The other night I got drunk with some friends. We made vegetarian breakfast burritos and sat down to watch a film.
I am now and will remain forever an unapologetic Titanic enthusiast. While the tide of consumerism turned against the movie (as it always does) when the film started to make about 5,000 billion quintillion dollars, I stood by it. Titanic is a cheesy and simple melodrama, but dammit if it isn’t a great, engaging, emotionally affecting and super-well-done cheesy and simple melodrama.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. No, I am more interested in the way that the movie was split into two parts when being sent to DVD.
The logical reason for this two-disc split is obviously. The movie is a good twenty-eight hours long, and compressing that much video to one puny DVD disc would result in terrible image quality that spits in the face of James Cameron’s god-like auteur vision.
As it just so happens, though, the split seems to come at an interesting time. The entire first disc has very little talk of the disaster and destruction of the Titanic. It’s only in the last fifteen minutes that the famous ship meets its fateful iceberg, and Jack and Rose don’t find out about their inescapable doom until disc two.
Disc one, then, plays like a melodramatic character piece about a girl shedding her bonds to follow true love. It’s romantic (and Romantic), it’s uplifting, it’s touching…
And to some, it’s boring as hell.
The second disc, in many ways, is the antithesis of the first. From the outset, we have Jack being framed for stealing and being locked below decks. Rose must make the daring decision to abandon her guaranteed rescue in favor of finding her love and rescuing him from a watery tomb. From then on out, it’s one long hour-and-a-half chase scene, Poseidon Adventure style, culminating in the propeller guy’s fall and the famous “I’ll never let go” line.
It’s exciting, adrenaline-filled, disturbing, violent and action packed…
And to some, depressing as hell.
If you ever get a group of Titanic fans together, pose the following question to them. If you could only watch one disc of Titanic for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
There are, of course, three possible answers. Disc one, disc two, and none of the above. And which decision your friend or cohort makes is wildly revealing. Forget the enneagram and Myers-Briggs, the Titanic personality tests is more revealing than them all.
If your friend chooses disc one, he or she is a romantic at heart. These personalities are more likely to enjoy Casablanca and Gone With The Wind. There is an inherent need for a happy(ish) ending, and love conquers all barriers (Casablanca notwithstanding). If they don’t believe this deeply, they at least want to. Romantic in nature and idealistic in action, they love the idea of bucking the system in order to follow their own destiny. These are the dreamers, the floaters, and the “true artists.”
Personalities that pick disc two have a different set of priorities. They enjoy excitement and accomplishment. They’re task-oriented and enjoy watching Jack and Rose fight their way through obstacle after obstacle. This group believes that meaning can be found in everyday survival, but they are a realist group that understands that many life situations are beyond their control. There aren’t always happy endings.
Finally, you have personality type three, the Titanic Haters. This is a broad group that consists of nihilists, love-haters and too-cool-for-schoolers. They often reject things that are popular and have a very specific, and usually false, sense of self-identity. They often reject the ideas of “true-love” and fixate on carnal desires of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.
Now before you get yourself in a tizzy, I must clarify that these states are not all-inclusive. Think of this personality profile test not as a series of three states, but as a triangle. Everyone has their own specific space within this triangle, gravitating toward one, two, or all three of the points. If you want to know where your friend falls in the triangle, see how difficult it is for them to make their decision. Quick decision usually point to one personality profile being very dominant. Those who consider for a long time fall somewhere in the middle. Ask follow-up questions about why the decision is difficult, and their place on the spectrum will become clear.
Then again, defining these personality profiles as a spectrum is kind of bullshit. By putting forward a loose set of personality traits and then saying that people fall somewhere between these defined sets, I’m basically just saying “these are common personality traits,” and the analysis means very little. I guess that’s why I don’t usually like personality profiles in general. But Titanic is still a damn good film.