Titanic appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on these single-sided, dual-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the original release packed the movie onto one disc, this one spread it to two. It also gave us an anamorphic transfer instead of the old non-anamorphic one. With that came noticeable improvements in this excellent presentation.
Sharpness was close to flawless. At all times, the movie offered a rock-solid sense of clarity and definition. Virtually no signs of softness popped up along the way, as the film was consistently concise and crisp. I witnessed no jagged edges or shimmering, while both edge enhancement and print flaws seemed absent. This was a clean, distinct image.
Colors were strong. Cameron suffused the film with a wonderfully warm glow that showed up nicely on this DVD. The picture consistently offered strong, vibrant and accurate hues. The costumes came across particularly well, and many of the outdoors, daytime settings also depicted lovely tones. Black levels appeared deep and firm, while shadow detail looked very good, an especially important factor since more than half of this film takes place at night. I saw virtually no problems during the movie, and it narrowly fell short of an “A+”. Put simply, this was a stellar transfer that did justice to the film.
Another change from the prior disc related to the audio. This one included both a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix along with a DTS 6.1 track. Although both were excellent, I preferred the DTS version. I’ll discuss the Dolby one first and then relate the ways in which the DTS track improved on it.
The audio of Titanic showed virtually no problems. The audio used all five channels very well and completely involved the listener within this environment. The sound seemed discrete and well-balanced. It blended together naturally to form a strong three-dimensional soundstage. Most of the information came from the ship-related elements, of course. As the ship soared across the sea in the movie’s first half and then fell to pieces in the second, all the speakers created a life-like and impressive setting that made it feel like we were onboard the vessel.
Even better was the quality of the audio. From start to finish, this track sounded topnotch. Dialogue seemed clear and natural even though much of it must have been dubbed, and it always appeared easily intelligible. James Horner's hit score came across beautifully. The track could deliver it gently or powerfully, depending on the situation.
Best of all were the consistently solid effects. They seemed absolutely realistic at all times and were very clean. The depth of the audio also appeared terrific; this mix really pushed the LFE channel hard, but no problems with boominess occurred. No distortion ever interfered with the audio. Put simply, Titanic sounded terrific.
Why did I prefer the DTS track? It presented a moderately more involving setting with slightly stronger audio. As good as the Dolby mix sounded, the DTS one was just a little richer and more natural. It also blended the five speakers in a smoother manner. There wasn’t an enormous difference between the two, but the DTS mix was amazing while the Dolby one wasn’t quite as stellar. That meant the DTS version earned my highest accolade: an “A+” grade.
Back in 2005, Paramount released an excellent three-disc 2005 Collector’s Edition DVD of Titanic. This “10th Anniversary Edition” simply lops off the third disc and repackages DVDs One and Two. That means the movie picture and sound quality remain identical to the 2005 release.
And that means exactly the same extras that we found on Discs One and Two. The set starts with three separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director James Cameron as he presents a running, screen-specific chat. Cameron discusses factual elements of the film and liberties taken, shooting underwater and various forms of effects, casting, characters, and working with the actors, the script and story, stunts, locations and sets, and general notes from the shoot.
This is only Cameron’s fourth commentary, but the other three – for Aliens, T2 and Solaris – were all excellent. His Titanic discussion is also quite good, but it’s not in the same class as its predecessors. To be sure, Cameron gives us a very nice view of the flick’s creation, and we receive a good feel for all the measures used and challenges faced.
That said, I think things remain a little too technical. At times it feels like he mostly wants to impress us with the film’s authenticity, and the nuts and bolts aspects get a bit tedious. However, whatever disappointment I feel is relative. I admit I expected greatness from this commentary since the other Cameron tracks are so good. While not excellent, this is still a very solid overview of the production and well worth a listen. I’ll probably like it more next time I screen it.
For the second track, we hear from cast and crew. This commentary packs in a large number of participants. We get remarks from executive producer Rae Sanchini, producer Jon Landau, deep dive technical coordinator Ralph White, second unit director Steve Quale, first assistant director Josh McLaglen, re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom, art director Martin Laing, camera operator Jimmy Muro, choreographer/etiquette coach Lynne Hockney, costume designer Deborah Scott, visual effects supervisors Robert Skotak and Rob Legato, composer James Horner, music editor Joe Rand, director of photographer Russell Carpenter, production designer Peter Lamont, unit production manager Kevin de la Noy, sound designer/re-recording mixer Christopher Boyes, stunt coordinator Simon Crane, associate editor Roger Barton, and actors Bill Paxton, Lewis Abernathy, Gloria Stuart, Kate Winslet, Frances Fisher, Danny Nucci, Jonathan Hyde, Jason Barry, Billy Zane, Victor Garber, Bernard Hill, Jenette Goldstein, Ioan Gruffudd, Ewan Stewart, Ellen Mower, Judy Prestininzi, and Suzy Amis. Obviously the size of the roster necessitates edits, as I think only Landau and Sanchini sit together. The track’s producers combine the many elements well, though, and they turn this into a smooth discussion.
And an extremely informative one, too. The commentary covers a vast number of subjects. We get notes about the expeditions to film the real Titanic, the cast and their performances, all form of effects, sets and their dressing/props, location elements, music and audio, editing and cut sequences, Cameron’s style on the set, and a variety of general anecdotes and notes.
