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30 of the Most Notable Tom Cruise Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

rating of titanic movie

Released on May 27, Top Gun: Maverick has not only cemented Tom Cruise as a must-see action star, but broken multiple box office records, too. As of now, it’s the sixth highest-grossing film domestically , which means it’s beat out James Cameron’s Titanic (1997). Outside of the U.S., the long-awaited is also a huge success, holding steady in 12th place on the list of highest-grossing films globally. 

If you missed Top Gun: Maverick in theaters, you can now stream it from the comfort of home — and add to the film’s landmark success. After all, it’s also the first Tom Cruise movie to cross $1 billion in earnings. With all of this in mind, we’re taking a moment to celebrate the actor’s most successful — and call out his least successful — outings. 

And while Cruise has an extensive filmography, we’ve narrowed it down to 30 notable films — some great, some downright awful. Let’s start with the bad. 

The 15 Worst Tom Cruise Movies

30. losin’ it (1983).

rating of titanic movie

With only a dismal 18% on Rotten Tomatoes, Losin’ It holds the honor of being the worst Tom Cruise film on our roundup. One of the actor’s earliest movies, this teen comedy is about four high school buddies who travel to Mexico with just one goal in mind: lose their virginities before the trip is over. Boring and unfunny, Losin’ It ’s position here shouldn’t come as a surprise. 

29. Cocktail (1988)

rating of titanic movie

Brian Flanagan, a young student craving a high-paying job, needs money for a business degree, so he decides to take a bartending job in Jamaica. The problem? Well, not much happens in this one — and the silly end makes Cocktail even more hopeless. Called shallow and dry by critics, audiences gave it a dismal 9% rotten score. 

28. The Mummy (2017)

While trying to top the Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz classic that was The Mummy (1999) — and even The Mummy Returns (2001) — is a ridiculous premise, Universal sure tried. At the time, the studio wanted to prepare an Avengers-esque squad of classic movie monsters.

rating of titanic movie

That’s right, the likes of the Invisible Man and the Mummy were going to team up for the studios’ “Dark Universe” — Universal’s own interconnected cinematic world — but… that plan quickly fell apart. And a lot had to do with the atrocious The Mummy (2017), which couldn’t deliver scares nor campy humor. 

27. Rock of Ages (2012)

rating of titanic movie

Adapted from the popular Broadway musical of the same name, Rock of Ages celebrates hair metal bands. Here, Cruise plays the frontman of a fictional metal band called Arsenal. While the production costs crossed $75 million, Rock of Ages made less than $60 million worldwide, proving that not every musical should make the jump to the silver screen. 

26. Lions for Lambs (2007)

rating of titanic movie

Often regarded as Cruise’s most boring movie, Lions for Lambs is a two-hour class on the evils of war. Even convincing performances from Meryl Streep and Robert Redford can’t save this one. Honestly, there’s really not much more to say about Lions for Lambs — and that kind of tracks. 

25. The Last Samurai (2003)

rating of titanic movie

While The Last Samurai might have good scores from critics, it ranks among one of the worst Tom Cruise movies because of its premise. In many ways, it’s the ultimate white savior film, following problematic plot beats with such precision that, when described, they feel like something out of a parody of white savior films. 

24. Legend (1985)

rating of titanic movie

In this forgettable fantasy film from the ‘80s, Tom Cruise’s character heads on a mission to save the world’s unicorns. There’s also a character called The Lord of Darkness, so we’ll let you assume just how trite it is on your own. The only good things on display here are the makeup, and, at the time Legend came out, the special effects.

23. Vanilla Sky (2001)

rating of titanic movie

Starring big-name actors like Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Kurt Russell, Vanilla Sky seems like it should be a winner based on its ensemble cast alone. However, the incoherent conclusion and Cruise’s egocentric character made this unlucky remake of the Spanish movie Abre Los Ojos ( Open Your Eyes ), which came out just four or so years earlier, hard to watch.

22. Far and Away (1992)

rating of titanic movie

Coming out on the heels of blockbusters like Top Gun and critically acclaimed movies like Rain Man — that one earned Cruise his Oscar — Far and Away was a pretty far cry from Cruise’s good fare. The story of Irish immigrants hoping to make it to America, the movie co-stars Cruise’s then-wife, Oscar winner Nicole Kidman. But even the movie star appeal couldn’t help Far and Away make back its budget. 

21. Mission: Impossible II (2000)

rating of titanic movie

One of the least impressive Mission: Impossible films, this one sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) being sent to Sydney alongside Nyah Hall (Thandiwe Newton) to save the world from a genetically modified disease known as “Chimera”. Although the action scenes are solid, it’s not as fresh or fun as other Cruise action flicks. 

20. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

rating of titanic movie

While the first Jack Reacher was a pretty compelling movie full of fun, adrenaline-pumping action sequences, the sequel was pretty lukewarm — at best. In Tom Cruise movies of this ilk, the star is pretty dependable, but the movie itself lacked excitement, making it something we’ll Never Go Back to again.

19. Oblivion (2013)

rating of titanic movie

The sci-fi drama Oblivion was another pretty unfortunate attempt for Cruise to find his footing again in the 2010s. Predictable with painfully long scenes, this Tom Cruise movie is watchable — it co-stars the likes of Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ( Game of Thrones ), after all — but the most memorable part of it is the M83 soundtrack. 

18. Valkyrie (2008)

rating of titanic movie

Set in 1944, Valkyrie dramatizes German officers’ attempt to assassinate Hitler. There’s definitely some potential in the premise. Sure, Inglourious Basterds (2009) was more of a comedic take — and it had the added benefit of centering Jewish characters as the heroes — but its success shows there could’ve been something going for this historical thriller. Instead, it’s pretty unremarkable and the performances are bland. 

17. Knight and Day (2010)

With co-stars like Oscar winner Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Cameron Diaz and Peter Sarsgaard, you’d think this Tom Cruise outing would be better than it is — and yet… It’s pretty clear Cruise and Diaz shouldn’t team up on screen again, we’d say.

rating of titanic movie

Yes, they have some real charm and chemistry — and that’s why this isn’t lower on the list — but this action-comedy movie feels like an international adventure (with a reluctant sidekick) that you’ve seen before. 

16. Interview with the Vampire (1994)

The cast of Interview with the Vampire , which is based on the acclaimed Anne Rice novel of the same name, seems like a ‘90s dream come true. You’ve not only got Tom Cruise, but Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas and a young Kirsten Dunst. While this one is certainly something you can throw on, the actual casting choices are strange. 

rating of titanic movie

“The Tom Cruise casting is so bizarre, it’s almost impossible to imagine how it’s going to work,” Rice said in an interview with Movieline ahead of the film’s release. Although Rice would go on to praise Cruise and the film — even though she wanted Pitt and Cruise to swap roles — this is kind of a love-it-or-hate-it adaptation for book loyalists , making it the best of the worst for us. 

The 15 Best Tom Cruise Movies

15. american made (2017).

