James Cameron, 70th Academy Awards:  “I’m the king of the world!”

He very might take home another Oscar for Avatar, but I hope not, since I don’t want to see any more of his assholery on display.  But I will say that when I first saw Titanic, I was moved.  But in an annoyed, ‘I know you’re pulling at my heartstrings’ way, much like my reaction to The Joy Luck Club. (I attribute that to years of Asian parent-related guilt piled high and steaming; it didn’t help that I saw the movie with my mother).  The scene of Isadore Straus and his wife, spooning in bed, as the water rushes in — there’s something touching about love in the face of futility, even if it’s staged and over art-directed.

I recall the incredible hubbub around the film — young girls seeing it over and over again (much like young men currently with Avatar).  For me, the Jack/Rose romance worked on an overblown, visceral level — but, alas, only once.  I sniffled when Leonardo DiCaprio sank into the icy blue waters the first time, but when Matthew and I watched later on videotape (the movie split over two videocassettes since it was too long to fit onto one), we skipped the first tape entirely (mostly because Matthew was much more interested in mayhem, catastrophe, and china patterns).  DiCaprio blubbered again, and I felt nothing but pure, malicious joy.  No one can freeze you to death quite like Celine Dion.

So I expected to go into A Night to Remember again with the same sort of distance.  I’ve seen it before.  (Spoiler alert:  the ship sinks.)  There’s no central character apart from 2nd Office Lightoller and no determinative storyline.  Instead, we see brief vignettes from the different social strata, the levels that never meet except to… you know, drown.

But I’ll be damned if I didn’t start tearing up when the orchestra continues to play on deck, even after the ship has listed, making it nearly impossible to stand upright.  The violin player starts up “Nearer My God to Thee,” and the other players, who had begun walking away, return to accompany him.  I knew this scene was coming, and yet it still affected me the way that Titanic no longer did.  There’s a sense of real loss, of inevitable history.  There was nothing forced, nothing manipulative.  Well, maybe except for montage of the poly-lingual prayer right before they go down.  Oh, and the little boy crying for his Mommy.  But at least we weren’t subjected to him slowly sinking into waters lit like it was a Fuerza Bruta show.

Also, I’ve never had a crush on a wireless operator before, but Kenneth Griffith’s portrayal of John Phillips had me at “dot-dot-dot dash-dash-dash dot-dot-dot.”

Advertisements