Tag Archives: Titanic

Titanic (1997)

Despite the fact that the wreck of the RMS Titanic fascinated me as a child, James Cameron’s Titanic is a movie that I never bothered to see. My parents never spoke of it, we didn’t own it, and we never watched it when it came on TV, but I read about the Titanic itself at every opportunity I got; I recently found a book about the discovery of the wreck that I had bought at a book fair back in elementary school. In case you didn’t know, the 100th anniversary of the disaster was on April 14/15 of this year (2012), and James Cameron re-released Titanic in 3D to commemorate the anniversary. I decided that it was about time that I finally saw it, so I watched it for the first time 100 years to the day after the sinking of the ship…and I was astounded at how good it was.

While most of the talk about this film focuses on Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet), where Titanic succeeds the most is in its historical context and accurate (at the time it was made) representation of the disaster. Cameron even recreated famous pictures onscreen, such as the following picture of a boy playing with a spinning top and the subsequent still from the movie:

It’s little details like this that make me so appreciative a film that is otherwise considered a romance. Cameron does a fantastic job with highlighting the contempt between social classes on board, both before the disaster and during the sinking. We witness both the best and the worst of the rich, with some, such as Cal Hockley, assuming that his social status endows him with certain privileges, and others, such as Isador and Ida Strauss, dying together in bed so that they may stay with each other and so that others may take their spots in the lifeboats. We see the remorse that Thomas Andrews feels because he “didn’t build…a stronger ship,” and the regret felt by Captain Edward Smith at not having been more cautious. The most poignant moment in the film is when the musicians play “Nearer My God to Thee” as we see destruction, hopelessness, and death occurring in the ship’s final moments.

I know that some may argue that Jack and Rose are the focus of this film, and I won’t disagree that their story is key to its success. Leonardo DiCaprio’s charisma as Jack is engrossing, and it’s his performance that drives much of the film. I sympathize with Rose in her situation with her mother and her fiance, and by the end of the film I am emotionally invested in the relationship between her and Jack. Through this unlikely pair we are given several life lessons: to “make each day count” and that love transcends money and social classes.

This is a film that I fully expected to dislike, but seeing it on the big screen for the first time is an experience that I will never forget. It’s an engaging historical drama and a passionate romance film, mixed with outstanding visuals and a gorgeous score by James Horner. Judge me all you want, but Titanic is one of my all-time favorites.

-Chad

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language


The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – James Horner

I bought this soundtrack last night before the midnight premiere but didn’t start listening to it until I got home after the movie had ended, and I’ve been listening to it on and off throughout today.

You’ll recall that last week I bought and listened to Danny Elfman’s scores for the first two Spider-Manfilms and was slightly disappointed with their lack of originality and similarities to Elfman’s previous Batmanscores, minus the Main Theme, of course, which is fantastic. I was hoping that James Horner’s score to the newly-released reboot film The Amazing Spider-Man would be much better, more original, and just overall better than Elfman’s, and, for the most part, it is.

I have to be honest right off the bat: Elfman’s Spider-Man theme is the better of the two. That’s not to say that Horner’s isn’t great, but it just doesn’t have the same sort of underlying excitement to it. However, in almost every other respect, Horner’s score runs laps around Elfman’s.

****EDIT****

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack as I’ve typed this…Horner’s theme is growing on me more and more. I’m not sure if I like one more than the other, but I’m starting to see the two on a more even level now, and Horner’s may soon become my favorite of the two…give them both a listen and see what you think!

************

You might have realized by now that it bothers me when a composer’s score to one film sounds too similar to another score that he composed. I listened intently to Horner’s score, listening for hints of Titanic or Avatar…admittedly, those are the only two previous James Horner scores that I have exposure to. Fortunately, I didn’t hear either of those in The Amazing Spider-Man…with the exception of one or two moments. For example, about 31 seconds in to “The Ganali Device” sounds a bit similar to excerpts from Horner’s score to Avatar, but it’s not as similar as a Zimmer or Elfman score would be, so it’s forgivable.

I read somewhere online where Marc Webb chose Horner to compose for The Amazing Spider-Man because he wanted something with “both grandeur and intimacy” [found here]. The more I listen, the more I feel that that is the perfect description for this soundtrack. There are plenty of big moment that are fitting of the character, such as in “Saving New York” and “Oscorp Tower”, but there are also the smaller, more personal moments between Peter and family/Gwen/himself, as heard in “Secrets”, “Rooftop Kiss”, and “I Can’t See You Anymore”. Whereas Elfman’s score would often go for excitement over emotion, Horner’s has a pleasant mix of both that better captures the darker, more relationship-based world that director Marc Webb has envisioned for The Amazing Spider-Man.

Overall, Horner’s score is a score more appropriate for a Spider-Man film than Elfman’s. It enhances the world that Marc Webb created for our webbed hero in blue and red, and it does this all while sounding distinctly original and independent, something that is always refreshing in this market dominated by composers like Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman. For something different and exciting, check out James Horner’s score to The Amazing Spider-Man.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

1.”Main Title – Young Peter”  4:54

2. “Becoming Spider-Man”  4:16

3. “Playing Basketball”  1:22

4. “Hunting for Information”  2:07

5. “The Briefcase”  3:14

6. “The Spider Room – Rumble in the Subway”  3:20

7. “Secrets”  2:30

8. “The Equation”  4:22

9. “The Ganali Device”  2:28

10. “Ben’s Death”  5:41

11. “Metamorphosis”  3:04

12. “Rooftop Kiss”  2:34

13. “The Bridge”  5:15

14. “Peter’s Suspicions”  3:01

15. “Making a Silk Trap”  2:52

16. “Lizard at School!”  2:57

17. “Saving New York”  7:52

18. “Oscorp Tower”  3:22

19. “I Can’t See You Anymore”  6:50

20. ”Promises – End Titles” 4:52

Total Length – app. 78 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

P.S. – Read my review of the film here!