Barry Seal, a pilot who’s hired by the CIA, finds himself in charge of one of the greatest secret operations in U.S. history. That’s the premise behind American Made , a surprisingly watchable film that brings with it a kind of mile-a-minute verve.

rating of titanic movie

Not to mention, Cruise gets to showcase a kind of charisma and levity here that he hadn’t in awhile, given the laundry list of Jack Reacher and Mission: Impossible fare he was making at the time. 

14. The Color of Money (1986)

rating of titanic movie

Although Top Gun was the hit of the year in 1986, The Color of Money still stood out from the pack thanks to incredible performances from Cruise and Paul Newman, who finally nabbed an Oscar for his work. While audiences weren’t totally in love with the movie, critics had other thoughts, calling the Martin Scorsese film a “joy” to watch .

13. Top Gun (1986)

Despite receiving mixed feedback from critics — believe it or not, this classic has a rotten score from critics on the Tomatometer — Top Gun grossed a stunning $357 million globally against its production budget of $15 million.

rating of titanic movie

And decades after its debut, Top Gun ’s incredible aerial footage, stellar cast and killer soundtrack help it more than hold up. If someone asks you to name a Tom Cruise movie, odds are you’ll say this one. 

12. Magnolia (1999)

This epic drama depicts multiple characters’ stories as they search for love, meaning and forgiveness. In Magnolia , Tom Cruise undoubtedly gives us one of the best performances of his career.

rating of titanic movie

And while the film is ambitious and winding, it stays captivating thanks to the great cast — Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman, to name a few — and some genuinely compelling threads. 

11. Collateral (2004)

A dark thriller, Collateral stars Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo — and if that doesn’t convince you to watch it, maybe the premise will. The movie tells the story of a cab driver and a contract killer; the driver, Max (Foxx), realizes he’s been driving a hitman, Vincent (Cruise), from target to target. 

rating of titanic movie

Will Max be able to stop Vincent from killing off the last witness on his list? And, more importantly, can he do so without adding his name to Vincent’s kill list? Full of excitement, this stylish modern noir is a must-watch. 

10. The Outsiders (1983)

rating of titanic movie

One of Cruise’s first feature films, The Outsiders is an adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age novel of the same name. While it wasn’t as initially as successful as director Francis Ford Coppola had hoped, The Outsiders has since gained a cult following. While Cruise’s role is smaller here, he’s part of a truly stellar cast — Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillion, just to name a few — and we still think about that iconic backflip .

9. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (2015)

rating of titanic movie

Were you waiting for one of the Mission: Impossible films to pop up? While the original is certainly a good film, some of the more recent entries in the series raise the stakes to a new level. Rogue Nation is a thrilling adventure, anchored not just by Tom Cruise, but by the brilliant Rebecca Ferguson. There are some unforeseen plot twists here and there, and it’s anything but traditional when it comes to the onscreen romance. 

8. Jerry Maguire (1996)

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Jerry Maguire here. It’s even made our list of the 20 greatest football movies of all time . Here, Cruise plays the titular character — a sports agent whose client is Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Rod Tidwell, an NFL wide receiver.

rating of titanic movie

But this isn’t a one-note film; it’s also a rom-com of sorts, and the chemistry between Cruise and Renee Zellwegger is fun to watch. From iconic lines like “You had me at hello” to “Show me the money!”, Jerry Maguire might also be the most quotable film on this list. 

7. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick — and the last movie of his impressive career — Eyes Wide Shut has been categorized as an erotic thriller, but it also has some Lynchian elements that keep us revisiting this one time and again. Here, Cruise plays a doctor who gets into an argument with his wife (Nicole Kidman — the two leads were still together in real life while filming) about fidelity. 

rating of titanic movie

After Nicole’s character admits to having some unfulfilled desires, Cruise’s character leaves, having a string of decidedly surreal (and at times cult-y) sexual encounters. Eyes Wide Shut remains a must-watch film for the ways it dissects the connection between anonymity and sex — and the way that we can still be strangers to those closest to us. 

6. Mission: Impossible—Fallout (2018)

With an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, Mission: Impossible — Fallout is definitely the best Mission: Impossible movie. With its stunning visuals, incredible action sequences, and solid performances, the film — and director Christopher McQuarrie — managed to top previous installments. This is, hands down, one of the greatest action movies of all time. 

rating of titanic movie

And while we won’t be adding yet another Mission: Impossible to our list here, we will give a shout out to the formidable Ghost Protocol (2011). 

5. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow — which boasts a telling tagline: Live. Die. Repeat. — is an original, pulse-pounding narrative about a soldier who’s trying to save the Earth from an alien invasion. After dying rather quickly within the first moments of the film, Cruise’s Major William Cage realizes he’s stuck in a time loop. 

rating of titanic movie

Although he dies only to be revived every time the brutal fight takes place, he’s also getting stronger each time. Co-starring Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow is a dynamic sci-fi adventure that’s as compelling as it is inventive. 

4. A Few Good Men (1992)

rating of titanic movie

This traditional courtroom drama is straightforward in concept: a few good people do the right thing, putting morals over profits. Full of memorable lines and career-high performances from Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore, A Few Good Men is a classic — and one of the best Tom Cruise movies around. 

3. Risky Business (1983)

rating of titanic movie

When his parents take off for a few days, high school student Joel Goodsen (Cruise) is, naturally, looking to have some fun. As you’d expect, things quickly get out of hand. One of Cruise’s best early performances, Risky Business helped lay the groundwork for an incredibly successful (and long) career. Not to mention, it gave us this iconic dance scene . 

2. Minority Report (2002)

rating of titanic movie

Minority Report isn’t just one of Tom Cruise’s best movies, it’s one of the best films of all time. Directed by Steven Spielberg, it tells the story of an officer who’s accused of a murder he hasn’t yet committed.

A mystery-thriller film with all the sci-fi inventiveness you’d expect from a Philip K. Dick adaptation, this meditation on free will versus determinism is well worth your time. 

1. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

rating of titanic movie

We couldn’t dedicate the first spot on this list to any other movie but Top Gun: Maverick . While it’s easy to give a nostalgia vote to the top spots on similar lists of actor’s greatest films, Maverick kind of has the best of both worlds: it’s a throwback, but it’s also fresh.

The aerial tricks are epic. The adrenaline boost you’ll feel watching it is unparalleled. Without a doubt, Top Gun: Maverick top-tier when it comes to Tom Cruise movies.

Tom Cruise Movies That Get an Honorable Mention

Both of these films undeniably shaped Tom Cruise’s career, but it’s difficult for us to rank them given the way certain characters are portrayed. In both instances, there’s ableism, and both movies likely perpetuate harm by helping to shape society’s views of disability and autism. 

Rain Man (1988) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

rating of titanic movie

Born on the Fourth of July is a movie that’s hard to critique; it’s based on someone’s lived experiences, after all. At the same time, it deals with internalized ableism in a way that’s not really given too nuanced a look. Directed by Oliver Stone ( Platoon ), the film tells the story of Ron Kovic, a soldier eager to fight in the Vietnam War and who becomes paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the fighting. 

