‘Titanic’ keeps that sinking feeling alive, 20 years on

This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Leonardo DiCaprio, left, and Kate Winslet in a scene from "Titanic." The film is among the 25 movies being added to the prestigious National Film Registry. (Paramount Pictures via AP)
Updated 17 December 2017
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‘Titanic’ keeps that sinking feeling alive, 20 years on

LOS ANGELES: Part saturnine elegy to doomed youth, part exaltation of the transcendent power of love, blockbuster disaster movie "Titanic" is delivering that sinking feeling to a whole new generation of fans.
Tuesday marks two decades since Rose vowed to Jack she'd "never let go" -- before spectacularly reneging on her promise, sending her frozen-to-death paramour to a watery grave and leaving "Titaniacs" worldwide sobbing into their popcorn.
The anniversary has been celebrated with screenings across the United States, and audiences are still swooning over the young lovers played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet -- now both Oscar winners and Hollywood A-listers.
"The Titanic story itself has a timeless quality. It seems to exist outside our daily lives. As this straight moral lesson, it's something that fascinates us," director James Cameron told fans at a Los Angeles screening to mark the milestone.
Winslet's love-struck socialite and DiCaprio's artistic drifter were fictionalized characters in a dramatization of the real-life sinking in 1912 of history's most famous ship after it hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic.
The film, distributed by Paramount at home and Fox abroad, entered into movie history when it picked up 11 Oscars, including best picture and best director for Cameron.
With a worldwide gross of $2.2 billion, it was the most successful movie ever made until Cameron's "Avatar" (2009) took $2.8 billion at the box office.
At an intimidating 195 minutes, the movie can feel in parts as long as the voyage on which it is based, but it earned mostly glowing reviews, and the theme song "My Heart Will Go On" became a global success for Celine Dion.

Cameron, 63, says he sold the idea to Fox executives with "probably the shortest pitch for a major movie in Hollywood history."
"I whipped open this book and in the center is a beautiful double-truck spread right across both pages of a painting by Ken Marschall, the best artist of the subject of the Titanic," he recalled.
"It was a beautiful shot of the rocket going off and lighting up the ship, and lifeboats rowing away as it went down in the more sedate, quiet part of the sinking. I said, 'Romeo and Juliet on that.' Five words."
DiCaprio and Winslet -- then 21 and 20, respectively -- began filming in September 1996, their first scene together the moment in which the actress appears nude for him to paint.
Any awkwardness was short-lived and the pair quickly became close friends, reuniting onscreen a decade later for Sam Mendes's fraught love story "Revolutionary Road."
"They really bonded and they were there for each other through a long, difficult, grueling shoot. They were there to support each other," Cameron said.

The epic proportions of the $200 million production, with its 1,000 extras and crew of more than 800, can hardly be overstated.
Cameron had a full scale model of the ill-fated luxury liner constructed on 40 acres of Mexican waterfront bought by Fox, after receiving the blueprints from the original ship builder.
The rooms were meticulously recreated from old photographs, as was RMS Titanic's first class staircase, mahogany woodwork and gold-plated light fixtures, all of which was destroyed in the sinking scene.
Such was the perceived folly of the bloated production -- then the costliest ever -- that Variety began a daily "Titanic Watch" column, ridiculing what was expected to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history.
A despondent Cameron kept a razor blade taped to the screen of his video editing equipment with an inscription written in pen: "Use in case film sucks."


The movie test-screened to rapturous applause in Minneapolis, however, and Cameron was reassured that he'd actually made a decent movie.
It opened with a domestic haul of $28.6 million and was expected to follow the normal pattern for blockbusters, dropping by 40-50 percent in its second weekend.
Instead, it made another $28 million, and $32 million on the third weekend, eventually securing the top spot for 15 consecutive weeks.
"It just went down by like two percent a week and everybody just felt like we were in this alternate universe where the rules of gravity didn't apply," said Cameron.
Experts theorized that the numbers were being boosted by groups of young teenage girls watching multiple times, but Cameron believes "Titanic" did so well because the love story appealed across generations.
"With all due respect to Kate and Leo, and they're both good friends of mine, it's not Kate and Leo anymore -- it's Jack and Rose," said Cameron.
"And it will always be Jack and Rose. I guess that's what I'm proudest of, that we've created something that has its own reality, that's outside of time, and theoretically that could still be enjoyed indefinitely."


Newly released video shows man believed to be last of tribe

In this 2011 video frame released by Brazil's National Indian Foundation, an uncontacted indigenous man is seen amid the forest, in Rondonia, Brazil. (AP)
Updated 10 min 32 sec ago
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Newly released video shows man believed to be last of tribe

  • The foundation’s policy is to allow such people to live their lives in isolation
  • Brazil is home to several “uncontacted” peoples whose lands, like those of many indigenous groups, are increasingly under threat

SAO PAULO: No one knows his name. No one knows the name of the people he came from. And he appears to have lived alone in Brazil’s Amazon for 22 years.
Video released for this first time this week by Brazil’s Indian Foundation shows rare images of a so-called uncontacted indigenous man who is believed to be the last surviving member of his tribe. The footage was shot in 2011, though a team that tracks him says it last saw evidence he was alive in May.
The shaky images taken from a distance through foliage show a man chopping down a tree. The sound of his ax hitting the trunk and bird calls can be heard.
The video’s release followed a press report that noted there existed only one image of the man, captured by a documentary filmmaker in the 1990s in which the man’s face was hidden behind foliage.
Altair Algayer, coordinator of the team that monitors the man, said the foundation was reluctant to release the video because it could not ask for the man’s consent. But he also noted that such images help to draw attention to the plight of people who are struggling to maintain their distance from the outside world.
“Lots of people are seeking out (this video). They want to know what is he like, how can he be seen, is he still alive,” Algayer said in a phone interview. “I think this ends up helping to protect the territory.”
Brazil is home to several “uncontacted” peoples whose lands, like those of many indigenous groups, are increasingly under threat as the scramble for the resources of the Amazon intensifies. Last year, 71 people were killed in conflicts over land, the most since 2003, according to the Pastoral Land Commission, which tracks the violence.
The Indian Foundation has been monitoring the man since 1996, when it found him already living alone in the forest in Rondonia state. It believes encroachment and attacks by farmers and loggers that began in the 1980s decimated the man’s tribe. The last of his fellow tribesmen appeared to have been killed in an attack in 1995 or 1996. In recent years, though, no one has tried to enter the protected area where lives, the foundation said.
The team that tracks him calls him “the Indian of the hole” because of an unusual hole that he dug, Algayer said.
“We don’t know who he belongs to,” Algayer said, who adds that the man appears to be in good health and between 55 and 60.
The foundation’s policy is to allow such people to live their lives in isolation, but members of the foundation tried initially to make contact with the man since he was alone and they believed him at risk. The man made clear he wanted no contact, and the foundation has not tried again since 2005.
About every other month, a team enters his territory to look for signs that he is still alive and well. They don’t always see him — the last time they did was in 2016 — but they are able to tell he is still alive by traces he leaves behind. A mission in May found fresh footprints and a newly cut tree.
They have left tools and seeds for the man, and they have seen that he has planted corn, potatoes, papayas and bananas.
“This man, who is unknown to us, even after losing everything, including his people and a series of cultural practices, proved that, even like that, alone in the forest, it is possible to survive and resist joining mainstream society,” Algayer said in a statement distributed by the foundation. “I believe he is much better off than if, way back, he had made contact.”