James Cameron: “Titanic’ was never born with the desire to sweep the box office” | Culture



In the early morning of April 14-15, 1912, the rms titanic collided with an iceberg and sank. 1,496 people of the 2,208 on board died. An ocean liner that had taken three years to build sank in two and a half hours, during her maiden voyage.

James Cameron, he recalls by video call, was impressed by that story “as a child, in the sixties”, not so much for itself as for the British film The last night of the Titanic (1958), which in exquisite black and white and spectacularly recreated that shipwreck. In 1985, explorer Robert Ballard found the wreck at a depth of 3,784 meters. Cameron felt the call. And, therefore, in 1997 he premiered Titanic, that 25 years later it is still the third highest grossing film in history (although it has only a few days left in that position, at the rate it is going Avatar: the sense of water, another Cameron product). Every five years, its director brings out something new related to the ship and its collision. This time he has re-released the film on the big screen, only in a 3D remastered version, and has starred in a documentary about the possible survival or not of the male lead of his drama. “Although I’m with other projects”, he tells from the New Zealand studios, where he continues filming the saga Avatar, “my passion for titanic It does not turn off”. For this reason, he has descended up to 33 times to the wreck. Nor the passion of the public. In its relaunch last week, it has raised 20.9 million euros worldwide, and in Spain it has earned 461,824 euros, only behind Avatar: the sense of water.

Recent image of the 'Titanic', sunk in 1912.
Recent image of the ‘Titanic’, sunk in 1912.

How much do those amounts matter to you? “This is not about money. It is important, of course, because it helps you face other projects in their fair share, and you have to satisfy investors, but titanic he was never born with the desire to be a success at the box office”, comments the filmmaker. In that 1997, Cameron was not the Cameron of today. First, he was considered a renowned science fiction and action director, but not a typical storyteller. And, therefore, with a limited audience. “I trusted my film, but those weeks in which it remained not only the highest grossing, but also increased its box office, as if it were wave after wave, they caught everyone’s attention.” And he laughs: “The box office matters to me because it means that the public enjoys what I do. Personally, I no longer need to earn more money. titanic it didn’t drop for a couple of months, and then came the nominations and the Academy Awards,” he says.

He won 11 Oscar statuettes in a ceremony in which an exacerbated cry of vindication escaped him on stage: “I am the king of the world!”, paraphrasing Jack, his male lead. “I was thinking this morning that actually, as an artist and a storyteller, I haven’t changed much. It may be that now I stress more my interests in the conservation of the environment, but then I was already worried”, says the filmmaker. “Twenty-five years later, I think titanic It can be seen as a metaphor for climate change, for the danger that surrounds us.”

James Cameron, on the set of the shipwreck of ‘Titanic’, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

To understand where his determination comes from, an anecdote about who, on the other hand, holds the record for the deepest individual dive in the Mariana Trench, with 10,908 meters, is useful. When another adventurer, Victor Vescovo, with whom he was a rival, dived around the wreckage of the liner, he emailed him, in a mocking tone: “I have seen titanic in it Titanic”. Cameron replied: “Okay, but I did titanic in it Titanic”. How could a 194-minute film succeed in which a star like Leonardo DiCaprio fell in love with a character played by a much lesser-known actress, Kate Winslet, who also moved away from the prototypical physique on the screen of the nineties to closer to what was seen on the street? “I understand that the general public is attracted to a certain idealization of romanticism that I enjoy, that passion between Jack and Rose. Actually, that mixture of passion and chaos had worked before in the cinema.

The influence of ‘Doctor Zhivago’

Cameron immediately jumps to mention what he considers the mother of his film: “In Doctor Zhivago, David Lean combines a wonderful love story with the Russian revolution and some spectacular shots”. EITHER Gone With the Wind: if inflation is factored in, this is the highest grossing movie of all time (behind Avatar and Titanic), and plays in the same league of entertainment and romance. “In my case, another personal motor was the attraction for what happened during those two and a half hours of the sinking. But in my approach to the cinema I understood that I had to handle a certain classicism, in that I was going to film a story that had occurred 80 years before. A bit in the style of the novels of the great Russian writers? “Before the iceberg appears, we spent two hours with the characters, building them, and their sentimental or friendship relationships; then the disaster movie part will come. But why do they remember her? Because it’s a love story.” And he remembers a rumor: “I remember when they said that all the teenagers in the world had seen the movie. And it was partly a lie, because the mathematics showed that other viewers were also watching it. Because titanic not the movie to see titanic it is the film that the public wants to experience with other people. The importance of love is that it confronts you with the mortality of the human being: we all love and we will all die. That’s why people repeat it. And at his 25 years we add another feeling: nostalgia. With whom and where did you see Titanic? Many want to recover that emotion”.

Sinking of the ‘Titanic’ in the movie.

Cameron went down to titanic… “because I needed it”. For a moment. “And I didn’t think it would go so well for the movie until I started shooting it. I realized that, since the visit to the wreck, I had stored in my unconscious, first, the actual size of the liner and, second, a commitment to the accuracy of what happened to the victims and in the accident.

Even so, over the years, and after new investigations, history clarifies that the ocean liner did not sink like it did on the screen (although Cameron limited himself to what was known at the time in the 1990s). “The fans have always been there, providing clues. Every day someone talks to me about titanic Or I receive a letter about Jack’s death”, he confirms about a debate dragged on for five decades: did DiCaprio’s character have to die? Could he have saved himself along with Rose? National Geographic has released the documentary Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron, in which he delves, among other considerations, on that dispute. “Narratively, I needed that death,” the filmmaker replies. In this special, possible scenarios of Jack’s final minutes have been recreated: the board with both raised would have sunk, with the bodies of the two semi-submerged they would also have died… and Jack only saves himself in a far-fetched carom. “We got to a situation where [con un chaleco y mucha suerte] it could have held out until a lifeboat arrived. Jack could have survived… but there are so many variables,” she argues. Most of the survivors of the shipwreck died of hypothermia in the frigid waters off Newfoundland: rescue did not arrive until two hours later. “From what I’ve seen, I should have filmed it with a smaller board,” she blurts out. Few jokes to Cameron with his Titanic.

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