Often described by critics as an exploration of what it means to have one’s “manhood taken away” , there’s no denying the inherently ableist stance there. While a character experiencing internalized ableism should certainly have their story told on screen, this one doesn’t seem to realize the harm it’s feeding into. Not to mention, having an able-bodied actor playing the lead role in a film about a disabled character isn’t great. 

rating of titanic movie

On a similar note, we have Rain Man , the 1988 Oscar-winning film that stars Cruise and Dustin Hoffman as estranged brothers. Hoffman’s character marks one of the first on-screen depictions of an autistic person. “Released [over] 30 years ago… Rain Man begins when self-centered hustler Charlie Babbitt (Cruise) discovers he has an older brother, Raymond (Hoffman) — an autistic savant who has inherited all of their father’s $3 million fortune,” The Guardian notes of the movie’s plot. 

As you might imagine, Rain Man — which did well at the box office, won Oscars and became a widely discussed pop cultural reference — has an aftermath that’s damaging to autism awareness. It may not portray the autistic character in a “bad” light, but it certainly reiterated harmful stereotypes, shaping how generations see autistic people. Again, Cruise might give a notable performance here, but the movie’s legacy remains complicated. 


rating of titanic movie

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1997, History/Drama, 3h 15m

What to know

Critics Consensus

A mostly unqualified triumph for James Cameron, who offers a dizzying blend of spectacular visuals and old-fashioned melodrama. Read critic reviews

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Titanic videos, titanic   photos.

James Cameron's "Titanic" is an epic, action-packed romance set against the ill-fated maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic; the pride and joy of the White Star Line and, at the time, the largest moving object ever built. She was the most luxurious liner of her era -- the "ship of dreams" -- which ultimately carried over 1,500 people to their death in the ice cold waters of the North Atlantic in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

Rating: PG-13 (Disaster Related Peril|Brief Language|Nudity|Sensuality|Violence)

Genre: History, Drama, Romance

Original Language: English

Director: James Cameron

Producer: James Cameron , Jon Landau

Writer: James Cameron

Release Date (Theaters): Dec 19, 1997  wide

Rerelease Date (Theaters): Dec 1, 2017

Release Date (Streaming): Jun 1, 2014

Box Office (Gross USA): $658.8M

Runtime: 3h 15m

Distributor: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures

Production Co: 20th Century Fox, Lightstorm Entertainment, Paramount Pictures

Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo, Dolby SR, Surround, SDDS, DTS, Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio: Scope (2.35:1), 70mm

Cast & Crew

Leonardo DiCaprio

Jack Dawson

Kate Winslet

Rose DeWitt Bukater

Caledon 'Cal' Hockley

Kathy Bates

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Frances Fisher

Ruth DeWitt Bukater

Gloria Stuart

Rose Dawson Calvert

Bill Paxton

Brock Lovett

Bernard Hill

Captain Edward John Smith

Jonathan Hyde

J. Bruce Ismay

Victor Garber

Thomas Andrews

David Warner

Spicer Lovejoy

Danny Nucci

Fabrizio DeRossi

Lizzy Calvert

Bernard Fox

Colonel Archibald Gracie

Richard Fox

Emmett James

1st Class Steward

James Cameron


Rae Sanchini

Executive Producer

James Horner

Original Music

Russell Carpenter


Conrad Buff IV

Film Editing

Richard A. Harris

Gilly Poole

Peter Lamont

Production Design

Martin Laing

Art Director

Michael Ford

Set Decoration

Deborah Lynn Scott

Costume Design

News & Interviews for Titanic

The 50 Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time: Your Top Box Office Earners Ever Worldwide

Know Your Critic: Nguyên Lê, Freelance Film Critic

“Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong” About… Titanic

Critic Reviews for Titanic

Audience reviews for titanic.

Unpopular to say now but I believe that the movie was deserving of the awards and acclaim. Near perfectly executed popular entertainment. Thrilling, romantic, often very silly, and ultimately quite emotionally satisfying.

rating of titanic movie

Peak filmmaking on the grandest scale and THE most monumentally produced, impeccably designed, and harrowingly epic film I have ever seen. 'Titanic' will never not leave me utterly floored. It's been several months since I last watched this, so I'm trying to remain calm…but it just means so damn much when you cherish the commitment and physical craft a production like this takes and how miraculous it is, not only that Cameron's film turned out this spectacularly, but that we will likely never see an undertaking of this caliber ever again. That deafening mechanical roar when the all the lights go out, like a groaning beast from the deep....chills every time.

"Titanic" is an amazing drama/romantic movie of 1997. The plot to "Titanic" is that a group of scientists discover the sunken ship named "Titanic". A woman hears about this and calls up the scientists and claims to have been a first class passenger on the almighty ship "Titanic", she tells them about her survival and love affair she had on the ship. The movie's opening scene is showing footage of the "Titanic" leaving its dock. The last hour of the movie is just pretty much just "Jack" portrayed by "Leonard Dicaprio" and "Rose" portrayed by "Kate Winslet" trying to find a way off of "Titanic", which is suspenseful but can drag on from time to time. "Titanic's" climax is exciting, suspenseful and thrilling at the same time. The plot to the movie is excellent, but there are some issues and unanswered questions at the end of the movie. The acting in this movie is superb; "Leonardo Dicaprio" and "Kate Winslet" are two incredible actors and are stunning in this movie. "James Horner" does a great job at capturing the romance between "Jack" and "Rose". He also does a perfect job at making suspenseful and thrilling music. "James Cameron" is definitely one of cinema's greatest movie directors, he shoots movies beautifully and "Titanic" is no exception. He doesn't shake the camera or use close ups, no he captures a scene perfectly. If you are a person who either enjoys "Cameron's" movies or are a fan of the "Unsinkable Ship" then I highly recommend do you watch "Titanic" as it is an amazing drama/romantic with amazing acting, superb music and a beautifully shot movie of 1997. Although the movie does have some issues, these issues being some unanswered questions and the last hour dragging on and on. I give 1997's "Titanic" a 9/10.

I saw this on DVD for the first time in 2014 as part of a DVD binge weekend during 4 days of snow. I liked it because it has a real story--although in retrospect the poor rich girl who was going to kill herself because her fiance was too rich or too controlling was a little over the top, but this is from the perspective of a woman (me) who has lived all that drama decades ago. The sets were outstanding. Really captured the sense of what it was like to be trapped on a sinking ship --talk about being trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. The class warfare was interesting. Still fighting that. Nit pick: why did Rose keep the multi-million dollar necklace? It was given to her by someone she hated and it was more like a handcuff. And then why did she dump it into the ocean--I got that it was supposed to close a chapter on her life, but it was the wrong symbol. And she has this granddaughter--did she ever think maybe the granddaughter could use a little help paying off her student loans? As I say, those are nit picks, It was a good movie.

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rating of titanic movie

Great movie, but too intense, racy for younger kids.

