Perspectives: Narrating the Ship of Dreams: The Ethics of Sentimentality in James Cameron's Titanic

Todd F. Davis, Kenneth Womack

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5 Scopus citations


James Cameron's Titanic (1997) made cinematic headlines with its mammoth production budget and its equally staggering worldwide theatrical profits. Audiences, however, generally revisited the film time and time again because of its unabashedly sentimental narrative, rather than for its remarkable special effects. In sharp contrast with such action films as The Terminator (1984) and True Lies (1994), Cameron employs an overtly sentimental style in Titanic. As Martha C. Nussbaum observes in Love's Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature, an artist's sense of style—whether visual, literary, or otherwise—often functions as a means for rendering ethical judgments. “Form and style are not incidental features”, she writes. “A view of life is told. The telling itself—the selection of genre, formal structures, sentences, vocabulary, of the whole manner of addressing the reader's sense of life—all of this expresses a sense of life and of value, a sense of what matters and what does not, of what learning and communicating are, of life's relations and connections. Life is never simply presented by a text”, she adds; “it is always represented as something” (5).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Popular Film and Television
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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