By Andrew Magee

Whatever you may think about James Cameron, two things are certain. One: he has created the two biggest box office smashes in film history. And two: the man knows how to use 3D.

Though Avatar may have lacked in story (unobtanium being my personal favourite face-palm moment), it undoubtedly made up for with pioneering visual effects, jaw-dropping 3D and some of the most spectacular battle sequences ever committed to film.

Now the man behind the big blue aliens is ready to re-release his other monster hit, only this time with added dimensions.

Titanic is arguably the biggest film of all time. 3D tickets bumped up Avatar’s box office takings, but Titanic stood alone, with thousands revisiting the film multiple times at the multiplex.

Producer Jon Landau worked with Cameron on both films, and the revered movie-man is in London to promote Titanic and to show off some scenes in 3D. And, rest assured, it looks very good.

“If we were to make this film today, this is how we would make it,” said Landau in a post-preview Q&A.

“We’re doing this because there’s a whole generation of movie goers who have never seen this on the big screen. Why do we still go to the theatre? Because people want to see films there. It’s something special.

“My son was eight when he gave Prince Charles the programme at the Royal premiere. He saw this film a couple of years ago and said, ‘Dad, that’s a great movie.’ We want to bring it back for people who didn’t get to experience it in theatres the first time round.

“There might even be people who go to see this movie now who are 15 years old and were conceived the night their parents saw this movie. It’s all about giving people the choice of how they want to see things and how to watch entertainment and we want to drive people out of their homes and back into theatres.”

The idea to adapt Titanic was first discussed in 2000, and the film’s 3D conversion has taken over 60 weeks, the whole picture carefully scrutinised frame by frame. The results are spectacular.

Crowd scenes before the ship’s departure are deep and buzz with life, while cold, water-filled corridors disappear into the distance as Rose searches the sinking ship. Its demise into the murky depths is colossal, strongly benefitting from the added dimension. Even the undeniably soppy ‘I’m flying, Jack’ scene on the ship’s bow is actually rather beautiful. Women at the preview freely admitted to weeping.

It’s this attention to detail in the conversion process that is key for Landau.

“It’s important that it’s not just a technical project. It is an artistic project and it’s important that it it’s done with the filmmaker and how he wants it, because it’s still a creative practice, not just a simple conversion.

“For us the scenes where 3D is least important are the action scenes, and the more difficult ones are those with more detail in, like the dining room. But it’s been a labour of love. It’s like bumping into an ex who you are now friends with.”

Other than the 3D conversion, nothing has been changed from the original. Yet cynics will say its re-release is purely an exercise in money-making, an idea that Landau defends.

“First of all we are in a business. What’s wrong with filling a theatre with people, selling tickets and selling popcorn?

“We are being upfront about what we are doing, but we are the ones spending $18m on this and taking that risk. Nobody knows how it will be received.

“The 2012 date was always the date that made sense. It’s the perfect opportunity to do this. Every time someone talks about the boat, or the centenary anniversary it means they say the name of our movie, so we are pretty happy.”

Titanic will undoubtedly be a smash at the box office second time round, even if it does not reach the dizzy heights of the first release.

But for Landau, this has nothing to do with the gimmick of 3D and is more about the film’s universal appeal.

“I think we are all looking for true love. We want to find that special person but at the same time we are all forced to face death and that combination is what drives the film.

“It’s also about Rose’s story and it shows that no matter what is going on with us, if Rose can go on after losing the love of her life, then so can we.

“It’s also a film about the hubris of technology – it’s not the answer to all of our worries. In some ways there was this iceberg in front of them that they could not avoid because they ignored all the warnings and it’s kind of a modern metaphor for us. How long are we going to ignore the signs around us?

“I look at Titanic and it feels different to anything else that is out there. Jim’s films have always been about the audience. They explore themes that are bigger than their genre and if you have great movies with themes that are universal, then they play anywhere.”

Titanic will be released in 3D and 2D on April 6.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.