Titanic Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

A person's worth is far greater than the station t

Jack and Rose transcend societal expectations and

Minimal racial diversity. Central female character

Rose is briefly struck by Cal. Violence and intens

One scene of a topless woman as she poses for a pa

The most commonly used swear is "s--t," repeated s

First-class passengers drink wine and champagne wi

Parents need to know that James Cameron's King-of-the-World saga Titanic is one of the highest-grossing movies of all time and is still sure to attract young teen and tween audiences. There's brief nudity (a topless Rose poses for a nude drawing, which is also shown throughout the film) and sexuality (Jack…

Positive Messages

A person's worth is far greater than the station they were born into. Themes include compassion and humility.

Positive Role Models

Jack and Rose transcend societal expectations and fall in love with each other, acting bravely to help save themselves and others. The "haves" for the most part -- excepting Molly Brown, the captain, and the ship architect -- aren't the most admirable lot. Many people onboard act selfishly, like Cal, who pretends a small child is his to get a spot on a lifeboat, or the man who refuses to allow his half-filled lifeboat to return to save more people.

Diverse Representations

Minimal racial diversity. Central female characters like Rose and Molly Brown are portrayed as strong, nuanced, and in charge of their own destiny, despite pressures around them to act otherwise. Early 20th century class conflicts are a central theme: Privileges of the wealthy are highlighted and criticized, ending with Rose choosing to be identified as a third-class passenger.

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Violence & Scariness

Rose is briefly struck by Cal. Violence and intense peril are concentrated toward the end of the movie, especially as the ship begins to sink: Mass chaos leads to fistfights, pushing, gun violence, even suicide. People plunge to their death in icy waters, some killed by falling debris from the ship. Almost everyone left in the water drowns. Close-ups of passengers who stay on the ship, preferring to await the inevitable in their rooms or lounges.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

One scene of a topless woman as she poses for a painting, plus shots of that painting, as well as a few other nude drawings. Jack and Rose flirt, kiss passionately, eventually have sex. The love scene doesn't include any nudity, but the couple is sweaty, out-of-breath, bare-shouldered, on top of each other.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

The most commonly used swear is "s--t," repeated several times throughout. Other strong language includes one "f--k," "horses--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," "hell," "ass," "bloody," and several "goddamns," "oh my Gods," and other exclamations, especially toward the end. Insults include "slut," "whore," and "moron."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

First-class passengers drink wine and champagne with dinner. Men smoke cigars and drink brandy after dinner. Steerage passengers get drunk at a late-night party where beer is plentiful. Jack smokes cigarettes. Rose starts to smoke a cigarette, but her fiancé and mom stop her; she smokes one later after binge-drinking.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that James Cameron 's King-of-the-World saga Titanic is one of the highest-grossing movies of all time and is still sure to attract young teen and tween audiences. There's brief nudity (a topless Rose poses for a nude drawing, which is also shown throughout the film) and sexuality (Jack and Rose make love in the backseat of a car), but the forbidden romance between the main characters (played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio ) is otherwise rather chaste by today's standards. It's the epic Titanic sinking scene that may make this movie too intense for younger kids. Throughout the mass chaos, people fight to save themselves ahead of others, plunge to watery deaths, and, in some cases, even die by suicide. Three incidents of gun violence take place during the sinking, with visuals of blood and depiction of suicide with a gun. On the flip side, characters display compassion and humility. The fact that this movie is based on a historical event may be too intense for sensitive children, but mature kids fascinated with the Titanic will find it compelling to watch. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Parents say (124)
  • Kids say (722)

Based on 124 parent reviews

Not prepared for multiple references to suicide

Great movie and excellent source for discussions, what's the story.

Director James Cameron frames the story of the TITANIC in the late 1990s, when a high-tech underwater mission uncovers hidden treasures from the legendary ship, including a nude drawing of a beautiful girl. A 101-year-old woman (Gloria Stuart) reveals that she's the woman in the drawing, and viewers are then immersed in the events on board the ship from her point of view. She was Rose ( Kate Winslet ), a lovely young woman reluctantly engaged to one of the richest men on the ship, the cool and calculating Cal ( Billy Zane ). Unhappy with her engagement, Rose briefly considers launching herself overboard but is saved by the witty, handsome Jack ( Leonardo DiCaprio ), a third-class passenger who won his Titanic ticket in a poker game. As Jack and Rose grow closer, Cal's jealousy swells, and he eventually frames Jack for stealing. When the ship hits an iceberg, everyone is thrown into a catastrophic, life-and-death situation where wealth and privilege are thrown out the window, relationships are tested, and courage is rare.

Is It Any Good?

One of the highest-grossing movies of all time, this enthralling saga achieved commercial and critical success, winning 11 Oscars out of its 14 nominations. The irresistible love story of Titanic stars two of the best actors of their generation; dazzling visual effects involve the most famous ship disaster of all time; a smug, rich villain is so easy to hate that he should be sporting an evil, twirling mustache; James Horner's score soars, coupled with Celine Dion's hokey-but-touching "My Heart Will Go On" theme; and there are fine performances by supporting actors like Kathy Bates as the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Frances Fisher as Rose's snobby mother, Bernard Hill (known best as King Theoden in that other epic, Lord of the Rings ) as Captain Smith, Victor Garber as the Titanic architect, and, of course, Oscar-nominated Stuart as the narrator, Old Rose.

Strong central female characters are the heart of Titanic , along with a look into the differences between social classes. Fans of romance will adore the journey of the star-crossed lovers, while action fans will appreciate the suspense and tension as the ship begins to sink. This is truly a film that has something for nearly everyone.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about how in the face of catastrophe, people's true characters were revealed by their choices. How do different people on board the Titanic react to the ship sinking? Who were the bravest? Who were the most selfish?

Has society's emphasis on class changed since the time period depicted in Titanic ? What are other social considerations that divide people nowadays? How does Rose's life after the Titanic pay tribute to her brief love affair with Jack?

James Cameron is known for depicting strong, fearless female characters. If you're familiar with his other movies, compare Rose to Ripley ( Aliens ), Sarah Connor ( The Terminator ), and Neytiri, Trudy, and Grace ( Avatar ).

How do the characters in Titanic demonstrate compassion and humility ? Why are these important character strengths ?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : December 19, 1997
  • On DVD or streaming : September 10, 2012
  • Cast : Billy Zane , Kate Winslet , Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Director : James Cameron
  • Studio : Paramount Pictures
  • Genre : Romance
  • Topics : History
  • Character Strengths : Compassion , Humility
  • Run time : 194 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language
  • Last updated : October 28, 2023

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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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Titanic (1997)

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Summary A fictional romantic tale of a rich girl (Winslet) and a poor bohemian boy (DiCaprio) who meet on the ill-fated voyage of the 'unsinkable' ship.

Directed By : James Cameron

Written By : James Cameron

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Like a great iron Sphinx on the ocean floor, the Titanic faces still toward the West, interrupted forever on its only voyage. We see it in the opening shots of “Titanic,” encrusted with the silt of 85 years; a remote-controlled TV camera snakes its way inside, down corridors and through doorways, showing us staterooms built for millionaires and inherited by crustaceans.

