By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Great movie, but too intense, racy for younger kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A person's worth is far greater than the station they were born into. Themes include compassion and humility.
Positive Role Models
Jack and Rose transcend societal expectations and fall in love with each other, acting bravely to help save themselves and others. The "haves" for the most part -- excepting Molly Brown, the captain, and the ship architect -- aren't the most admirable lot. Many people onboard act selfishly, like Cal, who pretends a small child is his to get a spot on a lifeboat, or the man who refuses to allow his half-filled lifeboat to return to save more people.
Minimal racial diversity. Central female characters like Rose and Molly Brown are portrayed as strong, nuanced, and in charge of their own destiny, despite pressures around them to act otherwise. Early 20th century class conflicts are a central theme: Privileges of the wealthy are highlighted and criticized, ending with Rose choosing to be identified as a third-class passenger.
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Violence & Scariness
Rose is briefly struck by Cal. Violence and intense peril are concentrated toward the end of the movie, especially as the ship begins to sink: Mass chaos leads to fistfights, pushing, gun violence, even suicide. People plunge to their death in icy waters, some killed by falling debris from the ship. Almost everyone left in the water drowns. Close-ups of passengers who stay on the ship, preferring to await the inevitable in their rooms or lounges.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One scene of a topless woman as she poses for a painting, plus shots of that painting, as well as a few other nude drawings. Jack and Rose flirt, kiss passionately, eventually have sex. The love scene doesn't include any nudity, but the couple is sweaty, out-of-breath, bare-shouldered, on top of each other.
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The most commonly used swear is "s--t," repeated several times throughout. Other strong language includes one "f--k," "horses--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," "hell," "ass," "bloody," and several "goddamns," "oh my Gods," and other exclamations, especially toward the end. Insults include "slut," "whore," and "moron."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
First-class passengers drink wine and champagne with dinner. Men smoke cigars and drink brandy after dinner. Steerage passengers get drunk at a late-night party where beer is plentiful. Jack smokes cigarettes. Rose starts to smoke a cigarette, but her fiancé and mom stop her; she smokes one later after binge-drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that James Cameron's King-of-the-World saga Titanic is one of the highest-grossing movies of all time and is still sure to attract young teen and tween audiences. There's brief nudity (a topless Rose poses for a nude drawing, which is also shown throughout the film) and sexuality (Jack and Rose make love in the backseat of a car), but the forbidden romance between the main characters (played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio) is otherwise rather chaste by today's standards. It's the epic Titanic sinking scene that may make this movie too intense for younger kids. Throughout the mass chaos, people fight to save themselves ahead of others, plunge to watery deaths, and, in some cases, even die by suicide. Three incidents of gun violence take place during the sinking, with visuals of blood and depiction of suicide with a gun. On the flip side, characters display compassion and humility. The fact that this movie is based on a historical event may be too intense for sensitive children, but mature kids fascinated with the Titanic will find it compelling to watch.
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What's the Story?
Director James Cameron frames the story of the TITANIC in the late 1990s, when a high-tech underwater mission uncovers hidden treasures from the legendary ship, including a nude drawing of a beautiful girl. A 101-year-old woman (Gloria Stuart) reveals that she's the woman in the drawing, and viewers are then immersed in the events on board the ship from her point of view. She was Rose (Kate Winslet), a lovely young woman reluctantly engaged to one of the richest men on the ship, the cool and calculating Cal (Billy Zane). Unhappy with her engagement, Rose briefly considers launching herself overboard but is saved by the witty, handsome Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), a third-class passenger who won his Titanic ticket in a poker game. As Jack and Rose grow closer, Cal's jealousy swells, and he eventually frames Jack for stealing. When the ship hits an iceberg, everyone is thrown into a catastrophic, life-and-death situation where wealth and privilege are thrown out the window, relationships are tested, and courage is rare.
Is It Any Good?
One of the highest-grossing movies of all time, this enthralling saga achieved commercial and critical success, winning 11 Oscars out of its 14 nominations. The irresistible love story of Titanic stars two of the best actors of their generation; dazzling visual effects involve the most famous ship disaster of all time; a smug, rich villain is so easy to hate that he should be sporting an evil, twirling mustache; James Horner's score soars, coupled with Celine Dion's hokey-but-touching "My Heart Will Go On" theme; and there are fine performances by supporting actors like Kathy Bates as the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Frances Fisher as Rose's snobby mother, Bernard Hill (known best as King Theoden in that other epic, Lord of the Rings) as Captain Smith, Victor Garber as the Titanic architect, and, of course, Oscar-nominated Stuart as the narrator, Old Rose.
Strong central female characters are the heart of Titanic, along with a look into the differences between social classes. Fans of romance will adore the journey of the star-crossed lovers, while action fans will appreciate the suspense and tension as the ship begins to sink. This is truly a film that has something for nearly everyone.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how in the face of catastrophe, people's true characters were revealed by their choices. How do different people on board the Titanic react to the ship sinking? Who were the bravest? Who were the most selfish?
Has society's emphasis on class changed since the time period depicted in Titanic? What are other social considerations that divide people nowadays? How does Rose's life after the Titanic pay tribute to her brief love affair with Jack?
James Cameron is known for depicting strong, fearless female characters. If you're familiar with his other movies, compare Rose to Ripley (Aliens), Sarah Connor (The Terminator), and Neytiri, Trudy, and Grace (Avatar).
How do the characters in Titanic demonstrate compassion and humility? Why are these important character strengths?
- In theaters: December 19, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: September 10, 2012
- Cast: Billy Zane, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio
- Director: James Cameron
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: History
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Humility
- Run time: 194 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language
- Last updated: March 29, 2023
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