Did Jack Dawson (as played by Leonardo DiCaprio) die needlessly in the film Titanic when he decided not to climb on the wooden door life raft with his beloved Rose (Kate Winslet)?
Fans have long debated whether Jack could have clambered aboard the wooden door and potentially saved himself from his dramatic hypothermic drowning after the ship’s sinking.
Tired of the endless fan debate, the film’s director, James Cameron, decided to provide the definitive answer.
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On tour to promote his new film Avatar: The Way of Water, Cameron reminded everyone that he’s always said Jack had to die for drama’s sake. It’s Romeo and Juliet in the North Atlantic, after all.
But now Cameron told The Toronto Sun that he undertook a scientific study to prove “once and for all” that Jack wouldn’t have survived even if he had hoisted himself onto the floating door.
“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 said. “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.”
The test went like this: “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.”
That conclusion is different from the one arrived at by the MythBusters television show, which attempted the same sort of test way back in 2012. Their conclusion: “With all we’ve learned, I think Jack’s death was needless,” cohost Jamie Hyneman concluded. So yes, it’s plausible that both Jack and Rose could have survived on the board if they’d MacGyvered her life jacket.”
Of course, all of that goes out the window, since Cameron controlled the storytelling and had a different vision. In his view, Jack “needed to die.”
“It’s a movie about love and sacrifice and mortality. The love is measured by the sacrifice,” Cameron said.
He hopes that after February’s National Geographic special airs alongside a 4K theatrical re-release of Titanic, the matter will be put to rest.
“Maybe after 25 years, I won’t have to deal with this anymore,” he joked.