When Titanic cruised into theatres 25 years ago

Director James Cameron never wanted the special effects in his movie Titanic to be the star of the film. "Everything was meant to serve the love story," he told CBC in 1997.

Movie became the highest-grossing film of all time by the end of its theatrical run in 1998

Two stars of the movie Titanic and director James Cameron at an awards show
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 1998, file photo, Director James Cameron, centre, poses with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio after winning the awards for Best Dramatic Motion Picture and Best Director for the film "Titanic" at the 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

More than 110 years have passed since the ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland and sank.

And this December marks 25 years since a movie inspired by the 1912 disaster cruised into theatres and soared. Titanic would go on to win 11 Oscars, including one for best picture, at the Academy Awards in 1998. 

A variety of CBC-TV programs, from local news broadcasts like 1st Edition in Halifax and Winnipeg's 24Hours to national programs like On the Arts and Midday, previewed or reviewed the film when it was released.

Since then, Titanic became the highest-grossing movie of all time by the end of its theatrical run in 1998 and remains the third-highest-grossing globally..

'Kind of a lyricism'

Brent Bambury interviews James Cameron in 1997

25 years ago
Duration 7:49
The director of the movie Titanic talks to CBC upon the film's release. Aired Dec. 18, 1997 on CBCs Midday.

On CBC's Midday, host Brent Bambury described the visual effects in two scenes of the film and said they were "incredible" and "magical" when he interviewed director James Cameron on Dec. 18, 1997. He asked Cameron if the film's technical accomplishments represented a career high for him.   

"The visual effects are very advanced, and there are many of them, and they cost a lot of money," said Cameron. "But they're not in your face all the time as the star of the film. They're serving the storytelling and they're being used to create a kind of a lyricism." 

"Everything was meant to serve the love story."

'Kind of adolescent romance'

CBC's On the Arts reviews Titanic in 1997

25 years ago
Duration 3:05
Director James Cameron's movie looks impressive when the ship is going down, but the script is all wet, says reviewer Christopher Heard. Aired on CBC's On the Arts on Dec. 18, 1997.

That same day, host Laurie Brown and movie reviewer Christopher Heard discussed the film on the program On the Arts on the all-news TV channel CBC Newsworld.

"When the sinking starts, Cameron is in his element, and there is about 40 or 50 minutes of truly breathtaking stuff here," Heard said. 

The movie was good and "almost great" when the action allowed the director to perform visually, he added.

"But you have to sit through this long, kind of adolescent romance that doesn't quite work and is betrayed by weak writing," he said. 

He singled out the performance of actor Billy Zane, who he said "hams all over the screen." 

"I think it's probably best set for 12-year-old fanatics of the Titanic," said Brown.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, seemed to agree. Titanic was nominated for 14 awards, but screenwriting wasn't one of them.

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