Believe it or not, I had never seen “Titanic” (1997), one of the most well-known films of all time–until yesterday and tonight. It’s long, so we divided it. I shall make but a few theological comments.
Near the end of the film, a man with a clerical collar is shown speaking to a small group of people on board the sinking ship. They are not clamoring for a life boat, but simply listening. He recites the “Hail Mary” but later, he quotes from Revelation from memory (!), which speaks of a time when there is no more sea, when every tear is wiped away, and death is no more.
This was the only reference to Christianity–besides the profaning of God’s holy name—I found in the film up to that point. Neither Jack nor Rose ever cry out to God for help. None of the major characters give the slightest indication of Christian conviction.
The cleric was leading his little doomed flock to remember and count on what was to come for the faithful. I often read from Revelation 21-22 to my dying wife, Rebecca. It is no mere desperate or romantic hope. It is as real as the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15), which is a well-established fact of space-time history. (See my chapter, “The Resurrection of Jesus” in Christian Apologetics. This has become two chapters in the 2nd edition of the book.)
The Titantic’s string quartet finishes their performance by playing, “Nearer my God to Thee,” a Christian hymn. (Whether this happened is debatable, but it is another upsurge of truth in an otherwise secular film. People not familiar with hymns will not catch this.)
The final scene features a dream or perhaps an afterlife experience of the surviving Rose, who is now elderly. She returns to the great banquet hall of the Titanic and is greeted by all who died and by her beloved Jack, who died just before she was rescued. They kiss to the applause of all. You cry. (This is similar to the final scene of “Places of the Heart,” which is more specifically Christian, since all are taking the Eucharist.)
Yes, there will be a great eschatological reunion. This is why followers of Christ do not “grieve as the world grieves.” We have hope. This hope, however, is not some vague, misty, romantic wish that all will turn out well. This hope, as the Apostle Paul affirms, “does not disappoint us.” But this hope is reserved for those who have been redeemed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior. It is not automatic for all. You must be converted.
The elderly Rose says that “Jack saved me in every way I could be saved.” That is false. Jack inspired her, inflamed a deep bound of friendship and romance. But only Jesus Christ can save us from the curse of the law, since the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is the work of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf. We are saved, rescued, and redeemed by lifting up the empty hands of faith, trusting in his saving achievements. By God’s grace and love, I did this in June of 1976. Have you done so?