15 April 2012

The Long Halloween Vol. III: Titanic Day

Hello folks, welcome once again to the Third Edition of The Long Halloween, NMW's yearlong look at different holidays for each month of the year. After running through Easter and St. Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving we frankly got a little bored. So for this edition we're looking at some of the more obscure holidays our great nation has to offer.

April is no slouch. There were many choices here, all of them fairly obvious. April 30 is Honesty Day, the natural movie to slide in would be Jim Carrey's Liar Liar (1997) to remind us all of the values of honesty. I'm not sure Liar Liar was really intended to expunge to the world the values of honesty, but it's certainly not the worst way to spend two hours on a Monday.

Why doesn't Mumble ever grow up?
On the 25th the world comes together to celebrate World Penguin Day, to which there are plenty of movies to choose from that honor those dirty birds. Keeping with the Jim Carrey vibe we could watch Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011), but in case you don't want to kill yourself you might pop in either of the dueling animated features Happy Feet (2006) or Surf's Up (2007). I would suggest the latter as the superior movie. Perhaps the best choice though, and the only one to feature actual live antarctic beasts is March of the Penguins (2005) for a dose of bitter winter hardship contrasted with Morgan Freeman's soothing narration. Jeez there's a lot of penguin movies out there.

You can parlay Happy Feet along with something like AVABAR (2009) for Earth Day on April 22. Both films have exceedingly overt environmental messages, although they couldn't take place in more diverse biomes. Throw in Fern Gully (1992) for the original AVABAR plot and you have the environmental guilt-trip trifecta. And we actually shouldn't count out An Inconvenient Truth (2006). See, there are just so many April options it's maddening. That's why we picked a more clear-cut day that has a very obvious ritual, movie, and memories attached.

Welcome to Titanic Day.

A century ago today the Titanic sank after striking an iceberg in the middle of the North Atlantic. It's the ultimate real-life example of man's hubris, punishment, class warfare, and battle against the elements of the sea. It was also made into one of the biggest movies of all time, Titanic (1997), directed by Jim Cameron.

Titanic has stuck in our minds for decades. This may be because of what I just said - the cultural scar against mankind, that Mother Nature sank the unsinkable ship has been such a blow to man's ego that we've felt the ripples for a century. It does seem a blow to man's ego more than woman's ego as man built, operated, steered, and doomed the ship while the ladies sat around, drank tea, and then hopped in the lifeboats first. This isn't disparaging them, they didn't really have a choice in any of the matters.

As it turns out, it's all a dream within a dream
Titanic is the ultimate human disaster. Would the Hindenburg make as compelling of a film? That would probably depend on who is in the audience. Jim was able to jump on a surging Titanic interest after the discovery of the wreck in 1985. He also made a ridiculously high-grossing film based on the spectacle of production, astounding technical achievement, and a clichéd love story with two really good-looking actors. I always wondered what Leo's straight-up 90s haircut was doing in 1912.

Titanic is still big, somehow. If you want to celebrate the day right you can go out right now and see Titanic again in theaters in the Third Dimension. I don't really know why you'd want to, but out of all the days in April this one seems to dominate the current conversation, not only because it is the 100th Anniversary, after all. Titanic ultimately did what she set out to do - dominate everything. From conversation, to film, to April Holidays, the Titanic does rule over everyone else. Will Titanic's buzz ever hit its own iceberg and plummet to the bottom of our conversational ocean? I think they have better maps now.

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