Watch James Cameron recreate Titanic floating door scene to see if Jack fit with Rose
In the words of (old) Rose, "it's been 84 years" since James Cameron could step out in public without someone asking him about the long-gestating theory that, near the end of his Best Picture-winning epic Titanic, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) could've survived the sinking of the titular ship if he'd just gotten on that floating door next to the love of his life, Rose (Kate Winslet).
Ahead of the film's Feb. 10 theatrical re-release, the 68-year-old filmmaker puts the speculation to rest in the upcoming National Geographic special Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron. In it, Cameron works with a team of scientists to recreate the scene and test four different scenarios in which Jack actually climbed aboard the wreckage, too.
.@GMA FIRST LOOK: @natgeo special “Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron” will settle the debate once and for all: could Jack have survived?@JimCameron@natgeotv pic.twitter.com/OkKCXaEkvF
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 2, 2023
In the first round, "Jack and Rose are able to get on the raft, but now they're both submerged in dangerous levels of freezing water," Cameron observes in the clip above.
Next, the team fits both actors on the raft in a position that lifts their upper bodies — and vital organs — out of the water, increasing their chances for survival.
Spencer Stoner/National Geographic James Cameron recreated 'Titanic' floating door scene to see if Jack fit with Rose.
"Out of the water, [his body's] violent shaking was helping him," Cameron continues. "Projecting it out, he could've made it pretty long. Like, hours."
For the final test, the actors perform all of the physically strenuous actions Jack and Rose went through prior to finding the floating door — including the scene where another passenger tries to use Rose as a floatation device, only to be met with a heavy blow from Jack's fist. They also add an extra moment that didn't happen in the film, as the Rose in the experiment gives Jack a life jacket for added protection.
"He's stabilized," Cameron observes. "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's a lot of variables. I think his thought process was, 'I'm not going to do one thing that jeopardized her,' and that's 100 percent in character."
Merie W. Wallace/20th Century Fox James Cameron and Leonardo Dicaprio on the set of 'Titanic'
The topic has long been discussed by fans of Titanic, and Winslet weighed in during the promotional tour for her role in Cameron's latest wet-and-wild adventure, Avatar: The Way of Water.
"I have to be honest: I actually don't believe that we would have survived if we had both gotten on that door. I think he would have fit, but it would have tipped and it would not have been a sustainable idea," Winslet said in December on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. "So, you heard it here for the first time. Yes, he could have fit on that door, but it would not have stayed afloat. It wouldn't."
Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron — celebrating 25 years since the film's Best Picture victory at the 1998 Oscars — premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on National Geographic, and streams the next day on Hulu. Watch Cameron test the floating door theory in the clip above.
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