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Titanic 20th anniversary: 10 reasons why it remains the biggest film ever

Still the king of the world, 20 years on (Picture: Twentieth Century Fox)
Titanic has now been surpa..

Titanic 20th anniversary: 10 reasons why it remains the biggest film ever
Still the king of the world, 20 years on (Picture: Twentieth Century Fox)

Titanic has now been surpassed by Avatar as the highest-grossing movie ever.

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But with 11 Oscars, an astonishing 15-week run at the top of the US box-office and a multi-million selling soundtrack to its name, James Cameron’s previous film arguably remains the most impactful Hollywood has ever produced.

20 years to the day that it first hit cinemas in the States, here’s a look at why the phenomenon that is Titanic managed to capture the public’s imagination in such a titanic way.

The sheer scale

Even those who sneer at its sappy central romance and occasionally ham-fisted acting (hello Billy Zane), have to admit that Titanic looks suitably spectacular from start to finish.

One of the last Hollywood blockbusters which had to build nearly everything from scratch, rather than simply rely on CGI, Cameron ensured that you could see nearly every cent of its whopping $200m budget on screen.


Some critics argued that a baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio was miscast as the lowly third-class passenger who sweeps Kate Winslet’s first-class socialite off her feet.

But it’s hard to imagine any of the other names reportedly touted for the role (Matthew McConaughey, Billy Crudup, Steven Dorff) whipping so many teenagers into such a frenzy as DiCaprio, who was already something of a pin-up after Romeo + Juliet.

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet in Titanic
ICON (Picture: Twentieth Century Fox)

While Leo brought the youthful charm, Winslet brought the class with a star-making performance which, unlike her co-star, was recognised with an Oscar nomination.

Then only 20 years old, Winslet imbues what is essentially a poor little rich girl character with a steely determination and genuine heart which ensured audiences cared about and believed in both her romance and her overall fate.

The love story

You could argue that a film about the real-life sinking of a ship which killed over 1500 people didn’t really need a fictional Mills and Boon-style love story planted in the middle of it to make people care.

But in a genre typically dominated by cardboard cutout characters, Jack and Rose’s romantic exploits at least gave audiences something to invest in before disaster struck.

The tearjerking moments

The old couple in bed waiting to die, the mother comforting her kids as the ship goes down, the violinists deciding to play on for one last song.

If Jack and Rose’s ill-fated love story left you cold, then Titanic still featured plenty of smaller tearjerking moments capable of turning you into a blubbering mess.

The theme tune

Okay, so Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On may have been ridiculously overblown and drowned in schmaltz but could such an epic blockbuster really have got away with anything else?

Following in the footsteps of Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do (I Do It For You) and Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, the power ballad sold millions of copies, topped the charts across the world and became a karaoke staple, serving as a brilliantly effective promotional tool in the process.

The score

In contrast to its main theme, the rest of James Horner’s soundtrack was surprisingly subtle.

Inspired by the Celtic New Age of Enya – who was initially approached to compose the soundtrack by James Cameron – the late composer produced a powerful and emotive score which perfectly complemented its surrounding tragic drama.

Something for everyone

Clocking in at a whopping 195 minutes, Titanic certainly had plenty of time to ensure that it offered something for everyone.

If disaster movies were your thing, then the entire second half was a masterclass in how to pull one off; if you preferred weepie romances, you had Jack and Rose’s central love story to fixate on; if period drama was your bag then you could marvel at all the extravagant costumes.

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Little wonder then that the film attracted such a wide audience, and perhaps more importantly, one which kept on coming back to the cinema to watch it again and again.

Its quotable script

‘I’m the king of the world,’ ‘I’m flying,’ ‘Iceberg right ahead.’

Titanic was full of quotable lines which instantly became a part of popculture, even if some were more unintentionally funny than profound (‘I want you to draw me like one of your French girls’).

The sinking

Whereas the first half of Titanic could be seen as fairly inconsequential, the second half is a jaw-dropping spectacle containing some of the finest action scenes of the 20th Century.

Indeed, from the moment the ship hits the iceberg, Titanic is impossible to look away from, whether it’s Rose jumping back on to the ship to find Jack, a gun-toting Cal chasing the lovestruck pair or, most impressively, the ship splitting into two and then hurtling its terrified passengers down into the sea.

The ending

Yes, we all knew that the Titanic sank, but Cameron ensured that there was at least one part of the film that would keep audiences guessing right until the end – would Jack and Rose survive?

Of course, only the latter made it to dry land, although the method in which she did so remains a talking point 20 years on (apparently there was enough room for both of them to fit on the floating door).

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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.

Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.

More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.

The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.

Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)

The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.

Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”

“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.
In a theater, the tendency with a movie so dependent on a central mystery might be to become antsy. At home, “Antebellum” is worth seeing, not only because of what it has to say about America’s past and present, but as a reminder of the often yawning gap between an intriguing idea and a fully realized film.

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‘Chemical Hearts’ director Richard Tanne on the film’s ‘bittersweet’ ending and what he hopes fans take away from the movie

“Chemical Hearts” director Richard Tanne spoke to Insider about the film’s “bittersweet” ending and ..

