'Titanic' To Be Released in 3-D: Why It Won't Work

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Paramount Pictures


As if re-releasing Avatar this summer weren't a questionable enough move for James Cameron, he's also announced a new plan to convert his other epically popular film—Titanic—into a 3-D experience.

It's not hard to imagine why Cameron made this decision—thanks to Avatar, critics are crowing about 3-D as the future of cinema—but it is hard to think of a worse movie to be rendered into the third-dimension.

Cameron said at Comic Con that the reworked 3-D portions of Titanic he'd previewed looked "spectacular." Which may very well have been true, depending on what part of the movie he saw. There are shots that would lend themselves quite well to 3-D—the steam-room inside the belly of the ship, far-off views of it being loaded before it sets off, any depictions of churning arctic waters.

But none of these are the stuff that carries the movie. At its core, Titanic is a love story, not an action movie, and turning it 3-D would mock any sort of earnestness that may have been attached to it. Perhaps with 3D glasses on, the ship cracks in half with more gusto than before, but what about when Rose lets go of his hand and Jack's lifeless body slips into the ocean? The bodice-ripping romantic scenes and stilted phrases ("I'm King of the world!") in the original version of Titanic already push it deep into the embarrassment zone, and 3-D will make it much, much worse.

There's the romantic climax when Jack holds Rose's arms aloft at the stern of the boat and the camera pans around to her rapturous face. This was hard enough to watch without stifling a self-conscious little giggle the first time around, but in the new movie Celine Dion's warbling masterpiece will be accompanied by Kate Winslet's gigantic, bejeweled cleavage protruding into the audience.

And then there's the sex scene. It's one thing to go to an action movie or a Pixar film and put on those lame-looking shades. It's another thing altogether to don them in the presence of sexual content. Yes, Avatar has a sex scene—it resembled Jar-Jar Binks making love to a clone of himself—but I predict that people will find Titanic's real-life human nudity popping out at them pretty disconcerting.

The 3-D version of Titanic isn't slated for release until 2010, by which time the public will have seen even more 3-D movies. Possibly by then, all movies will be filmed in 3-D and we will be used to seeing body parts flail out at us from on-screen love scenes.

Still, Cameron previously said he was not a fan of movies who made the switch from 2-D to 3-D after filming, and he should stick with that. Perhaps Cameron should take a moment out from tallying potential profits to consider the affect 3-D would actually have on the movie.

In case anyone needs more convincing that the Titanic remake would be ridiculous, picture any of the scenes from the trailer in reworked into 3-D:

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Jessica Olien is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. She has previously worked as a reporter in Asia and the Middle East.

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