This week, Titanic becomes the latest cash cow to be re-milked in 3-D. The release will cause slight heart palpitations in some people and a twinge of bile in others. But it’s also a reminder of a phenomenon never since equaled at the movies. (Sure, James Cameron made even more money with Avatar, but you can’t tell us it felt the same.) Titanic was a romance that defied snide jokes about how everybody already knew the ending, because people returned to watch that ending again and again.
So we asked a few friends of the newspaper to dive down into their memories, 15 years back, to the moment they fell in love with a doomed boy in third class and the rich girl who showed him the Heart of the Ocean. What follows is an oral history of a fictionalization of history.
Katherine Vetrano, freelance food writer:
I was definitely in the obsessed-with-Titanic camp. To be fair, I was in elementary school. I have a distinct memory of sitting around at someone’s tea party-themed birthday party and listening to Celine Dion’s song. Some of us nodded gravely at its beauty, while others mouthed along since we, of course, knew it by heart. I was so obsessed with Titanic when it came out that I started a Titanic club at my elementary school in California. We studied the real Titanic and read about the actual people who died on it, which now that I think back on it was a little morbid for a fifth-grader.
Dannon Dripps, manager of the Academy Theater:
I was a senior in high school when it came out, so it was
the theme of our prom. God, I hated that song. I remember it being the
first movie I went to the theater to see by myself. Everyone I knew had
already seen it by that point or were boycotting it. I ended up enjoying
it and developed a crush on Kate Winslet, but I’ve never watched it
Devan Cook, blogger at Nike:
I lived in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, and my mom’s friend had to drive us over an hour to a town with a theater, and when we got there, it was sold out. My friend cried, so they let us sit in the aisle to watch it. So not worth sitting on a concrete floor for three hours. But that didn’t stop my friends from bringing framed Leonardo DiCaprio photos to school and setting them up on their desks. The girl I saw the movie with knocked hers over one day and it broke, and then she cut her hand really bad trying to pick up the glass before the teacher yelled at her. Then Leo photos were banned from the classroom.
Willy Vlautin, novelist and musician:
I was an inch away from pouring gasoline on myself when I heard “Oh Jack...oh Rose!” for the hundredth time. It’s a movie I’ve always despised. The problem is, the friend I was with was crying and mouthing the words “Jack” over and over the whole movie. She would have poured gasoline on me if it meant she could get Jack. Christ, what a train wreck that movie is.
Nikki Volpicelli, WW music writer:
It was 1997 and I was 10 years old. I didn’t like boys yet, or so I thought, until I saw Leo dressed up in rags and wearing that shaggy bowl cut. The part that really got to me was that iconic scene where the old man and woman lay peacefully on the bed that’s floating above water and they’re holding hands, accepting their fate. It got to me and it got to the 80-year-old man beside me, who was farting so loud it sounded like mini tubas muffled by seat cushions. I told myself I wouldn’t cry, but I did. I cried like a baby or a 10-year-old girl. And as the old man beside me continued to pass his iceberg-sized gas, I cried a little more.
SEE IT: Titanic 3D is rated PG-13. It opens Wednesday at Lloyd Center, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Cinetopia Mill Plain, Cornelius, Pioneer Place, Bridgeport, City Center, Evergeen, Hilltop, Sherwood, Tigard, Willsonville and Sandy.