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The 'Titanic' - 'Somewhere in Time' Connection

"James Cameron's 'Titanic': A Familiar Story," by Eileen Maugle -

Many films have been compared to "Somewhere In Time", but James Cameron's "Titanic" is the first one to have so many interesting parallels. Intrigued with the Titanic story and having seen several versions, including the recent Broadway production, I looked forward to seeing Cameron's adaptation. So it was with great anticipation that I set off with my husband one rainy afternoon to see the movie. Little did I realize, like those who journeyed on that fateful voyage, the experience it was going to be.

This is the first film since SIT that touched me so deeply. As the theater lights filtered back on and the credits rolled down the screen, I sat with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, absolutely enthralled. I commented to my husband about the beauty of the film and its SIT ending. For days afterwards, I could not get the story out of my mind. It slowly began to dawn on me that there were many similarities between SIT and Titanic. Maybe this was one of the reasons it had such a profound effect on me.

One obvious similarity is the year 1912 and the gorgeous costumes, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. The author of SIT, Richard Matheson, is a writer of science fiction; the author of the movie "Titanic", James Cameron, is a director of science fiction/action films. Both stories begin with an old woman, and a picture captured, as a young woman gazed at the man she would always love. There is also a piece of jewelry that is returned full circle and a tragic twist of fate that separates the lovers forever.

In SIT old Elise returns the watch and is finally at peace with her quest. She then sits, reflects on the past spent with Richard and quietly dies. In Titanic old Rose returns the piece of jewelry, gazes at the photos of her life and reminisces about the things she did because of what she learned about living and love from Jack. She then retires to bed and she is seen lying very still- - is she be sleeping or something else.?

Let us look further at the leading characters.
   Elise is an actress; Rose will become one.
   Strangely, the two actresses, Jane Seymour and Kate Winslet, who play the roles, are both English portraying American characters.
   Richard/Jack are both artistic--one is a playwright the other an artist.

We see:
   Elise meets Richard by the water; Rose meets Jack on a body of water.
   Elise/Rose both discover love for the first time, lose it, and because of it find the rest of their life changed dramatically.
   Elise/Rose both pose for a photo/picture as they look into the eyes of the man they love.
   Elise remains behind at the Grand Hotel to find Richard; Rose remains behind on the Titanic to find Jack.
   Elise loses Richard because he accidently finds a penny;
   Rose loses Jack because of a tragic accident.
   Richard/Jack both disappear from view in a fade away scene.
   Richard/Jack both overcome what some would find to be insurmountable odds to be with the one they love.
   Richard bound with ropes and hidden in a barn; Jack bound with handcuffs and hidden below decks.
   Richard/Jack both die at a young age.

But, it is the ending of the SIT/Titanic that is the most familiar. The joining of the lover's hands is haunting in its similarity. Surely, James Cameron must have seen SIT. If not, where did he get his inspiration for this wondrous love story?

Titanic--a huge box office success; SIT small box office success. Titanic--huge budget; SIT--small budget. Yet each movie affected me equally to the depths of my romantic soul. I'm sure there are many other similarities between SIT and Titanic but for me, the one that stands out most among all the others, is the exquisite story of first love. Both films masterfully unfold the lovely discovery of first love with all its sweetness, joy and poignancy. They show that love is more important than money, fame or all the riches in the world; love can profoundly change a person's life. Both these films touch people of all ages throughout the world because of their common threads. So, I say to you when you raise your glass at the SIT weekend in October to celebrate Richard and Elise, remember Rose and Jack because they are intertwined Somewhere In Time.

Eileen Maugle maugle@email.njin.net


"That Which You Sink", By Bob Simonson -

By now, approximately one in seven people in America have seen James Cameron's Titanic, which is arguably a higher percentage than saw Somewhere In Time during its initial release. Visually stunning, grand and majestic in its scope, it is a first-class production all the way, capably blending the massive size of the ship and its tragedy with the intimate details of a small, affectionate love story. As such, it makes a perfect complement to SIT (and what a golden opportunity Universal is missing by not re-releasing it now to capitalize on the 1912 mania).

I have never been involved in the making of a feature film, but I can imagine that Mr. Cameron did a considerable amount of research, both on the ship and on the time period, prior to writing the script, research which may have included viewing other films set in 1912 to get a feel for the period. If so, one of them may well have been SIT. I believe this because I, as well as others, have noticed similarities between the two films that cannot be attributed solely to chance. They share the same year, clothing styles, and some of the same music, but numerous moments lead me to believe that Mr. Cameron may have been moved or influenced strongly enough by SIT to pay subtle homage to it. It is said that we tend to see what we want to see, and many of the similarities may simply be elements in common to most love stories. Nevertheless, I've compiled a list of them which, in one way or another, seem to indicate something more than chance at work here.

To begin with, both involve a splendid setting: a Grand Hotel, a grand ship. Both involve an aspect of time travel, one in fact, one in flashback. Both involve an elderly woman who figures prominently. Both are about a love triangle involving a beautiful, dependent young woman, the man who holds power over her, and a young, talented man whose love for her is pure. Now for specifics:

The Hero (Richard Collier/Jack Dawson)
   Both come from the Midwest (Chicago/Wisconsin).
   Both are involved in the arts (Playwright/Artist).
   Both are drawn there by fate (Richard stops on impulse/Jack wins his ticket in a poker game)
   Both sleep in unusual places (A porch chair/Under a bridge/We also see Jack lying down on a deck bench).
   Both do something thoughtful for a young child (Richard returns Arthur's ball/Jack dances with young Cora and calls her his best girl/Jack also attempts to save a young boy from drowning).
   Richard wears a T-shirt that says Team Atlantic; Jack is IN the Atlantic.

