Arts & Entertainment

TITANIC Rose Introduction Breakdown

James Cameron

Lesson time 07:30 min

In just a few shots, Rose is almost fully revealed to us. Learn how James thought about introducing Rose and what he wanted to convey.

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Topics include: Cinematically Introducing Your Character


[DRAMATIC MUSIC] JAMES CAMERON: The first moments of a character should somehow resonate with the entire rest of the film. [DRAMATIC MUSIC] So we talked about character introductions and a few different ones. I love stylistically interesting cinematic introductions of main characters or main adversaries. So here's one that I'll use as an example. This is in "Titanic." And let's say we'll start with this shot. It was a big crowd getting ready to board the ship and say goodbye to the people that are already boarding the ship. And so a thousand extras, and the camera's coming down, and we're coming on to a small group of people. And then we see this little girl. And meanwhile, we hear a horn honking. And she turns and looks. And here comes this beautiful, glittering, otherworldly car. And then the doors open, and we see a figure. A hand comes out, and then a foot comes out, and then a hat comes out. And then the hat wipe reveals Kate Winslet's face as Rose. And then we hear her first line of dialogue. KATE WINSLET (AS ROSE): I don't see what all the fuss is about. It doesn't look any bigger than the Mauretania. - Which is very sort of blase and diva-like. (STUFFY ACCENT) "It doesn't look that big." You know? Kind of dismissive. And she sort of immediately sort of declares herself as a bit sort of posh and above it all. But we also get to see her entire ensemble, which is beautifully pulled together-- Edwardian day coat and her gorgeous hat. So she's kind of defined very, very, very quickly. But the cinematically interesting thing is the first thing we see of Rose is her car. And we see it from the perspective of a little girl who's a steerage class passenger. And to her, it's like a fantasy. What she sees is the fantasy. She sees the princess. I've gone from the wide shot with literally, I don't know, it might have been 1,200, it might be 1,500 extras that were on call that day. And we built this huge set. And we come down with the crane, across the entire crowd. Everybody's waving. And then we introduce little Cora. - Daddy, it's a ship. - And just a relatively inconsequential line from her. It's not important. But she creates a subjective point of view. And then here comes the car. The car honks. It's clearing a path. And now we see it from Cora's perspective, the beautiful, golden glittering chariot. And not just one car, but a fleet of cars that show up. And this is a very long lens shot. This is probably a 150 millimeter lens shot. And it's designed to stack the frame. Now a lot of this sequence was shot with long lenses. And it's hard to imagine "Titanic" as being a low-budget movie. But if you looked 10 degrees over that way, or 10 degrees over that way, it was Baja, California. We were down in Rosarito Beach. So we had a piece of backing that was supposed to look like the city of Southampton at the Southampton docks. And if I moved off that backing, I was looking at scrub brush and...

About the Instructor

From The Terminator and Titanic to Avatar, James Cameron has directed some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Now, for the first time in his 40-year career, he opens up about his process. Through behind-the-scenes breakdowns, James shares his approach to developing ideas, storylines, and characters; harnessing technology; and worldbuilding on any budget. Explore the innovation and imagination behind epic moviemaking.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

James Cameron

Academy Award–winning director James Cameron teaches you the tricks of the trade and shares his approach to epic moviemaking on any budget.

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