If there’s any stone left unturned, I can’t think of it. Of course, some subjects get more time than others, but all receive good attention. The discussions are lively and fairly frank, though not brutally so; for instance, we get veiled references to Cameron’s abrasive nature but nothing terribly strong. In any case, this commentary adds a tremendous amount of good information and provides an excellent look at many aspects of the production.
Lastly, we get a track with historians/consultants Don Lynch and Ken Marschall, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. As one might assume, they mostly get into issues related to the facts behind the movie. They tell us what parts of the movie accurately reflect reality and which take artistic license. They also chat about their experiences during the making of Titanic and give us some notes about the shoot. The best parts appear during the movie’s second half, as they delve into the specifics of the sinking.
Overall, the discussion helps flesh out some historical issues, but it falls short of becoming truly rich and informative. The guys devote a lot of the track to praise for the film, and that gets old. I think this commentary would have been better if it’d come from people not involved with the production. Lynch and Marschall don’t have any distance from the film, so I don’t know how objectively they view it. This track offers generally good notes, but it suffers from too much happy talk to provide a strong examination of historical issues.
Also spread across DVDs One and Two, we get a Behind the Scenes Mode. This is a “branching” feature you can access in two different ways. If you activate it to run during the movie, occasionally a little sinking ship icon will appear; hit “enter” to watch the clip in question. In addition, you can check out the snippets on their own in a separate area. Taken all together, we get 61 pieces that last a total of 65 minutes, eight seconds.
As implied by the title, these focus on behind the scenes materials, and they also feature comments from the participants. We hear from returning speakers Cameron, Landau, Sanchini, Laing, Stuart, Winslet, Abernathy, Legato, Marschall, Lynch, Skotak, Nucci, Quale, Carpenter, Bates, Lamont, Scott, Fisher, Garber, Hockney, Barry, McLaglen, Crane, and Mower. In addition, we get comments from these new folks: motion control operator Jim Rider, model crew chief Gene Rizzardi, art director Bill Rhea, visual effects cameraman Dennis Skotak, assistant costume designer David Le Vey, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, digital artist Judith Crow, visual effects supervisor Richard Hollander, production supervisor Gig Rackauskas, co-producer Sharon Mann, historian George Mehe, and vocalist Celine Dion.
In a way, these 61 clips act as a sort of video commentary, for they correspond to the film as it progresses. These nicely complement the other commentaries because they focus more on the technical elements. We don’t learn a ton about effects in those tracks, but we get good coverage of those elements here. We find out a great deal about the challenges related to the recreation of the ship and all attached concerns. These go into various effects as well as stunts, camerawork, props and sets.
A few other topics like the characters and actors also pop up, and we learn a little more about the history, the story and the costumes. The elements mentioned dominate, though, and they come to life well via all the behind the scenes footage. We see nice examples of the elements as the snippets demonstrate the subjects. I wouldn’t want to use the branching aspect of this feature, as I think it would distract from the movie too much. However, taken separately, they’re very interesting and informative.
Over on DVD Two, fans will be delighted to find the film’s alternate ending. Presented anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, this nine-minute and 28-second clip differs from the current ending in only one significant way: the manner in which Rose disposes of the necklace. It’s fun to see but was definitely a good omission, as it mars the movie’s emotional arc.
We can watch the ending with or without commentary from Cameron. Informative as always, he tells us about the scene and why he cut it. Cameron already told us a little about the segment in his feature commentary, but he brings out additional data in this useful track.
Finally, DVD Two ends with a music video for Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. I can’t stand Celine, but I must admit I maintain a soft spot for the song, mostly because I associate it with my fondness for the movie. Unfortunately, it’s a dull video, as it uses the standard lip-synch/movie clip format. Yeah, it puts Celine on a ship setting, but it brings nothing creative to the genre.
What do we lose with the omission of DVD Three? A lot! If you’re curious, go back to my review of the 2005 set, as there’s too much to recap here. Suffice it to say that the new release drops an awful lot of good content.
Indeed, my letter grade for the extras may seem misleading. I gave the 2005 release an “A+” but only dropped it to a “B+“ for this package. That may not sound like much of a dip, but I think it represents a pretty significant decline. The 2005 release really packs in the extras. This one has a lot of great stuff but can’t measure up with the old package.
Many naysayers will disagree, but I still think Titanic heartily deserved all its critical and financial success. Though the movie has its flaws, this is clearly one of those examples in which the whole is more valuable than the sum of its parts. Moving, entertaining and stunning at times, Titanic remains an exceptional film. And it’s also a very good DVD. The movie looks and sounds absolutely amazing, and the supplements add a lot of good material.
On its own, this “10th Anniversary Edition” of Titanic is a winner, but unfortunately, the existence of the 2005 Special Collector’s Edition renders it pretty irrelevant. That set offered the same very high picture and audio quality as this one along with a lot more supplements. It’s a nearly definitive release of Titanic.
So if you already own the 2005 SCE, there’s absolutely no reason to pursue the 10th Anniversary release. If you don’t have the 2005 set, I’d recommend you get it. The only circumstance under which I think a purchase of the 10th Anniversary package makes sense would be if you can get it cheaper than the SCE and also don’t really care about extras. For me, the SCE remains the one to beat.
To rate this film visit the original review of TITANIC