There have been several films about the maiden voyage of White Star Line's Titanic in 1912. There was the 1953 "Titanic" with Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck and a young Robert Wagner. Then in 1958 there was "A Night To Remember" directed by Roy Ward Baker who went on to give us television shows like "The Saint" and "The Avengers". The 1964 musical "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" with Debbie Reynolds recognized the celebrity as one who survived. And there have been a half dozen or so documentaries about the ship.


In each case... the ship sinks. Oh, sorry for the spoiler. In case you didn't know it, the Titanic sinks in the icy Atlantic killing 1,514 people.


In 1997 director James Cameron, then of "Terminator" fame, gave us yet another version of the story "Titanic". Not the most original title indeed. Moreover, at 194 minute (three hours and some change) it was over an hour longer than both "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" - which encapsulated a woman's entire life including the sinking - and "A Night to Remember" which managed to tell the story in two hours. The 1953 "Titanic" got the ship to the bottom in a little over one and a half hours.

In Cameron's version, the ship leaves Queenstown England, sails a couple of days, hits an ice berg and... sinks.


Okay, okay, there's a tad more - but that's a brief summery for the two or three people on this planet who have not seen the film. In reality the story is told in retrospective by a elderly woman, Rose Butaker(Gloria Stuart) who revisits the place where the ship sank so that she can see the first images of the sunken ship; a novel idea since Dr. Robert Ballard had recent found the wreck in 1985.


She recalls the events of her passage aboard the ship with her socialite mother Ruth Dewitt Bukater (Frances Fisher) and her equally socialite fiance Cal (Billy Zane). She meets, almost immediately, a lowly third class passenger named Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) who is a starving artist aboard ship only after he and his friend won passage.

As the younger Rose (Kate Winslet), she was quite taken by Jack's slovenly charm and quickly falls in love with him - much to the dismay of Cal.


From here on it is the the good girl meets the bad boy whom everyone objects too, even when they feign interest in him by inviting him to their first class dining accommodations. Of course their affair would only have three days to blossom as the captain (Bernard Hill) decides to speed things up discarding all warnings that icebergs were in the area. After all he was on not only the fastest ship in the world, but also the most unsinkable.


Of course, they sight an iceberg and attempt evasive maneuvers, but they are traveling too fast and seemingly only graze the berg. Unfortunately, What they don't know is that below water level, a long gash breached the hull and most of the watertight devices that were to guarantee its unsinkability.


Havoc breaks loose as the ship is quite unprepared for such an emergency. In the middle of all this commotion, love blossoms as does jealousy and revenge. Then the ships sinks.

The story is fairly simple however Cameron's complex characters, nearly flawless narrative and groundbreaking special effects is what separates this "Titanic" from the previous versions (though most version were generally rewarded some type of accolade). Kate Winslet was totally believable as the smitten socialite. There was an interesting mix of historically genuine characters - like Molly Brown again (Kathy Bates) who sympathizes with Jack as she too was frowned upon - despite her wealth - for being born on the wrong side of the tracks.


Digitally modifying the film to 3D is merely an attempt to squeeze more money from the film giving the general opinion that "Titanic" is best seen on a big screen and recogniz-

ing the 100th anniversary of the accident. It follows George Lucas' conversion of his "Star Wars" saga to 3D, though "Titanic" will probably have a better response than "Star Wars Episode One: A Phantom Menace".


"Titanic 3D" is the same film it was in 1997 when it won 11 Oscars - now in 3D. It is a chance for the legions of fans to get one more look at the film as it should be viewed... on a large canvas.   -- GEOFF BURTON