titanic im flying scene

The Best Movie Ever: "Titanic"

Ever heard of ‘comfort films?’ Films that make you feel better when you’re blue and staring at the ceiling for hours on end? For me, Titanic is the best comfort film. It has everything: melodrama, romance, class conflict, teenage rebellion, fabulous costumes, disaster, history, comedy, and even has an iconic theme song. (Thank you, Canadian icon Céline Dion, for the masterpiece that is “My Heart Will Go On.”)

For those of you who have never seen or heard of Titanic (which I don’t think is even possible given its pop culture relevancy), let me give you a brief synopsis. Set on the R.M.S. Titanic during its final voyage in 1912, an aristocratic young woman named Rose falls in love with Jack, a lower-class, free-spirited artist. Despite the fact that Rose is engaged to someone else, they galavant around the ship and enjoy being young, wild, and free. Approximately two days into their love affair, disaster strikes as the boat hits an iceberg. The rest is history (literally) and the ship sinks.

My first experience watching Titanic happened by accident. I was 9, and woke up super early one morning because I couldn’t sleep. I turned on the TV, and the movie happened to be about an hour into its insanely long run time of 3 hours and 15 minutes. Immediately, I was transfixed. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio (who I will from now on refer to as ‘young Leo’) have so much chemistry that you can’t look away. 

My little 9-year-old heart could not take the melodrama nor the disaster of the ship sinking, and I cried for hours after it finished. The romance! The devastation! All of it was simply too much for me. To be honest, it’s still too much for me. I felt like I had lived through something seriously draining. And yet, I felt a burning desire to watch it again. 

What makes Titanic a good comfort film? First, let’s break down the criteria for what constitutes a comfort film, at least in my eyes: 

  1. It must be an immersive escape. I want to feel like I am being swept up in a whirlwind romance, while in reality I’m eating Hot Cheetos in my pajamas alone at 2:00 a.m. 

  2. It can’t be complicated. Comfort films are not about logic and reason; hey are about emotion. I don’t want to be pondering the meaning of life while I’m trying to decompress. 

  3. It must be somewhat predictable. The role of a comfort film is to make us feel better. For me, this means little to no stress about what will happen next. I want a film that I know will have a happy ending, but I’ll also settle for a bittersweet ending. 

  4. It’s immediately rewatchable. This is the ultimate marker of a good comfort film, and what I have coined the ‘Easy A Effect’ as I once watched Easy A three times in a row after a particularly bad day in Grade Eight.

  5. It should be relaxing. By the end of the movie, all real life problems should feel non-existent. 

So how does Titanic stack up in this list? 

  1. Immersion: Say what you will about Titanic, but you can’t say it’s not entertaining. Apparently the movie cost just over $1 million per minute to make, and I believe that money was well spent. The boat! The costumes! The greenscreen sunsets! It’s like I can feel the Atlantic ocean breeze running through my hair while young Leo holds my hands in his. However, the most immersive part of the movie is the second half. Yes, the romance is a nice fantasy to live in for a while, but the disaster is what makes this film feel like an escape. It makes Rose’s decisions seem more plausible because the stakes are so high, and we empathize and relate to her because of this. 

  2. Uncomplicated: Listen, I understand that a tragic, real life event is depicted in this movie. You can totally make the argument that this is a complicated film due to the class conflicts and gender dynamics at play. That’s valid! I doubt anyone is watching Titanic for its realistic depiction of aristocracy in the early 20th century though. It’s all about the melodrama, baby. A forbidden love affair between star crossed lovers on a doomed sea voyage? That is exactly the type of content that requires little to no brain power, but it will definitely pull at your heart strings. 

  3. Predictability: Titanic is fairly predictable. Sorry to state the obvious, but we all know that the boat sinks before we click play. The star crossed lovers trope is fairly predictable as well. What I didn’t expect was *spoiler alert* Jack’s death? 9-year-old me was devastated. 22-year-old me feels this ending a bit differently, and I like it now - it’s bittersweet. Rose goes on to live her life to the fullest, and we’re happy for her. 

  4. The Easy A Effect: Even though this movie is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, I would definitely rewatch it immediately. If I have nothing else to do and it brings me immense joy, why not? 

  5. No problems: I would say that this movie makes me forget about my problems. After watching Rose and Jack go through a traumatic event like that, how could my problems even compare? 

In short, Titanic is an excellent comfort film. I don’t know about you, but I can really use some comfort right now. Maybe this is the film we need to get us through both exam season and COVID-19. I know I’ll never let go of my feelings for this film, and for the joy and devastation it brings me whenever I watch young Leo turn around at the top of the staircase in those final moments. My heart will go on (after I cry for a solid 30 minutes).