These shots strike precisely the right note; the ship calls from its grave for its story to be told, and if the story is made of showbiz and hype, smoke and mirrors--well, so was the Titanic. She was “the largest moving work of man in all history,” a character boasts, neatly dismissing the Pyramids and the Great Wall. There is a shot of her, early in the film, sweeping majestically beneath the camera from bow to stern, nearly 900 feet long and “unsinkable,” it was claimed, until an iceberg made an irrefutable reply.

James Cameron's 194-minute, $200 million film of the tragic voyage is in the tradition of the great Hollywood epics. It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted and spellbinding. If its story stays well within the traditional formulas for such pictures, well, you don't choose the most expensive film ever made as your opportunity to reinvent the wheel.

We know before the movie begins that certain things must happen. We must see the Titanic sail and sink, and be convinced we are looking at a real ship. There must be a human story--probably a romance--involving a few of the passengers. There must be vignettes involving some of the rest and a subplot involving the arrogance and pride of the ship's builders--and perhaps also their courage and dignity. And there must be a reenactment of the ship's terrible death throes; it took two and a half hours to sink, so that everyone aboard had time to know what was happening, and to consider their actions.

All of those elements are present in Cameron's “Titanic,” weighted and balanced like ballast, so that the film always seems in proportion. The ship was made out of models (large and small), visual effects and computer animation. You know intellectually that you're not looking at a real ocean liner--but the illusion is convincing and seamless. The special effects don't call inappropriate attention to themselves but get the job done.

The human story involves an 17-year-old woman named Rose DeWitt Bukater ( Kate Winslet ) who is sailing to what she sees as her own personal doom: She has been forced by her penniless mother to become engaged to marry a rich, supercilious snob named Cal Hockley ( Billy Zane ), and so bitterly does she hate this prospect that she tries to kill herself by jumping from the ship. She is saved by Jack Dawson ( Leonardo DiCaprio ), a brash kid from steerage, and of course they will fall in love during the brief time left to them.

The screenplay tells their story in a way that unobtrusively shows off the ship. Jack is invited to join Rose's party at dinner in the first class dining room, and later, fleeing from Cal's manservant, Lovejoy ( David Warner ), they find themselves first in the awesome engine room, with pistons as tall as churches, and then at a rousing Irish dance in the crowded steerage. (At one point Rose gives Lovejoy the finger; did young ladies do that in 1912?) Their exploration is intercut with scenes from the command deck, where the captain ( Bernard Hill ) consults with Andrews ( Victor Garber ), the ship's designer and Ismay ( Jonathan Hyde ), the White Star Line's managing director.

Ismay wants the ship to break the trans-Atlantic speed record. He is warned that icebergs may have floated into the hazardous northern crossing but is scornful of danger. The Titanic can easily break the speed record but is too massive to turn quickly at high speed; there is an agonizing sequence that almost seems to play in slow motion, as the ship strains and shudders to turn away from an iceberg in its path--and fails.

We understand exactly what is happening at that moment because of an ingenious story technique by Cameron, who frames and explains the entire voyage in a modern story. The opening shots of the real Titanic, we are told, are obtained during an expedition led by Brock Lovett ( Bill Paxton ), an undersea explorer. He seeks precious jewels but finds a nude drawing of a young girl. Meanwhile, an ancient woman sees the drawing on TV and recognizes herself. This is Rose (Gloria Stuart), still alive at 101. She visits Paxton and shares her memories (“I can still smell the fresh paint”). And he shows her video scenes from his explorations, including a computer simulation of the Titanic's last hours--which doubles as a briefing for the audience. By the time the ship sinks, we already know what is happening and why, and the story can focus on the characters while we effortlessly follow the stages of the Titanic's sinking.

Movies like this are not merely difficult to make at all, but almost impossible to make well. The technical difficulties are so daunting that it's a wonder when the filmmakers are also able to bring the drama and history into proportion. I found myself convinced by both the story and the saga. The setup of the love story is fairly routine, but the payoff--how everyone behaves as the ship is sinking--is wonderfully written, as passengers are forced to make impossible choices. Even the villain, played by Zane, reveals a human element at a crucial moment (despite everything, damn it all, he does love the girl).

The image from the Titanic that has haunted me, ever since I first read the story of the great ship, involves the moments right after it sank. The night sea was quiet enough so that cries for help carried easily across the water to the lifeboats, which drew prudently away. Still dressed up in the latest fashions, hundreds froze and drowned. What an extraordinary position to find yourself in after spending all that money for a ticket on an unsinkable ship.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Titanic movie poster

Titanic (1997)

Rated PG-13 For Shipwreck Scenes, Mild Language and Sexuality

194 minutes

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson

Kate Winslet as Rose Dewitt Bukater

Bill Paxton as Brock Lovett

Kathy Bates as Molly Brown

Billy Zane as Cal Hockley

Written and Directed by

  • James Cameron

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Titanic parents guide

Titanic Parent Guide

Just like the treasure-hunting crew he portrays, this motion picture has mined catastrophe for cash profits--and thrown the sanctity of life and moral responsibility aside..

Titanic sails again as the film re-releases to home video in 3D. Concentrating more on fiction than fact, Director James Cameron's Titanic depicts the catastrophic voyage of the unsinkable ship through the eyes of young lovers Jack and Rose (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet).

Release date April 4, 2012

Run Time: 194 minutes

Official Movie Site

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The guide to our grades, parent movie review by rod gustafson.

It’s amazing how Hollywood can convert disaster into dollars time and time again. James Cameron, the creator of Titanic turned the biggest ship and sea tragedy into one of the greatest money making film of all time—and didn’t even have a moment in the closing credits to dedicate his windfall to the memory of those who perished. Just a minor oversight.

I acknowledge Titanic as one of the most technically advanced and visually awe inspiring movies ever made. Cameron’s task in directing this production is in a league with the skills and organization required to run a small country. After all, Titanic’s grosses far exceed the GNP of a small nation. But why would he choose to take a story chock full of amazing feats of heroism and tragedy, and instead create two fictional characters to be the main focus of the film?

The film contains unnecessary frontal female nudity, implied intercourse complete with orgasmic comments, language I think would even offend the steerage class, and glamorization of gambling, drinking, and smoking. Applauded by adoring fans, this young lovers’ story also teaches that an opportunity for sex is something you should grasp now—just in case your ship sinks.

In an opening scene, Rose, now 101 years old, accuses an exploration team of not getting the Titanic experience—but Cameron missed the boat too. Just like the treasure-hunting crew he portrays, this motion picture has mined catastrophe for cash profits—and thrown the sanctity of life and moral responsibility aside.

Original Theatrical Release: December 13, 1997

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Titanic rating & content info.

Why is Titanic rated PG-13? Titanic is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language.

