost every way (except the CGI, of course). Cameron's film is hilariously awful. Without a doubt the most overrated Oscar winner in history. The ridiculous soap opera subplot and the wooden acting are the most memorable aspects of Mr. Cameron's megamoney machine of a movie.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 16, 2011 1:09:27 AM PDT
The phony story between Rose and Jack pales in significance (and human interest) to the real stories of the Strausses, the Astors, and Mr. Guggenheim, not to mention the passengers in the lower decks.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2011 7:52:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2011 7:57:43 PM PST
Ah! The Titanic bashers are out in full force. I'm so use to this drill by now. You can't like both movies if you like one or the other. You can't like Titanic more because "oh my gosh, there's a love story in it!".
Frankly, they are too different movies. A Night to Remember is more documentary like, and because of that keeps you at a distance emotionally. But it is historically interesting. Cameron's film on the other hand, makes an attempt to get you to know the passengers instead of trying to cram 15 different stories into the mix which would mean shortchanging all of them. By using Jack and Rose, and moving his personal story between first class and steerage, we identify more with those they meet than the short time we spend with them in A Night to Remember. I like both films. But the continual Cameron bashing over ten years after the Titanic was released is just childish and idiotic. Grow up, boys. Or does Cameron's movie still threaten your manhood because it isn't Terminator? Because that's what it sounds like to me.
But you all did a good job of jumping on the "let's bash Cameron bandwagon." Success breeds contempt in some people.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2011 8:10:48 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2011 8:11:28 PM PST
Darren O'Connor says:
Sorry, but I disagree. You say Cameron's film "makes an attempt to get you to know the passengers"? How. Jack and Rose WEREN'T passengers. They were fictional characters. I am far more interested in the actual stories of Ida and Isidore Strauss, who refused to be separated and went down together, than I am of fictional lovers. I am far more interested in the actions of Second Officer Lightoller, who (despite mistakes he made) actually made heroic efforts to save people, rather than engaging in a melodramatic, make-believe gunfight, time to occur (melodramatically) as the ship goes down. I am far more interested in the story of Molly Brown, a gauche, uncultured, nouveau riche woman from midwestern America, who rose to the occasion and displayed class, bravery, and grit, than I am in stereotype villains with evil henchmen. Sorry if THAT threatens YOUR manhood.
Cameron's movie was not a bad movie, don't get me wrong. It just isn't nearly as interesting to me, because the real story is so much more tragic, more interesting, and more inspiring than any work of fiction.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2011 8:47:19 PM PST
They were fictional characters using a historic background, something done in films time and time again with not much complaint until Cameron did it. Strike that, I mean no complaints until Cameron's movie became such a huge hit.
But you could actually read Lord's book and get more out of it than the move version of A Night to Remember which tried to cram so much in a short period of time that you really didn't know any more about any of the participants than what you would read in a two paragraph newspaper clip. I learned more on the History Channel and A&E then I did in A Night to Remember. Yes, we saw the Strauss's, but we knew no more about them by the time the end credits than we did before hand. Did it really tell us anything about what they were really like?We saw basically the same scene in the 1953 fictionalized version. Cameron filmed a scene or two as well, but felt that after two previous reenactments, it would have been redundant.
What Cameron did, was make you feel as if you knew the passengers on board, even if many of them were fictional. But they were real to those who watched, not just a story out of a book, a paragraph in a newspaper, or a statistic. We knew them because the story of Jack and Rose enabled us to make a connection to them, because of the part these passengers played in their lives. Cameron never left that focus. so that by the time the sinking did occur, we would have that emotional involvement with the sinking that was always missing. Until one can make that human connection, we are no better than Brock Lovett was at the beginning of the film.
Molly Brown? What did you learn about her in A Night to Remember that you didn't know before? Calling Debbie Reynolds! There is no more connection to these historical figures than before because of the reasons I mentioned. Everybody gets their ten minutes of film, and then off they go.
My point is this and I'll restate it once more: I like both films. But using A Night to Remember as nothing more than a tool to beat up on Cameron's film is idiotic. And let's be honest, until Cameron's film was released in 1997 and became such a huge hit, except for a very few, most people didn't know or care what A Night to Remember was by the late 1990's. And without Cameron's film to stir interest in Titanic anew, then you wouldn't even have this Criterion edition of A Night to Remember because nobody would give a damn, something a lot of you seem to want to forget, or just ignore.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2011 2:58:54 PM PST
Melissa Jeckavitch says:
Actually, I must disagree greatly with you. I was born long after A Night To Remember was released and still prefer it to any other film. I have seen Cameron's Titanic, and while it is pretty to look at (and I do mean VERY pretty) I much prefer the bits they through in with the real people than anything with Jack and Rose. Like Charlie the Baker on the stern of the ship, and the framing shot of the boy with the top on deck. They really are not explained who they are in the movie, or why they are there. They are just bonuses for those who study the ship like I do.
All that being said, I have always prefered A Night To Remember as it tends to focus more on the story of the sinking, and have done so long before James Cameron put his movie out. I own it on VHS, and am eager to get it on DVD.
One final note. To those who bash Cameron's movie. I get where you are coming from, I really do. But if it weren't for James Cameron, we wouldn't have had the renewed vigor in the ship that we did in the 1990's. After the ship was located, there was some interest stirred (that was when I got hooked), but not nearly as much as the blockbuster created. Be grateful for what the movie gave us - a work that will be inspiring interest in the ship long after it has turned to dust on the ocean floor.
Posted on Jan 16, 2012 1:06:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 16, 2012 1:09:03 AM PST
Corlyss M. Drinkard says:
Amen. This is still the greatest movie about the Titanic ever made. As Cameron himself knows, the story was dramatic enough. It didn't need tarting up with a spurious, grafted on, labored, noxious love story just to snag the younger demo. It didn't need mention of many ironic facts about the sinking to make the story worth telling. It just made the Cameron's movie interminably long.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2012 2:36:44 AM PST