Love & Sex
OPINION: Last week I went and saw Titanic 3D. It was an experience that taught me two things. Firstly, that it's difficult to cry gracefully while you're wearing 3D glasses and secondly, that your concept of love alters enormously in the space of 15 years.
For me, viewing Titanic wasn't merely a trip back to the icy depths of the North Atlantic. It was a trip back to my teen years. Just like smelling a whiff of Body Shop dewberry fragrance, seeing this film took me right back to 1997 - the year I turned 17.
Film played an enormous part in my high school years. My friends and I were regulars at the cinema, partly because there was very little else to do and partly because I was an employee and could smuggle everyone in for free.
Like most girls that age, we were suckers for a romance. The '90s brought us Reality Bites, Empire Records, Stealing Beauty and Romeo + Juliet, and their soundtracks subsequently became the harmony to our teen years.
Lisa Loeb singing Stay will forever remind me of hours spent in my bedroom mooning over a fellow cinema employee, Mundy triggers memories of sneaking alcohol, and Mazzy Star of getting my license and the liberation of being able to go anywhere, any time.
At that age we were human embodiments of a shiny penny - untarnished, yet to fall in love and yet to experience heartbreak. We were blank canvases, ready and waiting for Hollywood to imprint its idea of true romance on us.
And they did this with a powerful weapon. Leonardo DiCaprio.
I remember seeing Titanic for the first time at a movie marathon with my girlfriends. It had a profound effect. Moyan cried inconsolably and forgot to eat her choc top while Nat walked into walls for days afterwards and kept bleating "I can't believe he drowned". We didn't care much for Celine Dion and the soundtrack but my god, we loved the story.
These films - Romeo + Juliet and Titanic in particular - affected our notion of the ideal romance. We didn't know a hell of a lot about relationships, but we knew we wanted a guy with a floppy fringe and for Desiree to be singing in the background at all the "big" moments. We wanted someone who would be prepared to die for us, someone who could make grand speeches on the bow of a boat and someone who would look devilishly handsome wearing a suit of armour.
Seeing Titanic again made me think of this dreamy 17-year-old version of myself and reflect on how much has changed. I no longer have to scoop choc tops to earn a living and I can barely remember the grade that I got on my high school certificate. My busted white Ford Laser is now a more respectable Holden Astra and acne is no longer my biggest skincare concern. It's ageing.
But mostly, I'm no longer an untarnished penny. I've had my heart broken, my eyes opened and the uncontrollable, carefree giggling that used to engulf my girlfriends and I doesn't overwhelm us as regularly as it used to. Life is punctuated by responsibility. There are bills and taxes, mortgage brokers and ticking biological clocks to contend with.
What hasn't changed between first viewing and second viewing is that my parents still try to tell me what to do, the scene with the two old people hugging as the ship sinks still RUINS me.
I look at them and their partners now and not one of these gentlemen has the floppy Leonardo DiCaprio hair that we held in such high regard. In fact, both of them are as bald as badgers. Instead of steamy interludes in the back of vintage cars and beautifully scripted professions of love they are doing the grocery shopping, mowing the lawn and making budgets.
But their partners love them above all else. And over the course of 15 years I've learned that while the Hollywood fantasy is fun for some escapism, in real life that's all that really matters.
Did Titanic rock your world in 1997? Are you going to revisit it in 3D?
Do long-distance relationships work?Related story: (See story)