Epic romance. Action. Mind-blowing effects. Leonardo DiCaprio. Titanic is nothing if not a crowd-pleaser. Hey, a movie doesn’t become the highest-grossing flick of all time (for a while, at least) by only appealing to teenage girls. This weekend, AMC gives you multiple chances to see exactly what’s great about Titanic with Can’t Get Enough Titanic, which airs the blockbuster on Jul. 2 and 3, at 8PM | 7C and 12:30PM | 11:30C. In the meantime, you surely have your own reasons for loving Titanic. Here are ten good ones, for starters.
10. The Death of an Evil Billy Zane
Zane isn’t your typical bad guy. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a character more loathsome than his Cal, the arrogant fiancé of Rose (Kate Winslet). This guy’s a first-class jerk, a spousal abuser, and an all-around bully. He’s such a scumbag — and Zane plays him with such relish — that when he kills himself in the movie’s epilogue you’ll inevitably cheer.
9. Hyperrealistic Special Effects
Typical of the work of director-writer-producer-editor James Cameron, Titanic‘s special effects break boundaries. Cameron’s use of emerging digital technology and his own resourceful creations — like a full-size set of the ship that tilts — make for something truly extraordinary. The real-life tragedy of the ship snapping in two is replicated with stunning exactitude.
8. The Most Anti-Nostalgic Moment in a Nostalgic Film
Nostalgia powers Titanic. Hell, the premise is Rose reminiscing about her voyage on the ship to treasure hunters in search of a valuable necklace that belonged to Cal. But after telling her story, Rose, it turns out, has the necklace and rather than give it up secretly throws it — nostalgia be damned! — right into the ocean, in the movie’s most triumphant scene. The act seems to free her, once and for all, to enjoy her memories of Jack (DiCaprio).
7. “My Heart Will Go On”
Everything about Titanicwas huge, even the music — specifically, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” the flick’s signature ballad. The song kept the soundtrack at No. 1 on the charts for a whopping sixteen weeks and proved inescapable for anyone who listened to radio, went on an elevator, or attended a drag show. As ubiquitous theme songs go, this track has few rivals.
6. Ghosts of the Abyss
How many movies spawn a documentary? But the unlikely spin-off Ghosts of the Abyss gave fans even more of the fascinating backstory and eerie views of the sunken ship. The footage, shot from incredible angles and shown in Imax 3-D, are awe inspiring. Required viewing for any real Titanic fan.
5. “I’m the King of the World!”
The movie’s most famous line, which Jack exclaims from the ship’s stern, caught on like wildfire. Who wouldn’t want to stand on a giant ship, feeling like he or she owns the world? AFI even named it one of the top 100 movie quotations of all time. Ironically, the line caused James Cameron himself a little trouble when he shouted it while holding an Oscar aloft. Arrogant? Definitely. Justified? Well, yes, that too.
4. Disaster-Movie Theatrics
Cameron criticized other depictions as showing the Titanic slipping peacefully underwater. That’s not the case in Cameron’s movie, where the the final plunge is a long, traumatizing event that rivals anything from the massive tornadoes of Twister to the tidal wave of Deep Impact to the burning building of The Towering Inferno.
3. Young Kate Winslet
Before playing Rose, she was a relative unknown — despite an Academy Award nomination for Sense and Sensibility. But Titanic didn’t just catapult Winslet to stardom; her nude scene also made her a sex symbol. With all due respect to her Oscar-winning work in The Reader, Titanic remains Winslet at her best: part innocent in love, part tough independent woman. That’s as radical today as in 1912.
2. Younger Leonardo DiCaprio
How could you not love DiCaprio’s Jack? He’s the guy who lands the girl way out of his league, goes adventuring for the hell of it, wins his passage in a game of cards, and isn’t afraid of the rich guy with the gun. DiCaprio’s performance cemented him as the teen idol to end all teen idols but also set the stage for his celebrated serious roles in Gangs of New York and The Departed.
1. The Blockbuster, Redefined
In 1997, when you thought of a blockbuster, you thought Independence Day or The Terminator. And Titanic didn’t fit that sci-fi formula: Cameron described the movie as a version of “Romeo and Juliet — a period piece.” That doesn’t sound like a typical mass ticket-seller. Yet really all Cameron was doing was returning to the days of epic romances like Gone With the Wind and Lawrence of Arabia. They ruled the box office; Titanic did, too.