The Heroine (Elise McKenna/Rose DeWitt Bukater)
   Both come from the East (Ronkonkoma, NY/Philadelphia, PA).
   Both are, or will be, actresses. · Both are dependent on another, older man.
   Both find their strength and independence protecting the man they love.
   Both are the first in the relationship to say "I love you".
   Both speak of him in mental terms ("The man of my dreams_the one I have created in my mind"/"He exists now only in my memory").
   Both meet a man who will change the rest of their lives though nobody realizes it at the time.
   Both stay behind when they could leave, in order to find him.
   Both spend some time in a rowboat.

The Villain (William Robinson/Cal Hockley)
   Both are older than the lovers.
   Both are overbearing and intimidating (Robinson uses psychology/Hockley uses violence).
   When he meets the hero, the initial meeting is hostile.
   When he ultimately loses her, he ends up a broken, dispirited man.

The Older Woman (Elise/Rose)
   Both see something that reminds them of happy times with their lovers & they weep over it.
   Both return something precious to its rightful place, and at night.
   Both wait years to see him again for the last time, or to speak of him openly for the first time.
   Both fulfill their destiny and die at night, at peace, surrounded by mementos of their past.

The Lovers
   Both meet for the first time by water.
   The first words spoken between them are a three-word sentence (Is it you?/Don't do it).
   His presence makes her nervous.
   Both couples spend time together walking by the water, getting to know each other better.
   They must be ingenious in devising ways to be alone together without getting caught.
   In each case, they dance together once.
   Each couple has "their" music (The Rhapsody/Come Josephine).
   In both cases, the lovers run toward each other (he runs downstairs, she runs on a level, and they meet at the foot of a staircase and embrace passionately).
   Each time, they make love only once, and he remains the great love of her life.
   Each is a doomed love affair, with the lovers separated by circumstances beyond their control, and not by choice.

The Circumstances
   There is a portrait in both cases, and he is responsible for making it the way it is.
   She is reflected in a mirror at her dressing table, the villain is with her, and he starts a sentence which they finish together.
   There is a prominent piece of jewelry in both (pocket watch/diamond necklace) and it disappears the night she dies.
   She saves him from an embarrassing situation (Elise escorts Richard out of the dining room/ Rose lies about Jack saving her).
   The hero's clothes are inappropriate to where he is much of the time.
   There is a large, earthy, sympathetic woman who helps him to be with his love, and she comments on his clothes (Genevieve/Molly Brown).
   There is a reference to a penny (THE penny/"You shine up like a new penny").
   Curiously, the hero has dinner with her, her mother and the villain, which does not appear in SIT but does appear in the original version Bid Time Return. Perhaps Mr. Cameron read that as well?
   A bit of whimsy and a twice-removed reference: Rose says "I'm flying", which reminds me of Peter Pan, by implication Maude Adams, by association Elise McKenna. (Remember in Bid Time Return, he makes mention of Elise playing Peter. I'm convinced Mr. Cameron, at the very least, saw the film, if not read the book as well!)
   The heroine slowly removes a comb and lets her hair fall for his benefit.
   Each woman expresses a desire to have him use his particular talent to enhance her (Elise wants to be in Richard's play/Rose asks Jack to draw her).
   The villain confronts the hero and heroine in a potentially compromising situation (Robinson finds Richard in Elise's room/Cal fabricates a theft).
   Both villains lie to her about the hero (Robinson says Richard is not "the one"/Cal frames Jack to make him out a thief).
   The villain has the hero removed bodily from the premises by someone in authority.
   The villain has his thug punch the hero in the stomach.
   The hero is bound and left behind.
   Interestingly, Robinson says "We leave within the hour", which Jack and Rose only HAVE about an hour.
   Each woman calls out her lover's name during a crisis or separation.
   Elise asks Richard to "Come back to me" in a whisper; Rose asks the boat (or is it Jack?) to "Come back_come back", also in a whisper.
   The one being left behind retreats into darkness (Elise vanishes/Jack sinks out of sight).
   The woman dies old, the man dies young.
   Both stories start in the present, return to the past, and end in the present.
   Both meet again in Heaven, the lover awaiting with outstretched hand, and bathed finally in a pure white light.

In many respects, Titanic is a mirror-image film to SIT, in that what happens to him in SIT happens to her in Titanic, or vice versa. It is also entirely possible that all of the apparent similarities may just have been coincidental and indeed, that Mr. Cameron may never even have seen SIT at all. But I choose to believe, paraphrasing a character in a James Bond novel, "Once is accident, twice is coincidence, three times is deliberate action", and there would appear to be many more than three times here. In my vision of a perfect world, not too far in the future, Mr. Cameron would attend one of our weekends as an honored guest and creator of what for many is their second-favorite film, and who among us would not love the chance to have just five minutes alone with him, to ask him what, if anything, our film has meant to him.