Titanic – Media coursework

Over the past 100 years films have developed into a very popular form of media. People now can go to the cinema to watch films as well as see them at home on video and DVDs or on television. Films primarily are for entertainment. Watching films is also a social activity, people have get togethers to rent films or go to the cinema with groups of friends, it is also an obvious choice of activity for a first date. This gives people an excellent opportunity to have something to talk about when the film is over.

Some films become popular with children, some become huge box-office blockbusters. Some films gain almost a cult status as people decide that the film offers the audience an allegorical statement about society and the cultural situation at the time. Star Wars, Pulp Fiction and With Nail And I are just a few examples of this. Film, as a medium must be considered in terms of its separate genres. Certain genres attract stereotypical audiences. Those films which break box-office records however tend to be complex enough to have storylines borrowed from different genres.

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For example, Titanic start out being a romantic film, this would perhaps attract couples though mainly females. It is also an action-adventure, (when the ship starts to sink) this would attract male audience members. By entertaining both men and women it attracts a much bigger audience. The differences and advantages of the cinema over videos and DVDs is that in cinemas you get more of an effect with what happens in the film, and you get sound coming from all around you, whereas at home watching videos and DVDs the atmosphere is different and the sound isn’t as powerful and causing tension.

In cinemas you also get to hear other people’s reaction to something that happens in the film, whereas at home you don’t as there are not as many people and you can tell how people might react when you’re at home as you know the people, where in the cinema you don’t know the people and are unsure on how they will react to certain things. Different camera shots are used in films because it shows different angles and areas in the scene, and also what a certain character sees. Theme songs or soundtrack songs when released as records often use clips from the film in the video. These two media surf along on the wave of each other’s popularity.

It also helps if a well-known artist is singing because their fans are more likely to go to see the film. Costume and set are important because they give the audience instant information about the social and historical context about the film. Clothes that you see the characters in Titanic wear depend on their class, or rank in society. Rose (Kate Winslet) for example you see her with expensive, posh dresses as she was rich (due to the arranged marriage to Cal) and she was travelling first class, whilst Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was in third class and was dressed in poor and old tatty clothes.

Another comparison between the classes was the rooms, first class had expensive luxurious areas to dine and dance and meet with people, tables with tablecloths on silver cutlery whilst third class had cramped spaces and unhygienic living conditions, the tables didn’t have cloths on and were just generally the total opposite of first class, people in the third class seemed to enjoy themselves more than first class also.

Sound effects are used in films to evoke emotion and make the scene sound more realistic, as when you watch a scene of a film whilst its on mute it doesn’t look as realistic it looks totally fake but when sound effects are included the scene sounds a lot different and looks better aswell. Characters are used in films because they help the audience build relationships with the film, they also build up emotions toward the characters for example love, anger and hatred. Good examples of love in films is in the character of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic) as females fell in love with him as he was seen to be good looking.

A good example of anger and hatred in films is in the character or Darth Vader in Star Wars, he was the bad guy of the film. These are good examples of how people build relationships with the films. For my piece of coursework I’m going to be analysing to the best of my ability James Cameron’s 1998 box office hit film “Titanic”. Disaster:- noun. Sudden or great misfortune, calamity; complete failure. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary). Tragedy:- noun. Sad event, calamity; serious accident. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary). Titanic and its sinking became overnight probably the most talked about disaster ever.

Titanic the name of the ship, which was chosen by J. Bruce Ismay, was chosen to convey a sense of overwhelming size and strength. Construction of Titanic began in March 1909 and was due to start her maiden voyage on March 20th 1912, which was then set back to April 10th due to Olympic suffering a collision and requiring extensive repairs. The ship was 883 feet long (1/6 of a mile), 92 feet wide and weighed 46,328 tons. She was 104 feet tall from keel to bridge, almost 35 feet of which were below the waterline… even so, she stood taller above the water than most urban buildings of the time.

She was the largest movable object ever made by man. The ship had a double-hull of 1-inch thick steel plates and a system of 16 water-tight compartments, sealed by massive doors which could be instantly triggered by a single electric switch on the bridge, or even automatically by electric water-sensors. The press began to call her “unsinkable”. The original design called for 32 lifeboats. However White Star (the makers of the ship) management felt that the boat-deck would look cluttered, and so reduced the number to 20, for a total lifeboat capacity of 1178.

