When James Cameron unleashed his original vision of this massive  film in 1997, following a two-year production period, the world welcomed it with great enthusiasm. I’m sure you remember.  Despite several attempts during the 20th century at filming this improbable story of an “unsinkable” ship going down on her very first voyage, none came close to the scope of Cameron’s version. Breathtaking in every sense, Cameron’s Titanic captured the imaginations of movie audiences everywhere.

And what was not to love? The tale of  inter-class lovers aboard the doomed ship, itself a microcosm of Amerian society during the fast-moving 1910s, was overlaid quite nicely against the story of class, arrogance, and tragedy that literally no one could make up.

But as time passed, revisionists popped up, pointing out clunky dialogue, plot inconsistencies, weariness with Celine Dion, and a general I’m-over-it attitude. You know what I’m talking about. This line of thinking caught on, and for the last eight or ten years, Titanic couldn’t get no respect.

Until now.

Sign me up in the “new revisionist” movement. Titanic 3D is here and it has reminded me of why I loved the movie in the first place, why I paid to see it five times in the theaters, and why I hated it on television.

This is probably the most blatant example of why they still show movies in theaters. Why people will still pay outrageous admission prices ($26.50 for two, in my case) and the well-known ripoff popcorn prices to sit in the dark with a roomful of strangers and watch a story unfold on a really, really big screen. This is how such films were intended to be seen.

There are no additional scenes here, no director’s-cut ego exercise, no alternate ending regarding the diamond necklace. It’s the identical film you saw fifteen years ago. The 3D process doesn’t even provide much extra wow factor, like it does in other movies. That’s because  the original film didn’t allow for any such moments–no animals leaping out of the screen, no spears flung into the audience, no spaceships exploding into our laps. The third dimension effect in Titanic 3D is not intended to blow our minds, but to make the whole story much more real, to obliterate the final cinematic gulf between the ship and the audience.

During the pre-iceberg half of the movie, the 3D allowed me a new familiarity with the unlikely tale of the Titanic and drew me deeper into the narrative. Toward the end, the escalating shipwide panic became far more palpable, and I almost felt as though I were actually clinging to the rail with Leonardo DiCaprio and the impossibly beautiful Kate Winslet when the broken half of the ship headed downward.

The incredible drama surrounding this ill-fated vessel and the era in which it was built made for a blockbuster movie in 1997. It’s almost certain not to repeat that boxoffice performance in 2012, but there’s no denying that Titanic 3D is a worthy addition to the collection of retellings of this century-old epic tale, a powerful story which is sure to resonate for centuries to come, a story that will never die.

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