Comparison between the old version (taken from the British DVD by 20th Century Fox, "Deluxe Collector's Edition") and the new version (2012) (taken from the US Blu-ray by Paramount)
It has already been 15 years since James Cameron sunk the Titanic for the first time. In the meantime, only he was able to break his own box office record with the 3D spectacle Avatar. Despite his own ramblings against movies converted to 3D (when plugging Avatar), he afterwards thought again and decided to bring Titanic back to the big screen, this time in 3D. This was done in April 2012, the following September saw the release of the home cinema releases of the new version, now also for the first time on Blu-ray.
It has been known since the theatrical release that one scene was changed for the re-release. A famous astronomist had told Cameron, that the star sign at the end of the movie (seen from Rose's perspective) could actually not be seen on that day. James Camern's own statement: (source):
Looking at the final version, we have to realize that this last sentence obiously should not be taken literally. We can say that there are no cuts and no alternative footage resulting in no running time difference, however, some digital alterations were applied to the available footage.
The probably most distinct difference is the altered background (sunset) during the famous "I am flying!" scene with Leo and Kate. Whether this was a good call is subject to taste. Also, the night sky is now consistent, at least in the first half of the movie. The original version sometimes showed some stars in one shot that were not visible in another. This is actually a good transition to the other alterations...
...because most of them consist of corrected goofs/ mistakes. Visible lighting equipment or tools like threads etc. were removed. However, there are still more than enough of the more than 200 goofs left, so nostalgics should still be able to find some of them. For example, the 2012 version still shows the shadow of a microphone behind the old Rose in the 15th minute, or a reflection of the camera in a door in the 56th minute, or... Some continuity errors like the suddenly repaired glass of the box of the emergency axe in minute 124 or the following change of Leo's clothes are also still to be found, but this can actually be seen as a good thing. At least the producers were not after changing everything possible, as a certain Mr. Lucas does from time to time...
All in all: Nothing too bad happened, the movie is still the same and was not castrated or face-lifted. The Blu-ray version is also probably one of the top quality releases this year. The pictures on this page do not show the full quality, after all this is a cut comparison page, but a direct compariosn e.g. on caps-a-holic.com is strongly recommended.
This comparison calls the two versions “old” and “new”, because the newly released DVD most probably contains the same version as the Blu-ray.
Running time designations are formatted like this:
Old version in PAL / New version from the US Blu-ray
Note: The old version was distributed on two DVDs, from the second disc on it will be "Running time Disc 2 (Added total running time)"
The UK DVD displays the 20th Century Fox logo, the US Blu-ray features the Paramount logo instead.
Note: This may vary depending on the distributing company in your country.
no difference in running time
05:20-05:23 / 05:33-05:36
The overlay "Left Eye" is missing in the new version during the first underwater shots of the camera robot, the visible part of the picture is further upwards accordingly. (The pictures show the same frame, as always.)
06:26-06:31 / 06:42-06:47
"Left Eye" can now also be seen in the 2,35:1 edit of the new version (after a shot in which it could not be seen in both 2,35:1 versions), however, the image section differs again. The new version was The new version features a slightly bulged picture here, which has the positive effect of the overlay not being cut off halfway by the lower black bar anymore.
Shortly afterwards more camera robot shots are following, in which the overlay is sometimes cut off or missing completely – in both versions. Therefore, a clear strategy cannot be seen here.
36:51-36:54 / 38:26-38:29
After several shots, in which stars could be seen in the sky (which first appear to be more in the old version despite an identical background due to a different brightness setting in the old DVD master) there is a small difference: Only the new version shows some stars in this shot as well. Probably, there were two different backgrounds used in the old version, a continuity mistake which has now been removed.
37:32-40:59 / 39:08-42:43
The sideways shot of Rose also only shows stars in the new version. This applies to many following shots, which are not discussed individually but only have the same difference: The old version does not feature any stars in the background, the new one a few as in the previous shot.
The shot following immediately afterwards serves as further demonstration for this because it seems to be most drastic: A completely black background at first and then suddenly very many stars.
During the sinking of the Titanic, many of these goofs are present in both versions, e.g. the two similar shots of the prist in the 151st minute. Unfortunately, they were not very consistent with this correction.
40:50-40:52 / 42:34-42:36
During this last block of background correction, there was also another goof corrected: Some lighting equipment can be seen on the left when the crew runs towards Rose, who was just saved by Jack. This was not digitally removed in the new version.
45:24-45:26 / 47:21-47:23
This cannot really be shown on screenshots, the picture only serves as orientation here: When Rose and Jack walk over the deck and talk (Jack: "You could just call me a tumbleweed blowing in the wind.") the camera shakes lightly. It seems as if the camera man bumped into his equipment a bit. This was corrected, too.
47:19-47:31 / 49:20-49:32
Another removed goof in the same scene: Towards the end, some mountains can be seen in the background that were probably forgotten during the post production of the movie. These are also now a thing of the past.
76:56-77:20 / 80:13-80:38
After the moment, in which Jack turns to Rose, the sky in the background was completely redone in all shots in which he can be seen.
78:43-78:48 / 82:04-82:09
After the "I am flying!" scene, which was altered in terms of coloring (the extreme red hue was removed), there is another small change: When the hands of the two lovers are shown, the sky in the background was exchanged again.
15:07-15:08 (= 118:50-118:51) / 123:44-123:45
Looking for Jack, Rose hits one man in the face, causing his nose to bleed. It is now no longer visible that he actually puts the blood there himself with his hand.
24:06 (= 127:39) / 133:08
Some city lights in the background were removed when they come back on deck.
25:01-25:05 (= 128:34-128:38) / 134:04-134:08
Several objects below the life boat were removed. Also compare the high definition comparison at caps-a-holic, which shows more details.
31:17-31:18 (= 134:50-134:51) / 140:35-140:36
Some lighting equipment in the upper left corner was removed when Jack and Rose flee from Cal's shooting.
36:51-36:53 (= 140:24-140:26) / 146:24-146:26
One of the passengers falls into the water, next to him some long black threads, probably cables of the equipment, can be seen in the old version and were now removed.
41:15-41:24 (= 144:48-144:57) / 151:00-151:09
Previously, one of the threads that pull down the two glassed in front of Mr. Andrews could be seen (the small grey/white thing on his coat), this was now removed as well.
46:04-46:05 (= 149:37-149:38) / 156:01-156:02
The chimney buries Fabrizio. In contrast to the goofy first version, the tip of it now stays black the whole time.
51:42-51:43 (= 155:15-155:16) / 161:45-161:46
A short shot shows a passenger trying to hold on to a prop. The old version still showed that it was just made out of plastic because he obviously damages it in the procress. After the reproduction, it stays sturdy and smooth.
58:23-58:26 (= 161:56-161:59) / 168:51-168:54
At the beginning of the shot, another object in the water was removed.
63:20-63:25 (= 166:54-166:59) / 174:01-174:06
The only alteration confirmed by Cameron: When Rose looks up to the sky, the right view of the milky way can be seen.
After the credits, a different notice can be seen at the end (this may as well be dependent on the indiviual DVD/BD release).
One final note: There seems to be some difference even between the 2D and 3D versions: For example, some small streaks of Rose's hair are missing (e.g. next to her left ear).