“Jack Might’ve Lived,” How the Ending of “Titanic” Could Have Been Different
The 1997 classic, Titanic, broke multiple records after its release, including rising to the top of the list of the highest-grossing films of all time, a spot it held until 2010. To mark its 25th anniversary, the film’s writer and director, James Cameron, revisited one of the ending scenes. He answered a question that has been haunting fans for years: whether or not Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) could’ve survived if he had gotten on top of the raft with Rose (Kate Winslet).
The scientific tests are part of a National Geographic special.
For the upcoming special, titled Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron, the director put together a team with the goal of scientifically testing how the ending of one of his most iconic movies could have been different. Especially the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jack, dies due to having to stay in the freezing water, as opposed to on top of a makeshift raft occupied solely by Kate Winslet’s character, Rose.
For this to happen, Cameron hired 2 stunt people with similar heights and weights as the actors at the time of filming and consulted with a hypothermia expert. After performing 3 distinct tests, he arrived at the conclusion that in one specific scenario, Jack could have survived.
For the more optimistic outcome to play out, Cameron asked for the stunt people to perform every single action prior to finding the floating door that the characters went through, so that they would be as tired as their counterparts in the film. Then the director included a move that was missing from the movie: Rose gives her life jacket to Jack to help him keep his body heat for longer.
“He’s stabilized,” Cameron admitted. “He got into a place where if we projected that out, he just might’ve made it until the lifeboat got there. Jack might’ve lived, but there are a lot of variables.”
Even so, he believes that in the end, nothing would’ve changed because Jack stayed true to himself. “I think his thought process was, ’I’m not going to do one thing that jeopardizes her,’ and that’s 100% in character,” Cameron concluded.