Pushing the limits of the PG-13 rating, Titanic includes multiple views of a woman’s naked breasts (as she poses for an artist), a sexual encounter between an unmarried teen couple (some activity shown), a sexual expletive along with other mild and moderate profanities, and glamorization of gambling, drinking and smoking. As well, suicide is contemplated and violent threats against life are made. The peril and trauma of the passengers on board the fated ship may also be disturbing to some viewers.

- Frequent portrayals of violent death and corpses (some involving children).

-A character contemplates suicide.

Sexual Content:

- Breast nudity in a non-sexual context.

- Implied sexual relations.

- One use of the sexual expletive in a non-sexual context, and one crude hand gesture.

- Frequent use of scatological slang and cursing.

- Infrequent use of profanity and mild sexual slang.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

- Frequent portrayals of tobacco and alcohol use.

- Depictions of gambling.

Page last updated July 17, 2017

Titanic Parents' Guide

Why do you think the scriptwriters of this film chose to focus more on fiction than fact? If you were to tackle this topic, how would you handle it?

Touted as “unsinkable,” the passengers aboard the Titanic were at first slow to respond to the seriousness of their situation. Can you think of other instances when apathy has caused people to neglect warnings? How did things change when the reality of the danger began to dawn? How did the “every man for himself” attitude adversely affect the survival rate? What things could have been done differently?

The most recent home video release of Titanic movie is September 10, 2012. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: Titanic

Release Date: 10 September 2012

After a successful re-launch of the Titanic on theatrical screens in April of 2012, this movie is being released to the home video market in Blu-ray (Blu-ray/DVD/UV Digital Copy) and 3D (Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/UV Digital Copy). Both editions offer the following bonus extras:

- In-depth exploration of the film with James Cameron

- Documentary footage produced by National Geographic with James Cameron that brings the world’s leading RMS Titanic experts together to discuss why and how the ship sank

- Three audio commentaries

- Sixty behind-the-scenes featurettes

- Featurette on the visual effects

- Thirty deleted scenes

- Over 2,000 archival photographs

DVD Notes: Titanic

Release Date: 25 October 2005

Paramount Home Entertainment enshrines this epic film in a three-disc Special Collector’s Edition . The over three hours movie will be spit onto two of those DVDs, along with commentaries by Director James Cameron and cast (Kate Winslet & Gloria Stuart) and crewmembers (Producer Jon Landau and Executive Producer Rae Sanchini). Historical background and a visual effects breakdown of the stunts are also provided.

The third disc offers on opportunity to watch 29 deleted scenes (46 minutes worth of them) and an alternate ending. Other bonuses include behind-the-scenes and making-of footage, more historical tidbits, and the Celine Dion music video of My Heart Will Go On .

Related home video titles:

James Cameron returned to the subject of the Titanic for another film project—this time a documentary exploring the wreck at the bottom of the ocean called .

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James cameron, production year, release date, romance, drama, approx. running minutes, leonardo dicaprio, kate winslet, billy zane, kathy bates, frances fisher, gloria stuart, bill paxton, bernard hill, david warner, victor garber, jonathan hyde, suzy amis, classified date, bbfc reference.

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‘titanic’: thr’s 1997 review.

On Dec. 19, 1997, James Cameron's epic set sail in theaters nationwide.

By Duane Bygre

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On Dec. 19, 1997, James Cameron’s Titanic set sail in theaters nationwide. The 193-minute blockbuster epic went on to dominate the 70th Academy Awards, nabbing 11 wins including best picture. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below.

Paramount should replace that white mountain in its logo with an iceberg for the next several months. The studio will navigate spectacularly with its latest launch, Titanic , the most expensive movie ever created about what was once the largest moving object ever built.

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A daunting blend of state-of-the-art special effects melded around a sterling central story, Titanic plumbs personal and philosophical story depths not usually found in “event-scale” movies that, beneath their girth and pyrotechnics, often have nothing at their core.

Titanic , however, is no soulless junket into techno-glop wizardry but rather a complex and radiant tale that essays both mankind’s destructive arrogance and its noble endurance. 

Ultimately, we all know the horrible outcome of the Titanic sinking. We can recite the numbers lost and the awesome dimensions of the ship, and we can construct some sort of comparative scope for the catastrophe. But all these are mere quantifications and chit-chat regurgitation. 

Cameron, who wrote and directed the film, has put a face on that horrific happening; he has taken us beyond the forensics of the sinking and put us inside the skin and psyches of those who perished and those who survived. In both, we see facets of ourselves: In philosophical microcosm, Cameron shows that in the end — both the good and the bad endings — we’re all in the same boat.

Told in flashback as a single-minded fortune hunter (Bill Paxton) combs the Titanic’s wreckage with his state-of-the-art search ship in hopes of finding undiscovered treasure, the story is recalled by a 103-year-old woman (Gloria Stuart) who was a passenger on the ship’s ill-fated maiden voyage. Drifting back to that time in April 1912, we see the trip through Rose’s (Kate Winslet ) 17-year-old eyes. 

High-spirited and betrothed to a monied mill heir (Billy Zane), Rose is, nevertheless, despondent. Like a Henry James heroine, she finds that she is not suited for life in the gilded cage that society is shaping for her as the baubled wife of a leisured industrialist. She foresees her life as being measured out by serving spoons, and she wants no part of such a stuffy existence. Her ennui turns to deep depression, and she nearly ends it by diving into icy waters, where she is saved only by the wise grace of a third-class passenger, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio ), whose joy for life and eagerness for living it to the fullest soon revitalize the young Rose. 

All the while, Cameron plants calamitous forebodings — the inadequacies of the life rafts, equipment shortages and the vanity of the ship’s creators and captain. Narratively, Titanic is a masterwork of big-canvas storytelling, broad enough to entrance and entertain yet precise and delicate enough to educate and illuminate. Undeniably, one could nitpick — critic-types may snicker at some ‘ 60s-era lines and easy-pop ‘ 90s-vantage hindsights  — but that’s like dismissing a Mercedes on the grounds that its glove compartment interior is drab. 

Unlike in most monstrosities of this film’s size and girth, the characters are not assembled from a standard stock pot. Within the dimensions of such an undertaking, Cameron, along with his well-chosen cast, has created memorable, idiosyncratic and believable characters. Our sympathies are warmed by the two leads: Winslet is effervescently rambunctious as the trapped Rose, while DiCaprio’s willowy steadfastness wonderfully heroic. On the stuffy side of the deck, Zane is aptly snide as Rose’s cowardly fiance, while Frances Fisher is perfect as a social snob, both shrill and frightened. Kathy Bates is a hoot as the big-hatted, big-mouthed Molly Brown — she is, indeed, indestructible. On the seamier side, David Warner is positively chilling as a ruthless valet. As the deep-sea treasure hunter, Paxton brings a Cameron-type obsessiveness to his quest. 

Also on the Oscar front, clear the deck for multiple technical nominations. Front and center is, of course, Cameron. A decided cut above other superstar directors in that he can also write, Cameron deserves a director’s nomination for his masterful creation — it’s both a logistical and aesthetic marvel. The film’s fluid, masterfully punctuated editing, including some elegantly economical match cuts, is outstanding: Editors Conrad Buff and Richard A. Harris deserve nominations, as does cinematographer Russell Carpenter for his brilliantly lit scopings ; his range of blues seems to hit every human emotion. 