“Chemical Hearts” director Richard Tanne spoke to Insider about the film’s “bittersweet” ending and what he hopes fans take away from it.

“I think it’s gonna disappoint some people, and maybe all people on a certain level, ” the 35-year-old filmmaker told us. “It’s bittersweet. But that’s OK.”

The film, based on Krystal Sutherland’s 2016 book “Our Chemical Hearts” and now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, centers on 17-year-old high school senior Henry Page (Austin Abrams), who finds himself drawn to a mysterious and secretive new transfer student named Grace Town (Lili Reinhart).

“Chemical Hearts” is told from Henry’s perspective, chronicling his first heartbreak after he falls in love with the person he thinks Grace is.

Tanne, who wrote the screenplay, said that he was impressed by how the story goes ‘a little bit deeper than your average teen romance’

“I loved how it embraced the dark side of being young, the pain and the grief and the loss, the idea of crossing the threshold from being an adolescent to an adult for the first time,” he told us.

By the end of the movie, Henry learns about Grace’s tragic past. On their last day of senior year, the characters don’t end up together. Instead, they prepare to explore different futures, with Henry heading off to a school for writing and Grace taking a year off to continue therapy.

Even though fans might be disappointed by the love interests splitting, Tanne said that ‘not everything has to be escapist’

“Sometimes, younger people watching movies don’t know that it’s OK to have unhappy endings because they’re fed a steady stream, a steady diet of escapist happily ever after movies,” he told us. “And that’s OK.”

He added: “There’s a place for those, I’m not knocking them. But I just wanted to make something that didn’t talk down to the younger audience. I wanted to make something that either meets them at their level or asks them to reach a little bit higher or dig a little bit deeper.”

Tanne said that having to confront that ‘bittersweet ending’ could also be useful to viewers

The director described the conclusion as bittersweet because “there’s hope at the end, maybe not for their relationship, but for other aspects of their lives.”

“Maybe it will be helpful for young people to see that and walk away with the same sting that Henry has, but to know that it’s going to be OK, to know that Henry will be OK,” he said.

Abrams, who was 22 when he filmed the movie, told Insider that hopefully, audiences will empathize with Henry.

“I think in terms of I supposed how he’s navigating relationships, I feel like hopefully at least anyone can relate to that,” he said.

Abrams told Insider that Henry and Grace’s relationship status at the end speaks to the film’s realistic nature

Abrams shared similar sentiments as Tanne, telling us that they tried to “portray the characters as honestly as possible,” which ties in to the conclusion.

“I think there are some people that meet one person and that’s who they’re with for the rest of their lives, who actually are Henry’s parents in the movie,” the 23-year-old actor told us.

“But then there are other people, and I think it’s probably a larger number, that are going to be in multiple relationships and some of them, a lot of them aren’t going to go well. I hope that that’s an aspect of the movie that people are able to relate to.”

Abrams added that he’s “perfectly fine” letting fans decide for themselves what their main takeaways are from “Chemical Hearts.”

“I hope that maybe they take away things that I didn’t even think of, because everyone’s different and at a different point in their life and hopefully will be able to relate to it in different ways.”

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Julia Sawalha furious after being told she is ‘too old’

Julia Sawalha has said she has been “plucked, stuffed and roasted” after being told that she would n..

Julia Sawalha has said she has been “plucked, stuffed and roasted” after being told that she would not be cast in the forthcoming sequel to the hit Aardman Animation film Chicken Run as her voice sounded “too old”.

In the original film, released in 2000, Sawalha voiced the lead role of Ginger, the plucky hen who inspires her fellow egg-layers to escape from a farm when they are threatened with being turned into pies. News of the development of a sequel first emerged in 2018, and Netflixs involvement was announced in June. It is due to be directed by Sam Fell (ParaNorman) and start production in 2021.

Sawalha posted a statement on social media saying she was told a week ago that she was not wanted for the sequel. “The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds too old and they want a younger actress to reprise the role.”

She added: “Usually in these circumstances, an actress would be given the chance to do a voice test in order to determine the suitability of their pitch and tone, I however was not given this opportunity. I am passionate about my work and I dont go down without a fight, so I did my own voice test at home and sent it to the producers … However, they stated, We will be going ahead to recast the voice of Ginger.”

Sawalhas protest follows reports that Mel Gibson, who voiced the character of daredevil rooster Rocky, would not be involved in the sequel. While Rocky is named as a character in the official plot synopsis for Chicken Run 2, the role is due to be recast. Variety magazine reported that Gibson was told that as “the sequel will revolve around younger chickens, therefore casting younger voice actors” was necessary. The report also claimed that Gibsons history of controversial behaviour, including an accusation of antisemitic comments by actor Winona Ryder, which Gibson denies, played no part in the recasting.

Sawalha added: “I feel I have been fobbed off with the same excuse … To say I am devastated and furious would be an understatement. I feel totally powerless.”

No official announcements have been made for the Chicken Run 2 cast, but original film cast members Jane Horrocks and Lynn Ferguson have been added to the films IMDb page.

Aardman has been contacted for a response.


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