The temperature inside the IMAX Melbourne theater might not be icy enough to kill anyone who forgot to put on their jacket, but I could already imagine what it was like for the 1514 passengers who died that night in the middle of freezing waters in the North Atlantic Ocean. When Rose said “I’ll never let go, Jack… I promise” and kissed Jack’s hand and watched him sink, I said “I’ll never let go, God… I promise to finish my PhD this year” and thanked James Cameron who theatrically re-released Titanic in three-dimensional stereoscopic format and narrated that tragedy again after 100 years it took place.
It felt funny, though, sitting down in this packed cinema, watching one of the most famous shipwrecks in the history, sharing the old Rose Dawson Calvert’s melancholy over the Heart of the Ocean, listening to the same musical scores that had been playing in my mind for many years. When the movie was first released 15 years ago, I was one of the millions around the world who went nuts with the sinking of the unsinkable ship and, not to forget, with that most-photographed kiss at the bow of the ship. I remembered one of my university mates who watched this movie in the cinema for 21 times. When asked why he decided to stop, he said, “Oh, the last time I watched it, I fell asleep.” The other friend of mine even went the extra length by organizing his own Titanic-themed birthday party. It turned out to be one of the most memorable party events in my life, just like Titanic.
But how could anyone resist the Titanic’s therapeutic power? Right now, I could feel the spirit in me rising up beyond that massive seven-storey screen. I might not be one of the passengers who boarded that British passenger liner on 10 April 1912 from Southampton, England, but I could feel the taste of fear and survival, like I had been thrown off the ship and struggled among the chaos and pandemonium. I tried to recall the many Ships of Life that I had sailed through; the companies that I had worked for, the adventures that I had been involved with, and all the challenges that I had navigated throughout my seafaring life. While many of them had sailed successfully and reached the destination, many others had sunk and lost at the bottom of the sea. But how did get back to the surface and live on?
When I looked back, I realized that I was not a mere passenger with a third-class ticket – I was the Captain of the Ship! Yes, I had always been the Captain in my life who owned the steering power and authorized when or how to steer when an iceberg was getting in the way. The ship might hit the iceberg and I might sink together with it, but I could stay afloat like Rose and continue to dream. Life would go on and on, until there was no more ship to navigate, or the seawater had been sucked dry by a giant Godzilla. Or maybe I was just an over-imaginative moviegoer who got so emotionally and titanically involved watching the world’s most epic romantic disaster film at the world’s third largest screen that he refused to take off his 3D glasses at the end of the movie.