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Down Low on LetterBoxd: ‘Titanic: The Legend Goes On…’

Pexels/Matthew Barra

Hello everybody, and welcome to the fifth edition of “Down Low on LetterBoxd,” where I review the lowest-rated movies on Letterboxd—a social film reviewing site.

Today, I am reviewing “Titanic: The Legend Goes On…” (2000), which has a rating of 1.5 out of five stars. The ridiculous premise of an animated children’s movie based on the tragedy of the Titanic was a concept attempted not once, but twice. In fact, it can be debated that this film is a rip off of a North Korean-Italian version called “The Legend of the Titanic” (1999), which somehow includes a message about saving the whales.

“Titanic: The Legend Goes On…” (2000) is an Italian production directed and written by Camilo Teti. It’s almost admirable how many subplots this movie tries to fit in. There’s a Cinderella subplot, some lady with a dog trying to get her goons to steal stuff, and, of course, a class-difference romance. The main differences being that the boy is single and rich, the girl is poor, and they end up together in the end.

I’d be remiss not to mention what this film is most infamous for: the rapping dog. Yes, in this movie about a horrible tragedy where real people died, there is not only a talking dog, but a dog who can participate in a musical genre that has yet to be curated at the point of the movie. There are several talking animals within this movie. Immigrant mice, among which include a vaguely European-Jewish family, offensive Mexican stereotype mice, geese and a cat who likes bullying a small dog.

The movie’s main plotline concerns itself with its Cinderella-esque love story. The lead, Angelica, has to put up with a mean foster mother and the foster mother’s daughters until she meets William, a rich British man. William is different from all the other men she’s met because he can creepily rub her hand after knocking over her laundry and “helping” her pick it up. There is a bland romance between the two where they fall in love at first sight (so the writers don’t have to put in effort). Unlike in the Cameron film, the dramatic irony of their situation is not felt.

The movie tries to end with Angelica finding her biological mother and with an ending narration that implies that no one had any lasting PTSD from witnessing one of the greatest losses of civilian life in human history. It even has the insulting line of “everybody lived happily ever after” like it’s some fairytale rather than a tragedy.

Which brings us to address the inherently odd premise of the film, trying to make a tragedy “kid-friendly” and sanitized. The odd contrast between an offensive Mexican mice song and the iceberg hitting the Titanic is one to comprehend. But this sin is not one exclusive to “Titanic: The Legend Goes On…”, for example, Disney’s “Pocahontas” tries to white-wash and fantasize about the real-life history of America’s indigenous people and the slaughter and oppression they received. Instead of telling the truth, the film makes the titular character have a romance with a colonizer.

Of course, there’s a difference between sanitizing Grimm’s fairy tales for a modern audience and sanitizing real-life events for a PG rating. I suppose the real question here is: why tell dark stories for kids if you don’t let those stories be dark? What are we as a society afraid of? Letting kids know these dark truths? Obviously, I don’t believe in showing kids “The Exorcist” or “Saw” and of course, Disney would not show a graphic sexual assault scene in a kid’s movie, but scariness in kid’s media is something becoming rarer and rarer these days as over-protection of child purity is becoming more common. With book bans and censorship becoming more and more common in America in the name of “protecting innocence”, looking at a piece of media that tries to tell kids about darkness in a “kid-friendly” and poor way is fascinating. It’s a piece of media that tries to sanitize the darkness instead of making it more comprehensible.

“Titanic: The Legend Goes On…” is an odd practice of trying to make a tragedy “kid-friendly” or, pun-intended, watered down. It brings up an age-old question: how do you address tragedy and how do you tell your children about it? Of course, using a rapping dog and “happily ever after” to tell a tragedy is… insensitive, to say the least, but the question that it brings up permeates the whole movie, and that might be its value to the world.

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