Sunday, 23 May 2010

Scene On A Sunday: Titanic

One of the reasons referred to when Titanic gets his customary bashing is James Cameron horrific writing. You know, I really couldn’t care less about the words – they’re good to me. But I understand their argument. Still, I think there’s a method in his ostensible madness. It’s interesting to note how the two most ostentatious characters (Caledon, Ruth) are the ones with the strangest dialogue. And speaking of Ruth...why is Frances Fisher’s scenery chewing so often forgotten? Sometimes some good scenery chewing is just what I’m in the mood for, and no scene shows off Frances more, though it’s an important for Rose as well.

It’s the morning after the wild part with Jack, and Cal had just done his (now famous) table tossing scene. Rose is being dressed, for church probably. She looks so troubled the scene already is grim.
Of course, that’s the point. She turns around, in apprehension almost, when her mother enters. Rose is already prepared for what’s to come.
Ruth wordlessly begins lacing the corset looking dangerously severe.
She easily slips into her first line to Rose...
You are not to see that boy again, you understand me.
It’s not a question; it’s a simple statement of fact – as far she’s concerned, at least. Rose is already prepared with her look of defiance. It’s in preparation for her response, which is a perfect line from Cameron – even if it’s a little incongruous.
Oh stop it, Mother. You’ll give yourself a nosebleed.

I can’t help but laugh each time I hear. Rose is good and pissed off, and who can blame her with a mother like that?


This is not a game. Our situation’s precarious; you know the money’s gone.
Of course I know it’s gone. You remind me everyday.
Your father left us nothing but a legacy of bad debts hidden by a good name. That name is the only card we have to play.

I’ll admit, the dialogue is funny – perhaps unintentionally so, but isn’t that half the fun? Frances is giving all she has to sell Ruth’s desperation (as selfish as it may be).

I don’t understand you. It is a fine match with Hockley. It will ensure our survival.
Even that sentence formation is strange, as pretentious as can get. I’m probably reading too much into it, but it’s as if Ruth can’t let her guard down not even with her daughter. She continues, accusing Rose of selfishness – a claim even the more misguided of us won’t believe. And Rose isn’t misguided...

I’m being selfish?
But Ruth knows this game well, she’s a consummate schemer. This set of lines is her piece-de-resistance.

Do you want to see me working as a seamstress? Is that what you want?
Frances’ voice cracks just the slightest on that word seamstress.

Rose’s expression is so unreadable...

But Ruth continues...
...to see our fine things sold at auction?

Our memories scattered to the wind.
I love how she covers her mouth there, so completely fake.
          
I reckon Rose realises that too...

Poor girl...

It’s so unfair.
She’s not really replying to her mother, as much as she’s thinking things over to herself. It’s as if the physical closeness between the two still doesn’t assure that they’ll have singularity in thought.

Of course it’s unfair. We’re women. Our choices are never easy.

I like this part, not for the line, but for Ruth’s about-face. Just a moment ago she was covering her mouth in agony, and she’s already strong enough to turn around with an impassive face to deliver this bit of knowledge. It leads into one of the most sinister maternal embraces.
And it ends of course with Ruth ferociously lacing the bodice...
and segues into the next scene...
poor Rose, no wonder she wanted to get away...
     
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3 comments:

Luke said...

Great choice of scene for this movie. Frances Fisher always terrifies me as a result in every subsequent role. I also love her blatant faking it - she's just despicable.

Vanessa said...

Great scene! It is not a scene that I immediately think of when thinking of Titanic. But I always liked it because, as Rose says, it is so unfair that she has to marry someone she doesn't love. Also it really shows this mother daughter relationship and makes it easier to understand why Rose can just leave everything behind at the end.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Excellent stuff. Any positive remarks on "Titanic" warm my heart. I think this scene shows that - whatever your feelings may be on Cameron's dialogue - the man KNOWS how to structure a scene for dramatic effect.

And, of course, this scene is also Kate just bein' Kate (i.e. Brilliant).