15 years after James Cameron‘s unbelievable gamble paid off by becoming the biggest movie ever (at the time), Titanic is finally seeing release on Blu-Ray. After spending so much time digitally remastering the original print in order to re-release the film in 3D earlier this year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make this pristine transfer of Cameron’s masterpiece available on home video in the highest quality possible. And, of course, Cameron does not disappoint – this is unarguably the finest release the film has ever received, and is an absolute must-have for fans of both the film and the filmmaker.
The transfer is fantastic. For a movie that’s almost 15 years old, Cameron’s epic juggernaut looks as if it were released yesterday. Shot on film stock (naturally), there is an understandable level of grain apparent in the picture quality, but it’s far from distracting. If anything, it simply further enhances the vintage feel of the picture, and keeps it from looking too “contemporary” – which is, of course, a good thing when you’re spending almost all of your time in the early 20th century. Modernists may have wished that there was more grain and noise-reduction performed on the print, but they would do well to remember Cameron’s previously infamous dabbling in the process when he restored some of his earlier films. The grain is appropriate, and the picture quality is as strong as one might hope for in a restoration.
The audio is even better. Encoded in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the soundtrack for the film pops in suitably grandiose fashion, feeling appropriately dynamic and powerful whether Rose and Jack are sharing a quiet moment of the entire ship is ripping in two. Cameron has done a wonderful job capturing the audio from his film and reproducing it for a home theater setting. You can practically feel the ground shake when the ship becomes to split asunder, and the cries of the passengers are immersive and realistic. Titanic has not looked or sounded this good since it hit theaters in the late-’90s.
Purists will be happy to know that every single special feature from all of the previous releases of the film are fully intact: that’s hours and hours of behind-the scenes features spread over 60 featurettes and a whole host of videos covering every aspect of the production, from pre- all the way through to post. Even the multiple commentary tracks are preserved, though it is unfortunate that no new reunion track could be recorded with the cast and crew. And as an even greater incentive to pick up the new set, Cameron and co. have produced two new (almost) full-length documentaries covering the film from a historical and personal retrospective vantage point.
The first, Reflections on Titanic, is sure to please hardcore fans of the franchise, as it is essentially a celebratory look back on the various aspects of the film-making process. Divided into four parts, the hour-long documentary explores Titanic‘s place within the industry as it was gearing up for production, as it was approaching its inevitable release, its incredible run in theaters and the period between then and now. The second documentary, Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron, is a technically and historically fascinating dissection of all of the ship’s mysteries as Cameron gathers the world’s leading experts to provide a final, definitive answer (to the best of their understanding) of what, exactly, happened on the day that the unsinkable ship sank. This hour-and-a-half look at the Titanic’s end is coupled with in-depth interviews, complex simulations and heated discussions as the expert team tries to get to the bottom of the idiosyncrasies of the ship’s demise.
Ultimately, this is the definitive release for one of the biggest, most successful films ever made. It looks beautiful, it sounds beautiful, and it gives you unprecedented access into the making of Titanic and how it has affected the landscape of cinema since its release. A must-buy for fans and cinema lovers. ~Devin Garabedian