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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - THX
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 187:22 minutes Other Extras Main Menu Animation
Main Menu Audio
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (104:00)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director James Cameron

Fox Home Video
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Kate Winslet
Biilly Zane
Kathy Bates
Frances Fisher
Bernard Hill
Jonathan Hyde
Danny Nucci
Gloria Stuart
David Warner
Victor Garber
Bill Paxton
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $44.95 Music James Horner

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles Czech
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No

Plot Synopsis

    Titanic is a movie that divides opinion. The majority love the film, and a minority detest the film and spend far too much of their time telling the rest of us just how mistaken we are. I remember seeing Titanic for the first time theatrically. It was at the very well-appointed Village Crown Cinemas in Melbourne in one of their big auditoriums. A large, bright screen, great 5.1 sound and a full well-behaved theatrical audience transported me back to 1912 for a magical 3 hours onboard the RMS Titanic. I knew when I left the theatre that I had seen something very special.

    Titanic is basically a movie in two parts. The first focusses on the story of a developing relationship between Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a penniless artist who won his passage on the Titanic in a card game, and Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslett), a young woman trapped into marrying a man she doesn't love. Jack is very much a free spirit, and Rose would very much like to be one. The movie turns abruptly into a more action-oriented movie as soon as the Titanic hits an iceberg and begins to sink.

    Titanic is a connsumate movie experience. Glorious imagery, sublime music and a romance set against one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th Century are all blended perfectly by the deft direction of James Cameron.

    Transfer Quality


    Titanic has been one of the most requested titles on DVD, only surpassed by the demands for Star Wars. It marks Fox Home Video's entry into the international DVD marketplace with its worldwide simultaneous release. It was a perfect opportunity for Fox and Paramount to showcase just what DVD is capable of. A great, landmark movie such as Titanic deserves a great DVD transfer. Whilst this transfer is very good, it is by no means great, and was quite a disappointment for me.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.30:1, marginally but noticeably different in framing to the correct theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. I note that the Region 1 version of this disc is stated to be in the correct theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It remains to be seen whether the Region 4 version has had the matting opened up further or had some of the side image lopped off or whether the two discs are actually in the same aspect ratio.

    The biggest disappointment with this transfer was the lack of clarity in many of the images. I am used to seeing a myriad of fine background detail revealed by razor sharp DVD mastering, but this is simply not the case with this transfer. Fine background details are lost, particularly in outside shots. Any camera movement resulted in even more loss of image detail. There are also a number of scenes which appeared to be transferred a little overbright, with subsequent loss of image detail. I lay the blame for this lack of detail fairly and squarely on the lack of 16x9 enhancement. This is a movie that would benefit enormously from being 16x9 enhanced and indeed rumour has it that a 16x9 enhanced Special Edition is in the planning stages.

    Shadow detail was good. However, there were a number of sequences, particularly to do with the deep dive footage of the Titanic that suffered significantly from low level noise.

    The colours were quite variably saturated, with some scenes being richly coloured to the point of oversaturation and other scenes being pale and wan. To a certain extent, this was a reflection of the cinematographic choices made during the making of this movie, but I certainly recall a lot more evenness about the colours when I saw Titanic theatrically. Deep dive sequences were marred by quite significant chroma noise, particularly in deep blue-lit scenes.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of moderate amounts of aliasing, but not as much as I would have expected given the non-enhanced nature of this transfer. Wide shots of the ship were particularly affected by this artefact. Film artefacts, as would be expected from a new transfer such as this one, are simply non-existent. In fact, this is one of the high points of the transfer. This is an amazingly clean transfer.

    This disc is an RSDL disc with the layer change placed at 104:00, between Chapters 17 and 18. It is quite inobtrusive.


    There are two audio tracks on this DVD; the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    I felt that the overall level of this soundtrack was a little lacking, and listened at 5dB above my normal reference level, which I found to be a much more pleasing listening level.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand, thought at times it seemed to dip in volume unexpectedly when an on-screen action dropped back from the foreground. I found this somewhat disconcerting. At other times, it had quite a "thin" quality to it which was also a little disconcerting.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc other than a few scattered lines of marginal ADR sync.

    The sumptuous musical score was by James Horner. It is very atmospheric and superbly tied in to the on-screen action. The visual and aural images complement each other perfectly in this movie.

    The surround channels were used nicely by this soundtrack to create an enveloping soundfield without ever becoming overbearing or calling attention to themselves. The scale of this tragic event is beautifully recreated, and the listener is placed slap bang in the middle of it.

    The .1 channel was used beautifully to augment the action sequences and the music. Deep powerful groans and creaks are supplemented by the subwoofer, making them all the more real.


    There are almost no extras on this disc. In a first for Region 4, this disc has the standard THX trailer on it. The disc packaging contains an invitation to join Fox's DVD mailing list.


    The main menu features some extremely effective audio and animation, and acts as a superb entree to the movie. The rest of the menu is pedestrian in comparison. Scene selections in particular are quite hard to navigate through.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound. It is not 16x9 enhanced, and is of quite poor video quality.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this disc are, to all intents and purposes, identically featured. I would feel that the PAL version would be a better choice because of the extra resolution inherent in the PAL system, particularly in this case with the transfer being non-anamorphic, but there isn't enough difference between the two to categorically prefer one over the other.


    Titanic is one of my favourite movies.

    The video quality is generally quite good, but it should have been much better.

    The audio quality is very good but could also have been better.

    The extras are limited and of poor quality.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
1st September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer