"Twilight," with its built-in Twi-hard fan base, has established Edward and Bella as the It Couple of the early 'Aughts. But Hollywood's greatest story of love, loss and an iceberg represents the epitome of original movie magic.
True to Celine Dion's pledge that "My Heart Will Go On," the "Titanic" romance between Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) has gone on and on in the hearts of fans for the past 15 years, a veritable half-century in Hollywood years. Edward and Bella can never live up to that, despite my colleague's admirable argument to the contrary.
Here are five reasons that in another 15 years, teenage girls (and their mothers) will still be promising Jack -- not Edward -- that they'll never let go.
It takes a full 38 minutes for Jack to introduce himself to Rose, and what an unforgettable meet-cute it is. Rose, heels clicking on the aft rail, is about to ask the North Atlantic to help announce the cancellation of her engagement to wealthy blowhard Cal (Billy Zane). Jack, foreshadowing his own doom, insists that if she goes overboard, he'll dive into the icy waters after her. After Jack talks Rose out of suicide, and she lies to explain why he's at her side, they forge an immediate bond that's sealed when Jack accepts Cal's invitation to dinner.
It's dinnertime aboard the ship. He's in white-tie and tails. She's on the grand staircase. Their eyes meet. His lips kiss her silk-gloved hand. The audience sighs. Breathtaking. Even when Jack and Rose aren't living it up in first class, they still share an intense attraction. Spitting off the side of the ship, discussing his artistic talents and dancing a jig in steerage -- every on-screen moment between Jack and Rose builds a passion that leads to plenty of (literal) steamy scenes. It's been 15 years, but the heart still quickens when you think of Jack sketching Rose wearing nothing but the Heart of the Ocean diamond, or that handprint on a fogged window.
"I'm too involved now. You jump, I jump," Jack tells Rose during his game-changing declaration of love. Their relationship lasts only days, but alters Rose's entire life -- proving that you don't need promises of eternity or supernatural strength to forge an everlasting love. What's amazing about Jack and Rose's love affair is that they consider each other equals, despite their differences in status or experience. Jack challenges Rose to break free of the trappings of her wealth, and Rose recognizes Jack as a man of extraordinary talents that belie his limited means. Even as the ship begins its inevitable collapse, Jack and Rose stay true to each other, fighting for every breath.
James Cameron's "Titanic" made the record books. The highest-grossing film for 12 years (dethroned only in 2009 by "Avatar," another epic love story by Cameron), it won 11 Academy Awards, a feat matched by only two other movies in Oscar history: "Ben-Hur" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." "Titanic" remains the ultimate example of a movie with both audience and critical appeal, and it's all due to the captivating central romance. While "Twilight" is undeniably popular, not one of its installments has ever received the kind of phenomenal box-office or critical response that "Titanic" enjoyed.
I concede that the universe inhabited by "Twilight" fans is a rich, powerful world. The "Twilight" franchise was, after all, a best-selling young adult series before Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson ever entered the minds of author Stephenie Meyer's fans. But "Titanic" fans, or specifically Jack and Rose devotees, don't have Teams about whom the heroine should end up with (that Cal is eeevil!); they're unanimously in favor of the movie's One True Pair. The movie was such a phenomenon Leo got mobbed by crying girls everywhere he went, and posters of the pair adorned adolescents' rooms around the world. And let's not forget how many post-1997 weddings used Dion's love theme as their first dance.
Jack and Rose's love is as momentous as the ship on which it was born. The "Titanic" may have ultimately sunk, but the love story of Jack and Rose will go on.