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5 ‘Titanic’ dialogue facts

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Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012 11:20 am | Updated: 11:41 am, Thu Apr 5, 2012.

James Cameron’s 1997 epic movie “Titanic” was re-released in theaters earlier this week in 3D fashion. Cameron devoted much of his time transforming the original film into 3D in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. The Oscar-adorned motion picture ranks No. 2 on the highest-grossing movie list. It held the top spot until 2009’s “Avatar,” which coincidentally also was a Cameron project. While “Titanic” is remembered for so many reasons, I thought I would focus on some the film’s dialogue. Here are five highlights:

“I’m the king of the world!”

This line was delivered by Leonardo DiCaprio (aka Jack Dawson) on the bow of the ship. DiCaprio says it right after him and his pal Fabrizio, played by Danny Nucci, see dolphins swimming in front of the ocean liner. This particular phrase landed on Premiere’s 100 Greatest Movie Lines list in 2007.

OK, first things first. Is the line corny? Absolutely. You can’t deny that. However, I believe it’s a necessary corny. The audience needed to see how much winning tickets on the grandest ship in the world meant to both DiCaprio and Nucci’s characters. I think the scene was showing the irony of the situation: Feeling like the luckiest kids on earth as they unknowingly head into a looming disaster.

“This is where we first met.”

If you recall, leading lady Kate Winslet (aka Rose DeWitt Bukater) says this line to DiCaprio on the stern while the Titanic is sinking. For those of you who don’t know, this line wasn’t scripted. In fact, Cameron gives that credit to Winslet.

You have to give Winslet props for coming up with such a meaningful line. The delivery of those six words brings a load of symmetry to the love story between Rose and Jack. The two characters first meet on the stern when Jack prevents Rose from attempting suicide. And when the ship is in its final sinking, Rose and Jack make their way to the back of the Titanic in order to stay out of the freezing water for as long as possible. Clearly, the line is designed to weigh heavy on the heart, and I’m sure Cameron is grateful for Winslet’s romantic ad-lib.

“Wasn’t I a dish?”

Gloria Stuart portrayed the older Rose, who serves as the movie’s narrator. Before she begins her flashback story, she asks to see her drawing — the one of young Rose in nothing but the “heart of the ocean” necklace. When questioned if that’s actually her, older Rose responds, “It is me, dear. Wasn’t I a dish?”

Stuart was the type of actress who never wanted to change the script. However, she had problems saying the original line, which was supposed to be, “Wasn’t I a hot number?” Stuart didn’t think “hot number” was appropriate for the time period her character was from, as to say it was too modern. I agree. Plus, Stuart’s delivery with the substitute phrase works so well in the final cut of the movie that I couldn’t imagine her saying anything else.

“Time for me to go row with the other slaves.”

After Jack saves Rose from jumping off the back of the ship, he is invited to a thank-you dinner by Rose’s fiancé, Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). Of course, Cal and his group don’t know about the suicide attempt. They are led to believe Jack prevented Rose from going overboard after she slipped trying to look at the propellers. Thus, an invitation to dinner ensues.

Clearly, Jack — a third class passenger who happened to win his Titanic ticket during a poker game — couldn't possibly pass for a rich young gentleman. That’s when Molly Brown (Kathy Bates) comes to the rescue and lends him her son’s tuxedo suitable for first-class company. That’s why the original line DiCaprio was supposed to say when leaving the dinner was, “Time for my coach to turn back into a pumpkin.” You know, the whole Cinderella motif. Instead, DiCaprio decided to say, “Time for me to go row with the other slaves.” Cameron opted to use the latter.

I would have, too. It’s a better line. Not to mention, it connects back to older Rose’s voice-over in the first half of the movie. She refers to the Titanic as a “slave ship.” Her quote: “It was the ship of dreams to everyone else. To me it was a slave ship, taking me back to America in chains. Outwardly, I was everything a well brought up girl should be. Inside, I was screaming.”

“Not those finger paintings again.”

When Rose and Cal are moving things into their suite, a scene shows them discussing paintings. Rose defends her taste in art while Cal expresses his disgust, saying “Not those finger paintings again. They certainly were a waste of money.” When Rose announces that the artist’s name is Picasso, Cal smugly says that Picasso “won’t amount to a thing.”

Zane decided to change the script from “mud puddles” to “finger paintings.” I like it. Cal’s character is arrogant, entitled and self-serving. For him to scoff at Picasso’s work and compare them to child’s finger paintings helps illustrate just how much Cal thinks his own opinion is worth.

© 2015 The Norfolk Daily News . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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