‘We have done a scientific study to put this whole thing to rest,’ Oscar-winning filmmaker says
For 25 years, James Cameron has heard your complaints about Jack Dawson’s heartbreaking death at the end of Titanic. And now he’s going to prove you wrong.
Ever since the film’s debut in 1997, moviegoers have debated the ending with many concluding that Rose (Kate Winslet) could have shoved over and made room for Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) on the floating door, thus saving his life (personally, I have always believed that there was plenty of space on that makeshift raft).
And after pleading his case for a quarter century that his beloved hero had to die for artistic reasons, the filmmaker is now planning to prove that Jack couldn’t have survived in an upcoming documentary.
“We have done a scientific study to put this whole thing to rest and drive a stake through its heart once and for all,” Cameron told Postmedia during an interview to promote his newly-released Avatar: The Way of Water.
“We have since done a thorough forensic analysis with a hypothermia expert who reproduced the raft from the movie and we’re going to do a little special on it that comes out in February. We took two stunt people who were the same body mass of Kate and Leo and we put sensors all over them and inside them and we put them in ice water and we tested to see whether they could have survived through a variety of methods and the answer was, there was no way they both could have survived. Only one could survive.”
But 25 years years after it became a box-office smash, does Cameron have a tingling of regret for not giving doomed Jack a happy ending?
“No, he needed to die. It’s like Romeo and Juliet. It’s a movie about love and sacrifice and mortality. The love is measured by the sacrifice,” he said emphatically.
When Titanic is re-released into theatres next February on Valentine’s Day, Cameron’s science project is going to run on National Geographic. “Maybe … maybe … after 25 years, I won’t have to deal with this anymore,” he laughed.
Cameron has been fending off questions about Jack’s demise for years.
In a 2013 episode of Mythbusters, hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage theorized that Jack could have survived by tying Rose’s life vest under the door to help with buoyancy. The duo concluded that “Jack’s death was needless.”
But in 2017, Cameron disputed the show’s findings.
“OK, so let’s really play that out: you’re Jack, you’re in water that’s 28 degrees; your brain is starting to get hypothermia,” Cameron told the Daily Beast. “Mythbusters asks you to now go take off your life vest, take hers off, swim underneath this thing, attach it in some way that it won’t just wash out two minutes later — which means you’re underwater tying this thing on in 28-degree water, and that’s going to take you five to 10 minutes, so by the time you come back up you’re already dead. So that wouldn’t work.”
Cameron went on to add that “[Jack’s] best choice was to keep his upper body out of the water and hope to get pulled out by a boat or something before he died. They’re fun guys and I loved doing that show with them, but they’re full of s—.”
In 2019, DiCpario weighed in on Jack’s death when his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood co-star Brad Pitt jokingly asked him whether Jack could “have fit on that door at the end of Titanic.”
After DiCaprio said he had “no comment,” the film’s other star, Margot Robbie, called the ending “the biggest controversy in modern cinema,” to which Leo replied, “Ever.”
For her part, Winslet has gone on record saying that she thinks Jack could have lived.
“I agree, I think he could have actually fitted on that bit of door,” she told Jimmy Kimmel in 2016.
But speaking to Postmedia, Cameron admitted he could have made a slightly different artistic choice. “Maybe I didn’t do it in a way that everyone agrees with, but Jack had to die. It’s that simple,” he said. “If I had to make the raft smaller, it would have been smaller.”
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