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Some jump, some fall, each dotting the water's surface like the period at the end of a sentence. Then, the stern slips under the water, plunging everyone into a coldness so intense it is indistinguishable from fire. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. The inchoate wail of 1500 souls slowly fades to individual cries from the darkness. We know you can hear us! Save one life! 700 survivors stand by in lifeboats built for 1200, afraid to act for fear of getting swamped. They tell themselves that the voices from the water do not belong to their husbands or their loved ones. They are merely the cries of the damned....
-- From James Cameron's Titanic James Cameron's Titanic is a book conceived on the epic scale of the movie--not only do the massive page size and sky-high production values of the book do justice to the big ship, they give Kate Winslet's titanic hats an impact comparable to what the big screen gives them. It's also fun to get the effect of exploring a set as vast, complex, and fiscally and physically dangerous as the one Cameron created for Titanic the film. He is Hollywood's answer to Ahab, so he deserves a great big book.
Nor will fans be disappointed to hear Winslet break character--she plays an upper-class lass from the stuffiest circles--and explain how she helped her costar prepare for their first scene together, in which she stripped for her dishy portrait. "I was naked in front of Leo on the first day of shooting," says Winslet in the book. "She had no shame with it," says DiCaprio, who apparently despises shame. "She wanted to break the ice a little beforehand, so she flashed me. I wasn't prepared for that, so she had one up on me. I was pretty comfortable after that."
While the stars were getting acquainted and the wild-eyed director was figuring out historically unprecedented ways of blending live footage with computer imagery ("Cheat the size of the tugboats 10 percent smaller ... It will make the ship look even more majestic as it leaves Southampton!"), the core cast of 150 extras was taking a crash course in manners. Etiquette coach and choreographer Lynne Hockney even taught the Core (as they were called) that there was a proper way to laugh. "It was the Gilded Age, a time of the grand hostess, lavish parties and tireless pleasure-seeking," Hockney says in the book. "And each social class was scrambling to reach the one above it. This made proper behavior terribly important.... You cannot slouch in a corset, for example. You perch." One wishes there was a frame or two from the Hockney film running on a tape loop in the wardrobe building, Titanic Etiquette: A Time-Traveler's Guide. If it were available for sale, people would be buying it.
On the other hand, there's always the movie. Or this book. --Tim Appelo
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