This essay is an attempt to explore something I noticed when I saw James Cameron's Titanic on opening night. This concept did not occur to me immediately, but as I saw one of the scenes in the hallway where the water rushed down and around a corner, rushing towards the camera, it occurred to me that this scene was remarkably similar to the scenes in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining in which Danny sees a tidal wave of blood rushing down the hall towards him. Soon I began to notice other similarities.
Before I begin listing similarities between the 2 films, let me explain where I am coming from, and what I believe to be the explanation for these homages. Both Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) and James Cameron's Titanic (1997) are brilliant, powerful films that stand on their own merits as examples of excellent film-making. However, there does exist in film-making the concept of the "homage", a tradition that has been practiced by many of our best directors.
An homage is usually an aspect of a scene or a script that nods to an earlier work in respect. A recent example of an homage in film was the opening scene of Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown which paralleled the opening scene of Mike Nichol's The Graduate, both of which featured characters on a moving sidewalk in an airport while a pop song relevant to the film plays as a theme.
Fans of Titanic may feel that it is disrespectful to the real-life tragedy of the Titanic to compare this film to a "horror" film. In the contrary, I believe that the horror of both films is comparable. The sinking of the Titanic was a tragic single stroke that ended the lives of hundreds of innocent people. The Shining on the other hand, is a film that examines the phenomenon of psychotic murderers and the tragedies that they cause through their violent actions. Murder is an aspect of human society that has existed since pre-history, and thousands of people die tragically and innocently every year at the hands of madmen driven by the rages of psychosis. Only one character dies in The Shining, but the film still serves as a shocking example of how a person becomes a "psycho-killer".
It is my suggestion in this essay that it is possible that James Cameron paid homage to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (and of course, in some cases, the book by Stephen King on which the film is based) through specific scenes and script details in Titanic. It is worth mentioning that many of the similarities I mention here could very well be pure coicidence. Mr. Cameron himself may read this and say "Hey, I didn't notice that!", but nonetheless, the similarities, even if completely coincidental, are there, and I thought were abundant enough to compile for the reader's own consideration.