Titanic ‘s visual and special effects transcend state-of-the-art workmanship, invoking feelings within us not usually called up by razzle-dazzlery . Highest honors to visual effects supervisor Rob Legato and special effects coordinator Thomas L. Fisher for the powerful, knockdown imagery. It’s often awesome, most prominently in showing the ship’s unfathomable rupture. The splitting of the iron monster is a heart stopper, in no small measure compounded by the sound team’s creaking thunders. Through it all, James Horner’s resonant and lilting musical score, at times uplifted by a mournful Irish reed, is a deep treasure by itself.  — Duane Byrge , originally published on Nov. 3, 1997.

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FILM REVIEW; A Spectacle As Sweeping As the Sea

By Janet Maslin

  • Dec. 19, 1997

The long-awaited advent of the most expensive movie ever made, the reportedly $200 million ''Titanic,'' brings history to mind, and not just the legendary seafaring disaster of April 15, 1912. Think back also, exactly 58 years ago today, to the Dec. 19 New York premiere of another grand, transporting love story set against a backdrop of prideful excess, cataclysmic upheaval and character-defining trial by fire.

Recall how that cultural landmark wowed audiences with its bravado, mad extravagance and state-of-the-art Hollywood showmanship, all fueled by one unstoppable filmmaker and his obsessive imagination. Just as David O. Selznick had Atlanta to burn, now James Cameron has a ship to sink, but he also has much more than calamity to explore in this gloriously retrograde new epic. Mr. Cameron's magnificent ''Titanic'' is the first spectacle in decades that honestly invites comparison to ''Gone With the Wind.''

What a rarity that makes it in today's world of meaningless gimmicks and short attention spans: a huge, thrilling three-and-a-quarter-hour experience that unerringly lures viewers into the beauty and heartbreak of its lost world. Astonishing technological advances are at work here, but only in the service of one spectacular illusion: that the ship is afloat again, and that the audience is intimately involved in its voyage.

What's more, Mr. Cameron succeeds magically in linking his film's young lovers, played enchantingly by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, with established details of the ''Titanic'' story. And let's not forget the offscreen drama: delayed release and outrageous costs made ''Titanic'' the joke of the summer. Now it's the movie of the year.

Though the tender moments in Mr. Cameron's earlier films have mostly involved Arnold Schwarzenegger, graceful storytelling from this one-man army of a filmmaker (a director, a producer, a writer and an editor) is the biggest of many surprises here. Swept away by the romance of his subject matter, Mr. Cameron rises to the occasion with a simple, captivating narrative style, one that cares little for subtlety but overflows with wonderful, well-chosen Hollywood hokum. In its own sobering way, the film is forward-looking, too, as its early brashness gives way to near-religious humility when the moments of reckoning arrive. Ultimately a haunting tale of human nature, with endless displays of callousness, gallantry or cowardice, it offers an unforgettable vision of millennium-ready unease in the sight of passengers adrift in icy seas on that last, moonless night.

That Mr. Cameron allowed flashlights into what should have been a pitch-black sequence is one of the rare times when ''Titanic'' willingly departs from established fact. Otherwise, with an attention to detail that goes well beyond fanatical, the film flawlessly recreates its monument to Gilded Age excess. Behind-the-scenes details here, which prove no less fascinating than Selznick's ''Gone With the Wind'' memos, include Mr. Cameron's having persuaded the original carpet manufacturer to make an 18,000-square-foot reproduction of its ''Titanic'' weave and his having insisted that every sign, uniform and logo for the Southampton sailing sequence also be created in mirror image, so that the camera could reverse the apparent direction of the nearly life-size model ship.

Sets match old photographs right down to the sculpture and woodwork; costumes incorporate fragments of vintage clothing; even the silver White Star Line ashtrays had to be right. A core group of 150 extras worked with an Edwardian etiquette coach throughout the filming, furthering the illusion that the privileged past had returned to life.

''Titanic'' is no museum piece, however. It's a film with tremendous momentum right from its deceptive, crass-looking start. The story opens in the present day, with a team of scientist-cowboys (led by Bill Paxton) hunting for lost treasure amid the Titanic wreckage. Though Mr. Cameron made his own journey to the ocean floor to film amazing glimpses of the ship, he treats these explorers as glib 90's hotshots, the kind of macho daredevils who could just as easily be found tracking twisters or dinosaurs in a summer action film.

''Oops, somebody left the water running,'' one of them wisecracks about the sunken ship.

Then the film begins, ever so teasingly, to open its window to the past. A 101-year-old woman (played spiritedly by Gloria Stuart, an 87-year-old beauty who appeared in ''Gold Diggers of 1935'') hears of the expedition and says it has links to her own history. It seems that she, Rose, was the model for a nude sketch found by the present-day fortune hunters in a Titanic safe. It is the only thing of value to be retrieved there. The money in the safe has turned to mud.

But where is the Heart of the Ocean, the egg-size blue diamond Rose wears in the drawing? Rose begins telling her story, and at long last 1912 is at hand. In an introductory sequence mounted on a colossal scale, Mr. Cameron shows the ship being boarded by its full economic range of passengers, from the haughty rich to the third-class passengers being checked for head lice.

Young Rose (Ms. Winslet) arrives at the dock in the show-stopping plumage of Deborah L. Scott's costume designs, and in the unfortunate company of Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), the tiresome snob whom she has agreed to marry, largely at the urging of her impecunious mother (Frances Fisher). The Rose-Cal story line, which is the weakest part of the film thanks to Cal's unwavering odiousness, plays like Edith Wharton Lite.

Meanwhile, in a nearby tavern, adorable Jack Dawson (Mr. DiCaprio) is winning a third-class Titanic ticket in a poker game. It won't be long before Jack is bounding happily into steerage, showing off the boyish adventurousness that makes him such a cure for what's ailing Rose. Aboard the ship of dreams, as the Titanic is often called here, Jack is one serious dreamboat.

A bohemian artist (whose drawings were done by Mr. Cameron) who has spent the requisite time in Paris, he offers all the fun and flirtatiousness that Rose has been missing. This 20-year-old has also shown his share of worldly wisdom by the end of the story. It goes without saying that it's Jack, not Cal, who is the film's true gentleman. And that Mr. DiCaprio has made an inspired career move in so successfully meeting the biggest challenge for an actor of his generation: a traditional role.

Among the many miracles of ''Titanic'' is its way of creating a sweet, life-changing courtship between Jack and Rose in the course of only a few days. At the risk of turning into a women's picture, ''Titanic'' brings these two together through a dramatic meeting, an invitation for Jack at a formal first-class dinner, a dancing romp among steerage passengers and even enough intimate moments to give the love story heat. Splendid chemistry between the stars, along with much color from the supporting cast and careful foreshadowing from Mr. Cameron, keeps the romance buoyant even after the dread iceberg gets in its way.

