Debate has long raged about the ending of James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic. On one side are the folks who say Rose basically let Jack die by not allowing him to climb onto the door she used as a raft after the pair escaped the sinking ship. On the other side are those who say Rose couldn’t let Jack climb onto the door with her either because there wasn’t enough room, or because the door would not have remained buoyant with both of them on top.
The TV show Mythbusters seemed to settle this debate years ago when they did an episode showing that there was room for both Jack and Rose on the door and that with a couple life jackets and a little work, Jack could have made the door float with both of them on it. In the eyes of director James Cameron, however, that theory is a bunch of garbage.
Cameron has been doing the press rounds lately, talking about the Alien and Terminator series, and about the Oscars and how they handle blockbuster movies. During his interviews, the Titanic ending controversy came up once again. Cameron explained to The Daily Beast in no uncertain terms why the Mythbusters are wrong in their conclusions about the door (via EW):
“OK, so let’s really play that out. 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 5-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. They’re fun guys and I loved doing that show with them, but they’re full of sh–.”
This isn’t the only time Cameron has done battle with folks questioning the accuracy of Titanic. Once the director was taken to task by physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson over some inaccuracies concerning the positions of stars in the sky on the night of the sinking, a criticism Cameron responded to by changing the sky for the 3D re-release. Never let it be said that James Cameron doesn’t listen to his critics. In the case of the door, however, Cameron doesn’t sound like he’s going to give in.
It’s sort of amusing that all these years later people are still debating details like this. It just goes to show the enduring impact of Titanic on popular culture. Cameron has been responsible for creating a handful of iconic movies, but Titanic seems to have the strongest grasp on the popular imagination.