Titanic: Three-Disc Special Collector's Edition

Titanic: Three-Disc Special Collector's Edition (1997)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Francis Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Documentaries, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending, Featurettes, Still Galleries, Music Video

James Cameron's beautiful and tragic tale of the doomed maiden voyage of the "Titanic", faithfully recreates the experience from the intricate sets to including footage from the actual ship's wreckage itself. Weaved throughout the story is the budding romance that forms between Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a third-class passenger who won his ticket at the last minute in a game of poker and Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), fiancée of one Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) a wealthy and shallow-minded businessman who places little significance in Roses interests or feelings, eventually leading her into the arms of Jack. Kathy Bates turns in a great performance as the outspoken Molly Brown, with Francis Fisher playing Roses money hungry mother Ruth, who wants nothing more than to see Rose marry Cal, so she can be taken care of financially. Gloria Stuart's performance of Titanic survivor Rose Dawson Calvert is sure to move you emotionally as she entertains the likes of Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton), a Titanic wreckage explorer and his crew with her memories of that fatal voyage, while joining them on-board a Russian ocean explorer.

Winner of 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, "Titanic" is beautifully presented in this wonderful three-disc DVD "Special Collector's Edition" from Paramount Home Entertainment. Presented in a glorious THX certified anamorphic widescreen transfer, this presentation easily becomes the benchmark for reference quality DVDs with its stunning image that displays magnificent color saturation boasting naturally appearing flesh tones and a vibrant color pallet. A consistent rich and deep black level provides the presentation with truly fantastic detail that is evident throughout the lavish sets to the various styles of period clothing worn within the film. The overall transfer is clean and clear of any and all forms of compression whatsoever, a good move by Paramount to spread the films 194 minute presentation over two dual-layered DVD discs really paid off here.

Keeping up with the great visual performance, Paramount Home Entertainment includes a choice between a Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and a dts ES 6.1 sound presentation. There is also the choice of English, French or Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound options available. The dts soundtrack is masterfully mixed to offer the listener a great balance and well mixed presentation throughout. Vocals appeared natural, but I did notice the odd scene where the dialogue track could have been just slightly higher to match the particular scene, this is a very minor discovery at best. One thing I do want to point out is the use of tremendously deep bass, along with enhancing the sonic experience, which is really evident during the ship's departure from the main dock, if you live in an apartment or small space such as myself, you might just risk eviction if you don't adjust your lower frequency sub woofer channel, as there is enough serious bass to fill an entire stadium! Once again, this soundtrack easily matches the presentation to become a true reference standard, you won't be disappointed and your home theater will get a workout it won't soon forget.

The extra features available on disc one includes, an audio commentary from James Cameron, a cast and crew commentary that features participation from Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, Lewis Abernathy, Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini, with a third audio commentary option that offers up a historical perspective.

There is the option of viewing the full-length feature presentation in a special "Behind the Scenes Mode" that presents additional behind-the-scenes making of footage. Viewers simply press "enter" on their DVD players remote whenever an icon of a sinking ship appears on screen where you are then taken, via seamless branching, to related "video pods" about the making of the movie.

On disc two, along with the second half of the feature presentation, you will discover the 9 minute and 29 second alternate ending to the film as well as the music video to "My Heart Will Go On", performed by Celine Dion.

Disc three contains the bulk of the added value content, starting with a 47 minute and 15 second "Deleted Scenes" section, which features the option of viewing with or without a James Cameron audio commentary. I recommend viewing with the optional commentary as Cameron discusses some rather important information as to why certain scenes did not make the final cut of the film. You will also be treated to an omitted scene featuring Van Ling himself (the producer of various DVD special editions, including this "Special Collector's Edition" DVD of "Titanic") as he plays a survivor floating on a piece of debris from the doomed ship towards the end of the film, a pretty cool scene to see!

Exploring the "Marketing" section of disc three presents you with a great documentary titled "Fox Special: Breaking New Ground" that delves into the production of "Titanic" and features great interviews with James Cameron, along with the inclusion of real life Titanic survivors. The documentary also goes into behind-the-scenes footage that is mixed with historical elements such as real archive material, which provides a good history lesson on one of the most memorable disasters in our time. A digital "Press Kit" that features items on production, actors and filmmakers from "Titanic" along with the nice inclusion of the "Concept Posters and One Sheets" section that displays some sixty or more incarnations of marketing material used for "Titanic" from around the globe, completes the "Marketing" section.

The third portion of disc three is simply labeled "Special Features", upon entering you will find a "1912 News Reel", which is actually a re-creation presented as an old-style news reel, rather than being derived from original archive materials. "Construction Time Lapse" is a neat feature that shows the massive sets being constructed in Mexico with narration provided by the filmmaker of that segment. Enrich you knowledge about the actual wreckage of the ship in the "Deep Dive Presentation", view "Titanic Crew Video" for some light-hearted outtakes and footage from behind-the-scenes. "Titanic Ship's Tour" takes you through the completed sets showcasing the intricate details of the faithfully re-created ship and its various rooms and features, which is sure to leave you in awe as you really begin to understand just how much thought and hard work went into the design and construction to bring this production to life. "Videomatics" and "Visual Effects" are two short featurettes that examine some of the techniques used for the special effects sequences within the film. Rounding off this portion of the extra features is an extensive and well presented "Still Galleries" section featuring photos and storyboard sketches.

If you own the previous non-anamorphic edition of "Titanic" on DVD, upgrading to this three disc "Special Collector's Edition" is simply a no-brainer. With the reference-quality picture and sound that comes packed with a ton of extras, I can easily give this awesome DVD set my very highest recommendations.

[Editor's Note: There is a minor glitch in the video presentation in which a single frame of the film shows a decoding artifact – most likely the result of a drop-out in the DLT that was used to master the DVD. While there is a lot of discussion going on about this, we feel the error is negligible, especially considering that it affects a single frame in a 3+ hour movie. We have seen more defects – and more distracting defects – in DVD transfers before in the form of speckles and dirt that we do not take exception in this. After all, this is a $20 DVD made for entertainment, nothing more.]