Titanic
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Titanic

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By now, everyone knows the story. Young love, big ship, bigger iceberg and romance in the face of disaster. This movie is currently ‘king of the world’ when it comes to honorifics, notoriety and earnings (over 600 million dollars). Now, another record has been set by this movie, the fastest pre-selling DVD ever. Over one million copies are sold for the first official release date. That is about one in four DVD owners have pre-booked this disc. Having had the VHS tape I can honestly say, there is no comparison between the formats. Although this DVD is about as plain vanilla as possible (the only extra is a theater trailer), it is packed with what people really got DVD for, a theatrical experience at home.

After the usually Paramount multi-language copyright warning, there is a brief animated menu. The only real selection if the audio, a choice English 5.1, English Surround and French Surround. The movie is presented only in the letterbox format, which is just as well since most of the DVD users I know do not even turn to the pan and scan versions. The video quality is stunning. The clarity of the picture is better than that found in the theater. Every little detail is crisp and clear. You will notice the attention to detail that Cameron paid to every aspect of this production. The buttons on the dresses, the hairpins, the embroidery on the tablecloths, all appear with detail that rivals reality. Not only do the main characters and the center of the action display this attention to detail but the background and peripheral aspects of the scenes are rich with the little things that set this movie apart form so many others. Since the whole bandwidth of the disc is used for the movie you would expect no defects or artifacts. There was only a little evidence of a momentary stutter when the player moved to the second layer, the rest of the disc as near reference quality.

The sound was excellent. Again, the attention to detail has paid off. Each gull seems to fly independently over your hear and behind you. The Dolby 5.1 sound field was rich and smooth over the entire range. Wheels squeaking as trunks were being loaded aboard, the click of the ladies shoes on the gangplank and the tinkle of the glasses around you in the main dining hall. Between the audio and video you feel more like a participant than a viewer. Of course, the sound of the crash against the iceberg is dramatic in the 5.1 THX sound field. You hear the crash rip across the front and move to the rear speakers. The sub woofer rumbles as the massive ship is ripped open. The scene takes on a visceral impact as the chucks of ice crash against the desk. A note of historical irony here; if the Titanic had hit the iceberg straight on few if any people would have died. The heaviest damage was inflicted as the crew tried to turn the ship and wound up slashing across the ship’s side opening 5 compartments. In this DVD release you can hear the metal being torn and the frantic rushing of the crew and passengers on and below the deck.

The story is timeless, the special effects inspired., acting and direction beyond the typical modern movie all add up to a film of note and importance. Now, with this DVD you can treasure this instant classic as close to how it was presented in the theaters as possible. A quarter of you DVD owners already have this disc, what are the rest of you waiting for?

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