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Linear notes from the set of ''Titanic''

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If God is in the details, then viewing the nearly three-hour Titanic might just be the religious experience director James Cameron promises. From the White Star emblem on the table settings to the 775-foot-long, 10-story re-creation of the luxury liner itself, no expense was spared in the pursuit of accuracy — to which the budget ($180 million and rising) attests. ”If you went back in a time machine to the ship, this is exactly how it looked,” says Cameron.

The film does, however, veer from history in at least one respect — its tale of star-crossed love between a dreamy artist named Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Philadelphia crumpet Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is fiction. Obstacles they overcome to keep romance afloat include an intrigue with a very large diamond. ”You fall in love, and then your love is tested by a trial. Here, that trial is life or death,” Cameron says, ”and that is when the story gets interesting.” Right down to a possible Hollywood-style twist ending: At press time, Titanic‘s elaborate postproduction was reportedly jeopardizing its July 2 opening date.