This actually exceeded the regulations of the time, even though Titanic was capable of carrying over 3500 people, both passengers and crew. The journey began at Southampton on Wednesday April 10th 1912 at noon. On Sunday, April 14th, the fifth day at sea, Titanic received five different ice warnings, but Captain Edward J. Smith was not overly concerned, on the night of the same day, wireless operator Phillips received a sixth ice warning, but he didn’t realise how close the boat was to the position of the warning, and that message was put aside, never reaching Captain Smith or any of the bridge officers.

At 11:40pm a lookout in the crow’s nest spotted an iceberg dead ahead. He notified the bridge and First Officer Murdoch ordered the ship turned hard to port, he signalled the engine room to reverse direction, full astern. The ship turned slightly, but it was much too large, moving much too fast (approximately 22 knots), and the iceberg was much too close. 37 seconds later the boat hit the ice. My opinion was that this disaster could have been avoided, or the effects couldn’t have been as bad, if the men in the crow’s nest had spotted the iceberg sooner, but because of lack of equipment they didn’t see it until it was too late.

As the ship didn’t have a pair of binoculars, they had been left in Southampton. Even if the crow’s nest had had the binoculars they might not have seen the ice, as it was what is known as a “black” iceberg. What we class as a normal coloured iceberg (white) would have maybe shown up from a distance giving the ship time to move and avoid it but as it had turned upside down and the bottom was in the air it was what you could say as ‘inevitable’. With it being a “man made” disaster it makes the film more tragic because what happens/happened shouldn’t have done, it could have been prevented.

James Cameron’s film gives people a fairly accurate representation of the disaster, as major points are the same for example the boat hitting the iceberg, breaking in half and sinking, the lack of lifeboats on the ship, he also uses the names of the Captain and others members of crew and some passengers on the ship. Cameron also uses the same ship name, Carpathia, the boat in which saved the survivors off the boat. The idea of watertight compartments and if 4 got flooded and didn’t sink the ship was also the same.

A lot of research went into the making and producing of the film, to make it such a huge blockbuster and such a likeness to the original. We first meet Rose at 101 years old because it adds atmosphere to the film, as it is a survivors recollection of what happened, and it shows the things that she did in her life reflects those few days she spent on board the ship, and the impact Jack had on her life and other things. We first see the wreck because it helps to set some background to the film, seeing actual footage of the ship sets atmosphere. It also is supposed to help bring back Rose’s memories on board.

We are introduced to Brock Lovett because he is an historian looking for the “heart of the ocean” which is a very expensive diamond necklace which was supposed to have sunk with the ship, he says that he is looking at the ship but really the necklace is what he is after n he doesn’t know that Rose has it and that it never sunk with the ship. Lovett is also introduced because its his story on the news that Rose hears about and realises what he wants and that she’s the person who can help him. When and where we first meet some of the characters and what impression are we given?

Young Rose – Stepping out of the car looking at the ship, beginning of the film. We get the impression that she’s young and very rich. Old Rose – Sat at her clay pot machine, listening to the news, gets up and walks toward the television, very beginning of the film. We get the impression of an old lady who’s frail and weak but has had a fulfilling life. Jack – Playing a card game for 2 tickets on the ship, beginning of the film. We get the impression he’s poor and desperate to see his family in America. Cal – Helping young Rose out of the car, beginning of the film. We get the impression he’s young, rich and posh.

Rose’s mother – Sat in the car waiting for young Rose to get out, beginning of the film. We get the impression she’s middle-aged, rich and posh. Brock – On vessel in the Atlantic near the wreckage site looking for the “heart of the ocean”, just before we meet old Rose. We get the impression he’s a historian looking for some history that is supposed to have gone down with the ship. Cameron uses one first class passenger and one steerage class because there is a big difference in how the two classes live and get treated on board the ship, also to prove that u don’t have to fall in love with someone in the same class/wealth status as yourself.

Setting is important to a film because it helps to set the scene and helps people understand background and meaning to the film. Cameron focuses on two fictional characters because it enables him to make a gripping love and tragedy story at once, and he can make the characters do what he wanted them to do not what history did. I think that Cameron chose to let Jack die in the sea because it helps to convey the idea about not enough lifeboats so many people died and also helps make the story a tragic love story.

He let Rose die at the end because it helps people know that the time spent on the ship and the people on board have an effect on your life. Cameron’s intention when he made the film was so that he could replay as best he could history and make it into a gripping love story whilst doing that. He was successful at achieving this as it became a very well know film and helps get emotions between the audience and characters building up. It also made both Cameron and the actors and actresses in the film a lot of money and worldwide fame.