titanic (1)

25 years later, Titanic is still unsinkable

25 years ago, James Cameron released one of the biggest films of all time. Even in 2023, Titanic still feels unbeatable. 

25 years ago, James Cameron released one of the biggest films of all time. Even in 2023, Titanic still feels unbeatable. Released back in cinemas in 3D this week, we look at all the things that have made Titanic one of the most successful films in the history of cinema. 

The sinking of Titanic, the unsinkable ship, in 1912 remains one of the biggest tragedies of history. Not so much because of the death toll, but because it was completely avoidable. The ship sank due to human arrogance; they treated the ship as a work of perfection, created by Gods who had conquered death. There weren’t enough lifeboats and as the ship went down in the Atlantic, people froze to death or died from shock. 

All of this was brought to life by James Cameron, who now boasts three films in the top 5 of highest grossing films of all time list, including his epic romance set on a ship destined to sink. Arguably, Titanic was where it all started for the filmmaker. Although Titanic wasn’t Cameron’s first great film (that would be Aliens), it’s the one that made him the master of his craft.  It also won a whopping 11 Oscars, including Best Picture. 

titanic ship

Credit: 20th Century Studios

At a recent press conference, Cameron shed a light on why the film still resonates with people 25 years later, saying it’s story that “never seems to end for people.”

“It’s a reminder of what can happen when we put too much faith in technology and in our own intelligence.”

Cameron still believes in the power of his film and believes he would still be attracted to the story of not just Titanic the ship, but the love story right at the centre of it. 

Pitched as Romeo and Juliet on a ship, Titanic is first and foremost a love story. Perhaps one of the most romantic films ever made, the romance is only amplified by the tragedy. One specific part of the ending has divided audiences since 1997. 

titanic jack rose

Credit: 20th Century Studios

At the very end, the film’s central couple, Rose and Jack, are both in the icy waters. Rose climbs on a floating door, but it can’t support both their weight, leaving Jack in the water. He freezes to death and Rose has to let him go as she is rescued. 

For years, people have argued that the door could have supported them both, but Cameron has seemingly put an end to this by staging the whole scene and proving there was only the slimmest chance Jack could have survived. 

While the film certainly captured the audiences’ attention with its breathtaking recreation of the ship sinking and won over their hearts with the tragic love story at the time, Titanic has remained painstakingly relevant.

Cameron’s later work has been defined by his Avatar franchise, which also explores humanity’s arrogance and defiance against nature. 


Credit: 20th Century Studios

In Titanic, it’s a giant iceberg that brings down the unsinkable ship. In Avatar, humans have left Earth to seek a valuable mineral on Pandora, ruining the planet in the process. Cameron has very strong feelings about climate change as he compares Titanic’s narrative to the very natural disaster we are currently facing. 

“We’re facing another crisis called climate change.  We’ve been warned about it for years, we see it coming straight at us, we cannot turn the ship. It’s exactly like the freaking iceberg.”

He’s not wrong and perhaps this is exactly why Titanic still feels like a masterpiece. Cameron says he would use more CGI if he were to make the film now, but the film does still show a very relevant gap between the rich and the poor. 

“It was the rich people on Titanic, their impatience to get to New York, and the captain and the owner of the steamship line understanding that and responding to their rich client base that caused the wreck in the first place. Now we got the same damn thing playing out on a global stage with climate change.”

titanic kate winslet (1)

Credit: 20th Century Studios

Cameron also credits the film’s long-standing relevance to its inclusion of a strong female character. 

“What I think was really happening is that young women are at a point in their life in that kind of, you know, post-adolescent period, mid-teens where they’re being told by society not to be who they are. Do what male-dominated society expects and all that. This was a movie about Rose, Kate Winslet’s character, and her fulfilment as a person.”

Titanic also launched both Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as Hollywood’s biggest stars. DiCaprio especially became a major heartthrob and posters of Titanic were found in nearly every teenage girl’s bedroom in the late 90s. Not even Cameron could have predicted how DiCaprio’s career would unfold after Titanic

“Just because an actor has unlimited possibility doesn’t mean that they will go on to realize that, which he has done.”

titanic door

Credit: 20th Century Studios

It’s true; DiCaprio has gone on to have one of the most interesting careers in Hollywood and Kate Winslet isn’t any different. She recently reunited with Cameron for Avatar: The Way Of Water, another water-themed project for both. 

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what one element makes Titanic so magical, even 25 years later. It seems like the perfect film. Sure, the romance feels a little cheesy in today’s terms but there’s no denying just how impressive Titanic is, both emotionally and on a more technical level. 

The film serves as both a stark reminder of how fallible human beings are and what the price of arrogance is. Titanic is seemingly only matched by Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water in technical mastery, but as far as love stories go, Titanic is one of the greats and truly one of the best films of all time. 

Titanic is re-released in cinemas February 10. 

Leave a Reply

More like this