The film opens with a black screen and the very loud thud of a drum booming, maybe representing the certainty that in the film the ship will collide with an ice burg and be submerged. This creates a feeling of pressure and anticipation in the audience. There are also wide screen and vertical shots to create a larger atmosphere.
Straight away following this, the audience witnesses shots of the Titanic setting out on her maiden voyage from Southampton in 1912.We can see in gradual slow motion, the joyful, cheerful faces of men, women and children, waving goodbye some may be separating from loved ones. There are faces of hopefulness and suspense on their faces as they wave goodbye to their old worlds and look forward to their ‘New World’.
It is essential for the audience to realise that thee shot been shown are not a reconstruction, but rather genuine film footage. The fact that the recording is true affects the audience by reminding them that most of these cheerful, positive faces will by no means reach New York, but as an alternative will meet their death in the Atlantic Ocean hours later. The footage is in an old fashioned sepia wash, also reminding the viewers that even though this disaster happened in the last century, it is still considered to be of enormous historical significance.
Underscoring the footage of the departure scenes in Southampton, is incredibly dramatic, melancholy music, which has a memorable sense to it, possibly intentionally so, viewers that many of the passengers who lost their lives whilst on the ship, the Titanic were Irish immigrants, hopeful to falsify a fresh life in the ‘New World’.
As the camera now zooms in, the screen then turns dark blue, and it becomes more understandable to the viewers that what they are seeing is an enormous view of ocean. As the lingering piece of music draws up to a close, the screen is crammed with the word, TITANIC, in large white capitals. The viewers are under no false impression that this is the name of the film, but as well that the film will be a monument to the sinking of the ship and all who died or lived to tell a tale.
The camera now moves little by little downwards, as if it is moving slowly to the very bottom of the ocean. We are all of a sudden exposed to bright searchlights below in the sea, which gradually demonstrate that they are part of the costly machinery, sweeping the seabed, looking for ruins of Titanic. The viewers feel that there is a some kind of reason and that there maybe a fight among the ‘Old World’, signified by the wreckage, and the ‘New World’, of equipment and exploration, represented by the the equipment. We can hear the sounds of the machinery, eventually getting louder, almost like a heartbeat, maybe like the ‘Heart of the Ocean’ that equipment and the men who operate it, are trying to come across.
Though no matter how poor the conditions of the third class passengers James Cameron still managed to show they could still have as much fun. It shows this when the first class passenger Rose goes below decks to a third class party as guest of Jack.
The closing sequence opens with a close up of Rose, lying on the wooden door in the focal point of the Atlantic Ocean. Her face is covered in a blue bathe and her hair and face are covered in icy particles. This gives her character an uncanny, eerie quality, reminding the audience of the conditions around them in the Atlantic Ocean and what they may be faced with.
The last words Jack says to Rose were “You must promise me that you’ll survive. You won’t give up. No matter what happens. Don’t let go of that promise”. To me this gave me the impression that Jack knew deep inside himself he was going to die of hypothermia. It also gives the audience something to think about, will she choose to die in the ‘Old World’ or do as Jack says and fight to see the ‘New World’ through.
Rose then turns looking up at the stars as she sings a song Jack was singing previously in the film. She sings “Come Josephine, in my flying machine”. These words are very significant to her for one Jack was singing that the night she decided to start a new world with Jack and to leave Cal behind. Secondly the words mention flying for example flying away to her new world and she can take any direction she wanted because she is now free from Cal and her mother.
Suddenly her singing starts to fade away as it looks like she is loosing further consciousness. In the background there are then distorted voices of the men in the rescue boat and torchlight awaking Rose. This then makes the audience start to think will she get rescued or is she too weak to call for help.
Rose eventually fully regains consciousness as the bright lights distract her. Before she has realised Jack is dead the audience already knows this as he has not moved and he is covered in icy particles. The camera then focuses on the fact that Jack still has the handcuffs on and he has really sacrificed his own life to save someone he cares about.
Rose turns to Jack repeating several times “There’s a boat, Jack!” though after no signs of him been alive the audience knows he is dead as she has just realised at this point. The Titanic melody then starts to emphasize this great sadness and you can then see images of the rescue boat in the background.
After this point it looks like Rose has given up but then it comes to her what Jack’s last words were and she then decides to try and fight for her life. She then says, “Come back!” but her voice is very frail and hard to hear but then it becomes stronger and louder as she realises she wants to try and live. Rose then turns to Jack and says,”I’ll never let go-I promise”, she then kisses his hand then she let’s go off him as he then fades away into the ocean. The camera then focuses on Jack as this is final shot and the audience sees his body sink into the depths of the deep murky ocean.
Rose is then rescued and then young Rose then turns back into old Rose as she then goes on saying, “Twenty boats went into the water that night and only one came back. Fifteen hundred people went into the water that night and only six were saved, including me”. After her long detailed account of what had happened during her experience on the Titanic even those listening had tears in their eyes of the thought of the traumatic experience people had had to go through that night.
It then returns back to the ‘Old World’ of 1912 and it shows survivors as they wait for the rescue ship. When people get to rescue ship there still they are split into two halves ‘Steerage’ and ‘First Class’ decks. In an attempt to hide from Cal, Rose goes to the steerage deck. Though Rose sees Cal looking for her on the steerage deck she has already decided she does not want anything more to do with him anymore.
As the rescue ship arrives in America the Statue of Liberty is in the background with Rose infront. The Statue represents a new start and Rose now has freedom and she can take whichever path she wants with nobody in her way.
Now it shows the present and you can see that their views have changed by looking at facial expressions and tears in their eyes. No longer do they see Titanic as a money making scam but as a tragedy. “For three years I thought of nothing but Titanic, but I never got it! I never let it in!”. The man in charge of the salvage team has realised that there is more to Titanic than trying to salvage material from the wreckage.