The movie TITANIC came out in 1997, but I think it is as popular as ever with girls. I know my two teen-age daughters seem to want to watch every time it comes on TV.
Terry Mattingly is a nationally syndicated columnist, who typically writes on religious issues. The follow is a column he wrote on the movie TITANIC, just a few months after it appeared in theaters:
‘Titanic’ Theology Sinks on Vice
By Terry Mattingly
Scripps Howard News Service
Soon after Titanic opened, director James Cameron ventured into cyberspace to field questions.
One mother described how her young daughter sat spellbound through the romance between a first-class girl trapped in a loveless engagement and a starving artist who liberates her, then surrenders his life to save her in the icy North Atlantic. As they left the theater, the mother said, her daughter noticed older girls weeping.
“It's OK. Don’t worry,” the child said, giving one girl a hug. “Rose is with her Jack now.”
“That's so sweet,” wrote Mr. Cameron.
With receipts of $1.1 billion and rising, Titanic has changed how at least one generation views one of this century's most symbolic events.
For millions, the Titanic is now a triumphant story of how one upper crust girl found salvation - body and soul - through sweaty sex, modern art, self-esteem lingo and social rebellion.
Titanic is a passion play celebrating the moral values of the 1960s as sacraments. Rose sums it up by saying that she could abandon her old life and family because her forbidden lover “saved me in every way that a person can be saved.”
“Titanic reminds me of the distinctions between people of faith and secularists,” says conservative commentator Elizabeth Farah. “While all agree that death is inevitable and very often unexpected, the religious and secularists do not agree on the behavior life's fragility should promote. Those of faith know they may meet their Maker at any moment, at which time they will account for their sins. Their fear and deep love for God inspires them in their constant struggle for righteousness. To the secularist, life is short - get what you want, when you want it, and in whatever way necessary.”
“The heroes of this modern Titanic fit into this latter category,” says Ms. Farah. “Their sins become virtues because they are rebelling against people who are portrayed as even worse. This isn’t just a bad movie,” she adds. “It is manipulative and fundamentally immoral.”
Father Patrick Henry Reardon, a philosophy professor and Orthodox priest, goes even further in the next issue of the ecumenical journal Touchstone. The people who built the Titanic were so proud of their technology that they boasted that God couldn't sink their ship.
Today, the creators of Titanic substitute romantic love as the highest power. Jack is Rose's savior, and he does more than save her life.
“Had that been all that happened I would not have complained,” says, Father Reardon. “But they made that Christ symbol into a very attractive anti-Christ. The line that set me off I believe also to have been the ... defining line of the film: the assertion that the sort of saving that Jack did was, ultimately, the only kind of saving possible. If that were the thesis statement of the film, then I start looking for the cloven hoof and sniffing for brimstone.”
I see art—movies, books, TV shows, paintings, music—to be a culture’s Bible. Art conveys, even when the artist does not intend it, the spiritual values of a culture. Consequently, I appreciate Mattingly’s column. It is several years old, but it still makes me think.