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Titanic: James Cameron Films Documentary on Why Jack Had to Die

It's been perhaps one of the most annoying debates in pop culture history right up there with if Die Hard (1988) is a Christmas movie. This one regards James Cameron's 1997 historical drama film Titanic, which helped vault Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into superstardom. The climactic scene between the two of them comes near the end with a fateful decision that's been the subject of debate online, so much so that MythBusters dedicated an episode to test the theory with their own ingenuity. It now also includes Cameron, who's dedicated his time to putting any further debate to rest in the form of a documentary.

Titanic: James Cameron Films Documentary on Why [SPOILER] Had to Die
Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997). Image courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Titanic: Jack & Rose's Door Scene

Star-crossed lovers Jack (DiCaprio) and Rose (Winslet) found themselves among the last passengers to escape the doomed vessel, which sank in 1912. As both fell into the frozen icy waters of the Atlantic, Rose was on top of a door from the ship while Jack barely held onto its edge with his body still mostly submerged in the water. As they share their final moments together, both come to the realization that if Jack attempts to get himself onto the door, it would have capsized and sent both to a watery grave either by drowning or hypothermia. Jack dies before Rose eventually gets rescued by survivors making rounds on lifeboats trying to find stragglers.

Cameron spoke with Postmedia (via the Toronto Sun) on how he intends to prove his argument about how Jack had to die for Rose to survive. "We have done a scientific study to put this whole thing to rest and drive a stake through its heart once and for all," the director said while promoting his latest film, 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 as 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."

The director not only reasoned scientifically but also from a narrative standpoint too. "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," Cameron said emphatically. During a 2013 episode of MythBusters, hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage proved by MacGyver-ing Rose's life vest; the door could have remained buoyant enough for Jack to survive and Titanic having a happier ending.

Winslet doubled down on how Jack couldn't have gotten on without killing them both in the Happy Sad Confused podcast. After sharing her initial annoyance, "Look, all I can tell you is, I do have a decent understanding of water and how it behaves," the Avatar 2 star said based on her personal experience in water recreation. "If you put two adults on a stand-up paddleboard, it becomes immediately extremely unstable. That is for sure. I have to be honest: I actually don't believe that we would have survived if we had both gotten on that door. I think he would have fit, but it would have tipped, and it would not have been a sustainable idea. So, you heard it here for the first time. Yes, he could have fit on that door, but it would not have stayed afloat. It wouldn't." For more, including how Cameron disputes the Mythbusters segment, you can check out the Sun's report here. Avatar: The Way of Water is in theaters.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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