The Canadian, 63, an accomplished scuba diver already acclaimed for action films The Terminator and Aliens, admitted his motivation for making a film about ‘a big ship that sinks’ was wanting to dive to the real wreck of the Titanic, whose remains weren’t discovered until 1985.In 20 Cameron and his team made multiple dives in submersibles to capture footage of the Titanic wreckage, more than two miles below the Atlantic, using a state-of-the-art camera system.THE STAR CAUGHT HYPOTHERMIAThe scenes in which passengers struggled in the sea were shot in a 350,000-gallon, 3ft-deep tank of water which Cameron has insisted was heated to a moderate 80 degrees, claiming ‘it was really like a pool’ and that the ‘cold, frigid breath’ was added later with special effects.Winslet might beg to differ — she refused to wear a wetsuit under her costume so her shivers would look more convincing. Twenty lifeguards kept the cast safe, but anyone thinking of leaving the water for a loo break was threatened with the sack. AND £1.8bn IN PROFITSPerhaps unsurprisingly given the effort involved, Titanic — whose release date was delayed five months — went wildly over budget.The actress who played ‘old Rose’ in the film (Gloria Stuart who, at 87, was the only cast member alive when the Titanic sank and the oldest person ever to be nominated for an Oscar) and gives her modern-day account of the tragedy, owned a Pomeranian — one of three dogs to survive the Titanic’s sinking.Unknown to Cameron until after filming, there was even a real J. A SOAKING FOR VINTAGE FINERYPart of Titanic’s appeal is the lavish period drama clothing, which took a staff of 50 costume designers a year to source.‘The scale was just incredible,’ recalls costume designer Deborah Lynn Scott, who scoured the globe gathering a museum’s worth of original pieces from the Edwardian era to help her achieve the detail required. The jaw-dropping moment when the ship split in two.
The front section of the boat had a mechanism that allowed it to sink 30ft while the highest deck could rise by 90 degrees — crucial for the scenes in which the ship split in two.‘The enormity of it was overwhelming,’ says the film’s director of photography, Russell Carpenter.
The fates of the lovers, played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio, coupled with heart-stopping action scenes as the boat sinks, caught the imagination of cinema-goers everywhere.
Little wonder, given that no detail was overlooked in creating the staggering £150 million production, which won an amazing 11 Oscars and became the second-highest grossing movie ever.
Few will have forgotten their experience of watching Titanic, the audaciously ambitious film released 20 years ago this month.
Based on the real-life story of the British passenger liner that hit an iceberg in 1912, it relays the horror through the eyes of fictional society girl Rose De Witt Bukater, about to be married off by her widowed mother for money, and third-class passenger Jack Dawson, who is smitten with Rose.
In 1998, Titanic was nominated for 14 Oscars and won 11 — a feat never surpassed and equalled only by two other films: Ben-Hur (1959) and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King (2003).