James Cameron admits Jack could have survived Titanic

James Cameron
Photo: Chung Sung Jun (GettyImages)

Ok titanic fans, YouTube video essayists, and “Let’s debate this topic” Hinge prompt users everywhere: it’s time to put this one to rest once and for all. From the mouth of James Cameron himself, Jack could have maybe, possibly survived his watery grave at the end of titanic. But there are still, according to the director, “a lot of variables” to consider. And no, he couldn’t have just gotten on the door with Rose.

Cameron weighed in on the quarter-century-old debate for the upcoming National Geographic special Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron, which celebrates the film’s anniversary. In a sneak peak, Cameron walks audiences through a highly scientific test involving two costumed stunt doubles, a (hopefully above-freezing)) pool, a fake door, and a whole lot of simulated shivering.

Cameron and the stunt performers ran three tests. In the first, both actors simply try to get on the door. As predicted, it doesn’t work. (Sorry Hinge prompt users, but MythBusters did tell us as much as six years ago.) With both Jack and Rose on the door, it would have submerged further into the water, exposing both to the deadly freezing temperatures. Not quite the happy ending fans have been clamoring for.

Next, the stunt performers find a position where both of their upper bodies are out of the water, protecting their vital organs. Projecting it out, he could have made it pretty long. Like hours,” says Cameron. Promising, but it’s important to remember that Jack and Rose have been running around and thrashing to stay afloat in the water for hours before this. Factoring in the fatigue, they might not have been able to maintain these positions for the time it would take the rescue boats to arrive.

Finally, a helpful diver holds the performer playing Rose underwater and very kindly lets the performer playing Jack splash him in the face a bunch of times to simulate the exhaustion the characters might have endured. In this test, Rose also gives Jack her life jacket because he can’t stop shiverring. He’s stabilized. He got into a place where if we projected that out, he just might have made it until the life boat got there,” says Cameron.

The final verdict? Jack might have lived, but there’s a lot of variables. I think his thought process was ‘I’m not gonna do one thing that jeopardizes her.’ And that’s 100% in character.”

So there you have it, folks. You either die a romantic hero or live long enough to steal your girlfriend’s life jacket. Now, can we finally, finally let this debate die? (Too soon?)

Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron airs February 5 on the National Geographic Channel.


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