|A scene from Titanic with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. (Handout)
James Cameron originally pitched his shipwreck melodrama as "Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic" "and as "the perfect unsolved murder mystery."
Now, 15 years after it set box-office records (since surpassed by Avatar), Cameron is still talking about the movie, which also made Academy Awards history with 14 noms and 11 Oscars. He does so with enthusiasm. "Look," he explains in an exclusive interview from Los Angeles, "I think the film does hold up well."
There is something new to talk about, too, in the 100th anniversary year of the disaster. Fresh from a successful theatrical run that added $344 million to its worldwide box office, Titanic 3D debuted this week on Blu-ray. It is available in an excellent four-disc box. The 3D version is spread over two discs. Another Blu-ray has the restored movie in 2D, looking cleaner, sharper than ever. Disc four has a wealth of bonus materials, including two major documentaries totalling two hours, 40 minutes. The docs, Reflections on Titanic and Titanic: The Final Word, delve into the history of the real Titanic and of Cameron's $200-million production.
A separate 2D box set is available as a combo pack combining Blu-ray, DVD, digital copy and the extras. But, if you ever plan to upgrade to home 3D, Titanic 3D: Limited Edition is a good excuse to plan for the future. Cameron, however, is disappointed in how slow home 3D is growing -- either as live broadcasting or for playing 3D discs.
"The roll-out to broadcast ubiquity is going a little slower than I had hoped, but I think a couple of small changes in the consumer electronics technology is going to accelerate it. The first being when they get high-quality HD, glasses-free TV screens, which I think is going to happen at the tablet and laptop level first before it happens on the bigger screens."
Cameron is a pioneer of modern 3D technology through the Cameron Pace Group. But converting Titanic from 2D to 3D for the 2012 re-release was different than shooting Avatar in 3D. Initially, he had to get past actually looking at his 15-year movie.
"I think it's a little jarring at first to see Kate and Leo so young," he says of co-stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. She was 22, he was 23, when Titanic was released. "But I actually think, in a funny way, it serves the film because Rose and Jack have become just Rose and Jack, not Kate and Leo as Rose and Jack. They kind of exist outside of time now."
As a story, Titanic still resonates. "You know, I'm not that different a person so my artistic impulses are not that different," he said of his populist approach, which riles critics and pleases audiences. "I don't cringe when I watch the movie."
Cameron also refused to mess with Titanic, other than the 3D conversion and tweaks. "I resisted the urge to change anything because I figured the 3D offered an interesting one-time possibility to 're-invent' the movie enough that it could essentially be re-released, re-marketed afresh, and yet not really do anything artistically that was fundamentally different. So that's kind of unique. Because, normally, to bring something back to market years later, you have to add value, which usually means editing it, putting scenes back in. Now you've essentially muddied the waters of what that film is."
He admitted there were special effects he would have liked to upgrade. "But when do you stop? So I just made a decision not to change anything, other than little repairs here and there."
So Titanic is still intact as you remember it, in either 3D or 2D. And it has never looked better for the Titaniacs.