Sunday, 28 August 2011

Titanic: A Kubrick moment?

James Cameron's blockbuster Titanic is one of those rare phenomenon in film where a picture completely captures the hearts of the moviegoing public, to the point where it becomes an instant classic.The lovers Rose and Jack, the haunting theme song and the dazzling effects that recreate this enormous and legendary vessel are all worth the price of admission alone. I am not going to review this great movie however, instead I am going to share what I noticed during one scene of the film that I don't think anyone else has noticed or thought was important enough to mention.

There is a scene in Titanic where Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) enters the first class premises of the ship for the first time. He has never been near such luxury before, and if he has even been close, this time he is dressed as a member of the elite passengers and is therefore treated as royalty. This scene takes place around the famous grand staircase on the ship, which is covered by an enormous domed window. Jack looks up at the this great domed glass ceiling, as if it is another planet. He is gazing at the globe, and underneath the globe (Jack looks down at the staircase) we see the beautifully dressed rich, in all their silks, furs and jewels, strolling calmly, speaking to each other in refined and educated language. Jack is looking at a completely different world to the one he comes from. He comes from the poor ranks of society- where people struggle to get by and have only a few possessions to their name. He has seen the rich before, but not from this perspective. He is now in their world and a part of their world, even if it is only for the evening. I couldn't find the clip on YouTube but here are photos that give the idea:

This reminded me greatly of the sequence in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey that comes straight after the ape man or caveman throws a bone into the air. This scene shows a spacecraft or some sort of satellite orbiting the earth. We as an audience are seeing earth from the perspective of an outsider, and we are the spacecraft, floating around this world that we have never seen so vividly before. This is the similarity. Jack is the spacecraft, the domed glass ceiling is the world, and both are mere spectators of this beautiful new sight. Here is the scene at 0:14...

You may think my observances are far-fetched, but to give my argument more ground there is one other overlapping quality that convinces me of James Cameron's inspiration or mini-homage. During both sequences Johann Strauss II's The Blue Danube waltz is playing.

This is not the most interesting observance made about a film, but I must ask that next time you view Titanic and 2001: A Space Odyssey, observe these sequences and see if you think there is a strong enough similarity between both.

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