Comfortable even in suggesting that the ship's lookouts missed the danger because they were busy watching lovestruck Jack and Rose, Mr. Cameron lets tragedy strike midway through the film. That way, the disaster can unfold in almost real time, with terrifying precision on a par with all the other details here.

Not for ''Titanic'' the shrill hysteria of ordinary disaster stories; this film is especially delicate in its slow way of letting the gravity of the situation become clear. Much scarier than any explosion-filled caper film is the simple assessment from the ship's master builder, played with great dignity by Victor Garber: ''In an hour or so, all this will be at the bottom of the Atlantic.''

As Mr. Cameron joked during production, about a film that pitilessly observes the different plights of the rich and the poor, ''We're holding just short of Marxist dogma.'' (A lavish ''Titanic'' coffee table book from HarperCollins is filled with fascinating data about the film, from the director's casual asides to accounts of the technological wizardry, like computerized hydraulics, that were devised for repeatedly sinking the ship.) By this point, the audience knows the ship so fully, from Cal and Rose's elaborate suite to the depths of the boiler room, that the film is on shockingly familiar territory as Rose searches every newly waterlogged area for Jack.

Very much to Mr. Cameron's credit is the lack of logistical confusion. Indeed, the film's modern-day characters even watch a computerized version of how the ship split and then rose vertically just before it plunged straight down, events that are later re-enacted with awesome power. Despite all this advance information and the revelation that Rose lives to be 101, ''Titanic'' still sustains an extraordinary degree of suspense.

Tiny, devastating touches -- how the same doll whose face rests on the ocean floor in 1996 is clutched in the arms of a pretty little girl who idolizes Jack, or a four-hanky coda seen in Rose's dream -- work as well as the film's big spectacle in giving the tragedy of ''Titanic'' its full dramatic impact. Though many of the story's minor characters are one-note (hardly the case with Kathy Bates's hearty Molly Brown or Bernard Hill's brave captain), the cumulative effect of their presence is anything but shallow.

Beyond its romance, ''Titanic'' offers an indelibly wrenching story of blind arrogance and its terrible consequences. It's the rare Hollywood adventure film that brings mythic images of tragedy -- the fall of Icarus, the ruin of Ozymandias -- so easily to mind.

The irony is that Mr. Cameron's ''Titanic'' is such a Titanic in its own right, a presumptuous reach for greatness against all reasonable odds. The film itself gambles everything on visual splendor and technological accomplishment, which is one reason its extravagance is fully justified on screen. But if Mr. Cameron's own brazenness echoes that seen in his story, remember the essential difference. This ''Titanic'' is too good to sink.

''Titanic'' is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It includes partial nudity, one brief sexual situation, mild profanity and the soul-shaking sight of a great ship going down.

Written and directed by James Cameron; director of photography, Russell Carpenter; edited by Conrad Buff, Mr. Cameron and Richard A. Harris; music by James Horner; production designer, Peter Lamont; costume designer, Deborah L. Scott; special visual effects, Digital Domain; produced by Mr. Cameron, Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini; released by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Running time: 197 minutes. This film is rated PG-13.

WITH: Leonardo DiCaprio (Jack Dawson), Kate Winslet (Rose DeWitt Bukater), Gloria Stuart (Rose Dawson Calvert), Billy Zane (Cal Hockley), Kathy Bates (Molly Brown), Frances Fisher (Ruth DeWitt Bukater), Bernard Hill (Capt. E. J. Smith), Victor Garber (Thomas Andrews) and Bill Paxton (Brock Lovett).

Screen Rant

Why titanic is only rated pg-13.

With violence, nudity and bad language, Titanic isn't a film to watch with kids. So how did James Cameron's epic get away with a PG-13 rating?

How did  Titanic manage to get off so lightly with a PG-13 rating? Released in 1997, James Cameron's  Titanic cruised to unprecedented success at both the box office and that year's Oscars. With Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet playing star-crossed passengers from wildly different social classes,  Titanic  became a classic love story that remains hugely popular over two decades later. In the late 1990s, the entire world found themselves discussing the dimensions and buoyancy of a wooden door, and finding someone who  hadn't bought a ticket to James Cameron's aqua extravaganza was all but impossible.

Titanic benefited from incredibly broad appeal, but one demographic who perhaps shouldn't have been watching Jack and Rose 's backseat adventures were the kids. Aside from the predictable scenes of terror and peril,  Titanic futures plenty of violence with both fists and firearms, harrowing scenes of people drowning, and a smattering of swearing below decks. Of course, there's also Kate Winslet's famous nude scene, in which Rose strips off and poses like one of Jack's French girls wearing nothing but the pricey Heart of the Ocean around her neck. Considering all of the above, it's a minor miracle that  Titanic was able to get away with a surprisingly light PG-13 rating.

Related:  Titanic Was A Terminator Prequel: Theory Explained

According to the MPAA's PG-13 guidance, a film with such a rating will be free from " persistent " or " realistic " violence.  Titanic just about slips through this category, and much of the death can be considered historical in context, but it's the nudity where the PG-13 rating really begins to look inconsistent. Nudity is permitted under PG-13, but only when the scene is " not   sexually-orientated ."  Titanic could feasibly argue that the drawing scene is artistic instead of sexual, and the fact Rose and Jack bunk up later is irrelevant. Others might suggest that the scene is one of the most sexually charged in cinematic history, and in conjunction with the blood, death and swearing, Titanic was surely on course for an R-rating before somehow veering off and colliding with a PG-13.

A 2011 report by  Slate argued that the Hollywood ratings system inherently favored big-budget productions, and was more likely to come down heavier upon independent pictures. The investigation compared  Titanic  to 1999's  Besieged , which landed an R-rating despite having less nudity, swearing and violence than James Cameron 's fictionalized account of the Titanic's maiden voyage.  Slate concluded that the membership system of the MPAA (which is comprised of representatives from Hollywood's major studios) was flawed, and a more independent alternative was required to ensure complete parity.

Whether down to artful nudity or studio politics,  Titanic is evidently a borderline case - a relatively soft R, or one of the wilder PG-13s, but this is where the PG-13 rating proves a worthy addition to the system. Some will have no qualms about letting their 12-year-olds enjoy one of the most iconic love stories in cinematic history, while others would recoil at the thought of youngsters glimpsing Rose 's risque art class. Rather than laying down the law with a hard R or giving the go-ahead with a PG, the middle option allows parents to make the final decision, while warning conservative types that spicy moments may lie within. But the key issue with  Titanic 's rating isn't protecting fragile young minds from violence and nudity, it's ensuring that all films are afforded a level playing field, and  Titanic 's PG-13 calls that into question.

In hindsight,  Titanic 's rating undoubtedly would've ruffled some feathers, catching families who were expecting 3 hours of educational history very much off guard. But without that PG-13, deserved or otherwise, cinema history would've played out very differently.

More:  Titanic's Ending Completely Screwed A Character (And Nobody Cared)


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