Skylar and Lokesh explore an all-time classic: Titanic. Have you ever thought about the theme of the class divide, the parallels to the actual sinking, or how the music impacts the film?
B: Hey guys, it’s journsplit again! I’m Skylar.
A: And I’m Lokesh.
B: and today we’re gonna be talking about Titanic! Here’s a TLDR of the movie.
A: A seventeen-year-old aristocrat, Rose Dewitt Bukater, falls in love with a kind, poor artist, Jack, aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic, which, as we all know, sank.
B: In the 1990s, treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his crew are searching for a diamond necklace rumoured to have sunk with the Titanic. They consult an aged Rose as it was given to her by her ex-fiance, Cal Hockley in 1912.
A: I felt really bad for Rose in that scene near the beginning of the movie. The guys looking for the necklace are greedy and are only being nice to Rose because she can help them find it.
B: The way they talk about the sinking of the Titanic is super disrespectful, but we can’t really blame them for it either. We often make jokes or offhand comments about horrible events that happened in the past because we haven’t experienced it first-hand. That detachment makes us insensitive too, don’t you think?
A: Yeah, I guess so. Oh, can we please talk about the music in this movie?? Especially in the flashback transition! When we see the titanic at the bottom of the ocean, we hear piano with really soft orchestra which is like, kinda melancholy, then as the old, rusted shipwreck fades away to show us what it looked like before, the music swells and gets louder – a drum starts up and the rest of the orchestra begins to get louder.
B: The music is really cool! In the beginning of that scene, it gives us the feel of being alone/ thinking of things that are already gone, but then it gets livelier, with the whole orchestra playing the same notes together, and then trumpet fanfare, as the camera pans over the bustling Southampton docks where the Titanic is preparing to set sail.
A: Mhm! Later on in the movie, there is also a really cool, abrupt transition from the upper-class passengers’ dinner to the lower class passengers’ party! The loud brassy music is more fun, free and wild than the soft classical music, and this is just one of many instances in the movie where the scene just wouldn’t be the same without the music.
B: Speaking of the upper-class and lower-class passengers, class divide is a recurring theme in this movie. Before boarding the ship, third class passengers have to undergo a health inspection to make sure they are not carrying infectious diseases, but first-class passengers like Rose, her mom and her fiance can simply sweep past everyone onto the ship via a priority queue.
A: In another scene that showcases class divide, the dogs belonging to the first-class passengers are taken to the lower decks for a walk, an irish passenger says, ‘first-class dogs come down here to-’ um- he used a rude word that meant ‘defecate’. And Jack adds, “It lets us know where we rank in the scheme of things.”
B: Yeah, that was pretty hilarious. And when Jack saves Rose’s life (which you’ll have to watch the movie to learn more about) and is invited to one of the upper-class dinners as thanks, almost no one at the party has a problem with Jack because they don’t know he’s not rich.
A: Exactly! He puts on a suit and suddenly they see him as an equal, even though many of them wouldn’t have given him the same respect had they encountered him in his normal shabbier clothing.
B: Another character in whom you can clearly see the theme of class divide is Molly Brown, who is ‘new money’ – she has only recently come into her wealth. In one scene, she wears a darker blue, while the other ladies wear lighter colours and more elaborate hats. This clearly sets her apart and makes her seem all the more different, not to mention all the gossiping the other ladies do behind her back.
A: Moving swiftly on to after the titanic has already taken a hit and is starting to fill with water. The lower-class stokers and firemen literally almost drown and the rich are still strolling around. You can see that the lower class cabins are flooded but the upper class cabins are unaffected, and the worst the rich folks have to deal with so far is a ‘shudder’ – it’s rather symbolic, isn’t it? Whenever any disasters happen, it’s always the lower class that gets hit first and hardest, while the upper class are still ignorant of what’s happening.
B: Mhm. Another good example of this is the scene where the first-class passengers are being seated in the lifeboats. Rose’s mother is still worrying about whether the seating will be divided by class and she is not taking the situation seriously. Rose tells her to ‘shut up!’ and says ‘Don’t you understand? The water is freezing and there aren’t enough boats, not enough by half. Half the people on this ship are going to die.” And Cal (her fiance, in case you don’t recall) has the audacity to add “Not the better half”.
A: He is truly despicable, but at least we get some satisfaction out of a moment later in the scene where Rose spits in his face.
B: As the movie goes on, the Titanic, of course, sinks. HUGE SPOILER ALERT: Jack dies of hypothermia, but Rose is rescued along with the other survivors by the Carpathia. She gives her name as Rose Dawson (Jack’s surname, for those of you who don’t know!). As a result, her family, fiance (and the rest of the world, actually) assume that she didn’t survive the sinking. She presumably goes on to live a life free from the restrictions of aristocracy, and it’s implied she gets to ride a horse astride like Jack said he’d teach her to!
A: In a flash forward to the present, Rose throws that diamond, the one that started the entire story (which she kept all this time) into the ocean. She was bidding a final goodbye to Cal because she was leaving the world soon after and she knew that she could only die after she confided in someone about Jack.
B: The way they had her die was also really poetic. She still died an old lady warm in her bed (just like Jack said she would!), but on a ship at sea. There’s a lot of legend/literature that the afterlives for those who die at sea and on land are different so it’s cool that she died at sea so they can be together. The beautiful final scene shows their reuniting in a hall on the Titanic, where everyone who died is gathered in a sort of ‘heaven’, regardless of class. It’s really moving and tear-jerking – I cried watching it.
A: Speaking of moving endings, did you know that the elderly couple in the room were based on a real couple who put their maid on a lifeboat and decided to stay together in their bed till the end? Some people think that the old couple were Isidor Strauss and his wife, Ida. They were the owners of Macy’s department store, which is still running today in America! Also, Molly Brown is based on a real woman who was called the Unsinkable Molly Brown. She helped in the ship’s evacuation, taking an oar herself in her lifeboat and urging that the lifeboat go back and save more people, but was unsuccessful. After being rescued by the Carpathia, she organised a survivors’ committee with other first-class survivors, which worked to secure basic necessities for the second and third-class survivors and even provided informal counseling.
B: It’s so interesting how they married fiction with actual historical figures!
A: …And that’s all we have for today!
Rei voiceover: Look out for our next episode on Frozen 2!