‘He has to die!’ ‘Titanic’ director says new investigation will finally settle controversy over Jack’s death

A couple of months past the silver anniversary of his award-winning film “Titanic,” director James Cameron revisited the debate over whether Jack could have survived with Rose with some “pretty hard and fast conclusions.”

(Video: National Geographic)

It’s been 25 years since the December 1997 release became the first film to gross over $1 billion at the box office, but for some, the heroic sacrifice by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jack to save Kate Winslet’s Rose has remained a controversy. Previewing the upcoming National Geographic documentary “Titanic: 25 Years Later” while speaking on a Television Critics Association panel Friday, Cameron broke down recent recreations while getting nit-picky over terminology.

“A new investigation we’ve just done will settle this fan-based question about Jack and Rose and a piece of floating debris, which everyone calls a door,” he said. “It’s, technically, not a door. It’s a piece of wood paneling from the first-class cabin.”

Regardless of what the makeshift raft used to be, the first look showed stunt doubles recreating the experience in the final moments of the fictional Jack’s life after the Titanic sank with some tweaks for safety. Rather than swim in 28-degree water like that of passengers on the 1912 voyage, the stunt doubles were swimming in a pool set to 56 degrees where they “doubled the time for every stage.”

“That actually plots out quite accurately, according to the algorithms,” Cameron explained. “We weren’t trying to prove or disprove anything, we’re just trying to say, ‘If you do this, does it make it better?'”

As seen in the promotion, the stand-in actors replicated Rose getting dunked and Jack throwing punches before even simulating his successfully joining her on the debris. “Across four tests, we came to some pretty hard and fast conclusions,” he teased without giving away the results of the “forensic investigation” before the Feb. 5 release of the documentary.

Winslet has changed her answer to the question over the years, joking with Jimmy Kimmel in 2016 that “I think he could have actually fit on that bit of door,” but suggesting the opposite on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast in December.

After first reacting, “I don’t f*cking know,” the actress went on to say, “I actually don’t believe that we would have survived if we had both gotten on that door. I think that he could have fit, but it would have tipped, and it would not have been a sustainable idea.”

Meanwhile, DiCaprio had said on the podcast, “I have no comment.”

Actors opinions aside, the MythBusters had attempted to tackle this question more than a decade ago and concluded with some ingenuity, not only would both Jack and Rose have been able to get out of the water, but if they used her life preserver to add buoyancy to the wood, they could have been more comfortable and would have both plausibly survived.

(Video: Discovery)

When confronted with those results at the time, Cameron replied matter-of-factly, “I think you guys are missing the point here. The script says Jack dies. He has to die. So maybe we screwed up and the board should’ve been a little, tiny bit smaller but, the dude’s goin’ down!”


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