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"My heart will go on," Celine Dion once crooned, and so apparently does the Titanic.
Fifteen years after James Cameron released his big budget blockbuster and flooded movie theaters everywhere with human tears, this Oscar-sweeping epic is returning to theaters this Friday and in shimmering 3D. But did you know Cameron wasn't the first to sink the ship?
For this week's Total Recall we present the long cinematic legacy the Titanic has left in its wake.
When they finally got around to writing the screenplay for Ghostbusters II, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis found themselves faced with the unenviable task of dreaming up a climactic battle that would somehow surpass the original's. It's generally accepted that they fell short of that mark, but give them credit -- instead of bringing back the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (or using two of him), they dreamed up an over-the-top FX extravaganza that included the ghost of Mayor La Guardia, an entire building covered in pink slime, and a ghost-filled Titanic sailing into the harbor. While conceding that the movie was "Hammered together out of the junkiest of elements," the Washington Post's Hal Hinson enjoyed the way it "rattles along with a pleasing rambunctiousness, tossing off its quips and one-liners and scoring on a remarkably high percentage of them."
Nearly 40 years before Kate and Leo went down with the ship, screenwriter Eric Ambler and director Roy Ward Baker assembled this painstaking adaptation of Walter Lord's non-fiction tome about the shipwreck. Using blueprints from the ship -- and with Titanic fourth officer Joseph Boxhall on board as a technical advisor -- A Night to Remember set out to give audiences the most realistic and historically accurate recreation of the crash ever brought to the screen. According to critics, they not only succeeded, they beat the odds and added a gripping drama in the bargain; as Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, wrote, "though the tragic story of the sinking of the Titanic is an old and oft-repeated one, it still makes for tense, exciting and supremely awesome drama on the screen."
Put together the Cold War and one of the world's most famous shipwrecks, and what do you have? This waterlogged adaptation of the Clive Cussler bestseller about the discovery of "byzanium," a rare mineral that can help America defeat the Soviet Union once and for all -- but only if we can wrest it from the wreckage of the Titanic before they do. A flop so costly it was said to have driven producer Lew Grade out of the film business -- and so poorly reviewed that it forever soured Cussler on the idea of having anyone turn one of his books into a movie -- Raise the Titanic could only muster a sigh from Roger Ebert, who called it "almost a good movie."
One of Terry Gilliam's more breezily fantastical (and, perhaps not coincidentally best-reviewed) films, Time Bandits doesn't spend as much time on board the Titanic as some of the other entries on this list -- but we would have been remiss if we'd compiled it without at least mentioning the brief interlude that the time-traveling Kevin (Craig Warnock) and his diminutive friends spend on the ship before realizing it's sailing for a watery grave. "This is the only live-action movie I've seen that literally looks like pages out of Heavy Metal magazine," grinned an appreciative Roger Ebert.