FOUR STARS - Inspiring
The prideful belief that the Titanic could not sink caused the loss of 1,500 souls due to the lack of sufficient lifeboats.
But this arrogance also caused the disaster which would not only challenge our faith in our own technology, but make us aware of deep-seated prejudice and pridefulness that is even more destructive to our collective survival than just the loss of a great ship.
With perceptive insight, the creators of the film “Titanic” allow us to understand the struggles of pre-World War I society. The prejudice of the class system, with its locked gates keeping the third-class poor imprisoned within the bowels of the ship while the life boats are filled on deck with the wealthy, is only a microcosm of the economic and political barricades which keep the third world and “lower class” poor from their chance to survive in the larger society.
What is necessary if any of us are to thrive spiritually and not just survive physically and selfishly at the expense of others is for the rich and poor, the haves and have-nots, and the first world and the third world to connect with one another as human beings and love one another at such a depth that we are willing to give our lives so the other can live.
Though this ancient answer was given by Jesus many millennia ago and is known by most of us intellectually, “Titanic” allow us to experience it emotionally in the experiences of Rose and Jack.
Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is the rich daughter of a prejudiced “first class” passenger. Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a poor “third class” passenger whose place in life is clearly “beneath” her, both socially and nautically.
But Rose is also living an imprisoned life. Her mother’s addiction to wealth has manipulated Rose into a love-less engagement with a wealthy and abusive man named Cal Hockley (Billy Zane).
Feeling trapped and seeing no way out, Rose contemplates jumping off the back of the Titanic to her death. Jack, seeing her distress comes to her in her pain and explains that if she jumps, then he too will have to jump to save her.
Although this seems unlikely for a stranger to have such a commitment to her wellbeing, Jack means what he says and this is the beginning of transformation within her life.
For the first time Rose is seen and loved for who she is and her thoughts, dreams and hopes come to be shared with another.
This is the problem with the “Titanic” and the world as a whole. Although the ship has been proclaimed as the “Ship of Dreams,” there is no sharing of those dreams. Among the various passengers, from the owner of the vessel whose dream is to break the record for crossing the Atlantic, to the immigrant families who are coming to America to begin a new life, there is no commitment to a larger dream for the wellbeing of all of the people aboard ship.
When disaster strikes, as it inevitably does, there is no connection between the people that allows for a larger dream to be realized.
Symbolic of a committed, trusting love which causes people to give their lives for others, Jack and Rose face the disaster together.
With some of the most expensive and impressive special effects ever put on film, we experience with Jack and Rose the loss of their “world.” The unforeseen iceberg which gouges the lower decks eventually overtakes the entire vessel and all of the decks, upper and lower class, are submerged in icy north Atlantic ocean.
Rose, though she has the privilege of upper class and is given a place in a lifeboat that would ensure her own survival, relinquishes her privilege in order to fight with Jack for his survival.
Jack, having more experience at surviving, is able to see Rose through the experience and enable her to live out their mutual dreams, although he dies so that she can live.
The lessons of the “Titanic” are of such a human nature that it speaks directly to the soul. Though we may be able to survive we will never thrive as a people or as individuals until we learn how to love with a commitment that is able to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others.