Titanic: A Floating City of Social Classes


By Marvin Xylo Bryce Isip

Do you fancy an elegant dinner with the elite? How about a cheap party with the hoi polloi? The 1997 film Titanic is written, directed, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. The RMS Titanic is a floating city; and along with a city is a social ranking: the bourgeoisie, or the upper class, and the proletariat, the lower class. This entire review points out the display of contrast between the social classes in the movie.

The entirety of the story is being told by Rose herself. In 1912 Southampton, she, her mother Ruth DeWitt Bukater, and her fianc� Cal Hockley are first-class passengers who board the grand Titanic. As the ship takes on its maiden voyage, Rose considers jumping from the stern because her mother urges her to marry her now fianc� to resolve their family's financial problems and retain their high-class persona; however, destitute Jack Dawson intervenes and discourages her which earned him an invite from Cal to a first-class dinner the following night. A timid friendship develops between Jack and Rose that led to the latter secretly attending a third-class party with the former. Aware of her fianc�'s and mom's disapproval, Rose declines Jack's approaches but later realized she prefers him over Cal. After the agreement to meet at the bow at sunset, Jack fulfills Rose's request to sketch her wearing the Heart of the Ocean necklace. They elude Cal's bodyguard, Mr. Lovejoy, and have an intimate time in an automobile inside the cargo hold. As they have their personal time on the forward deck, they witness the ship hitting the iceberg. Cal finds Jack's sketch of his fianc�e and an insulting note from her in his safe along with the necklace. Jack is arrested and handcuffed to a pipe when Lovejoy slipped the necklace into Jack's pocket resulting to an accusation of theft. With the ship sinking, Rose left to free Jack. Rose is then persuaded to board a lifeboat as Cal promises to get off safely with Jack. However, as the lifeboat lowers, Rose jumps back on board as she cannot leave Jack. Cal takes his bodyguard's pistol and chases the two all the way downstairs, leaving him with nothing even the coat containing the necklace which he gave to Rose; he later boards a lifeboat by carrying a lost child. After enduring much struggle, Jack and Rose return to the boat deck. Lifeboats have departed leaving the ship's remaining passengers with no choice but to fall to their deaths as the stern rises out of the water. The ship breaks in half and sinks all the way down. Jack helps Rose onto a wooden panel only buoyant enough for her. He says his goodbyes and dies of hypothermia. After letting go of Jack, Rose signaled roaming officers for her to be saved. Rose gives her name as Rose Dawson as she rode RMS Carpathia to New York. Back in the present, Rose drops the Heart of the Ocean into the sea over the wreck site.

Reviewing the movie with the Marxist criticism approach, the film excellently addressed the social differences that spring in the film by containing the juxtaposition of the social classes in the ship that remained divided all throughout the film. The social ranking is evident in the ship almost always. First class passengers were equipped with the best of everything, and the lower class the bare minimum of accommodations. Several minutes into the movie, Jack was told by his friend not to even dream of Rose as he only belongs in the lower class; he knew that people are expected to live only within the boundaries of the social class they were born into. Further looking in, unjust treatment was seen coming from Ruth DeWitt Bukater, Rose's mother, who looked down at Jack for being a third-class passenger at dinner; this is because she strongly favors Cal Hockley, Rose's fianc�, for the sake of their reputation. In Hockley's case, he also raises his social position by degrading Jack's sentiments. In addition to this, when someone commented during the sinking of the ship that lifeboats are scarce, and that half of the passengers would die, Hockley blurted out, "Not the better half." It only shows how privilege is ingrained in the lives of the bourgeoisie as opposed to the marginalized proletariat. Also, a great injustice towards the lower class is the provision of lifeboats; first-class passengers were only a company of twelve in a lifeboat while other lifeboats contain a hefty sixty. A scene even was captured where the commoners eye the privileged when they were in RMS Carpathia leaving the latter silent.

Titanic will always be remembered as a magnificent tragedy movie. It had its own share in addressing social differences that are rampant until today. It was phenomenal - exceptionally great considering it was a film of 1997. The cinematography, editing, official score, public figures, and crew have evidently remarkably delivered to the audience what it wants to convey. It was a long three-hour film but not a single second would bore a watcher due to engaging scenes. It really is a masterpiece lifted from a historical tragedy.

Article Source:  Titanic: A Floating City of Social Classes

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