Millions of moviegoers suffered through the tragic death of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) after the supposedly unsinkable ocean liner hit that fatal iceberg at the end of James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic while his love Rose (Kate Winslet) clung to a piece of floating wood and escaped the same frigid fate.
But did DiCaprio’s character really have to die? Not according to a 2012 episode of Mythbusters, with hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage undertaking a series of experiments they say proved that both Rose and Jack could have plausibly survived by clinging to the same scrap of wood.
At the time, Titanic director Cameron offered a good-natured response. “I think you guys are missing the point here,” said Cameron back in 2012. “The script says Jack died. He has to die. So maybe we screwed up and the board should have been a little tiny bit smaller, but the dude’s goin’ down.”
Light-hearted criticism has also come from within the Titanic camp, with Winslet herself conceding that Jack’s death was unnecessary. During a 2015 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Winslet basically conceded that Rose let Jack “freeze to death” as they floated in the water after the ship hit the iceberg.
“I think he could have actually fit on that bit of door,” admitted Winslet, referring to the door Rose rested on. In the movie, Jack chose to stay in the freezing water in order to let Rose live.
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, however, Cameron is now defending Jack’s death at the end of the movie, declaring that there’s no way the two of them could have survived on that tiny board, adding that “Mythbusters” is “full of s***.”
“Look, it’s very, very simple: You read page 147 of the script and it says, ‘Jack gets off the board and gives his place to her so that she can survive.’ It’s that simple. You can do all the post-analysis you want,” declares the director.
“Okay, so let’s really play that out,” Cameron says of the movie’s ending, having clearly put a lot of thought into the Mythbusters episode. “You’re Jack, you’re in water that’s 28 degrees, your brain is starting to get hypothermia. 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. His 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.”
Cameron’s final assessment of Mythbusters: “They’re fun guys and I loved doing that show with them, but they’re full of s***.”
Twitter response seems in favour of Cameron, sharing the opinion that Mythbusters and those scrutinizing how the emotional scene played out are missing the point.