Titanic is still one of the most beloved, talked about films ever released. That’s on top of it being the second highest grossing movie of all time. Its success is due largely to the public’s continued obsession with the emotional, tragic end of Rose and Jack’s brief courtship. To this day, movie enthusiasts are split over whether or not Jack’s death was inevitable. If you recall, Jack died after being exposed to freezing ocean water. Rose, partially shielded by the floating door she’d found refuge on, survived.
It’s the argument of some that Jack also could have survived if he just had crawled onto the wooden plank with Rose, while others believe that Jack’s added weight would have sunk them both. Over the years, several members of the cast and crew have weighed in on whether or not Jack’s death had to happen. Billy Zane, who played Rose’s temperamental fiancé, recently spoke with People to gave them his take on whether or not Jack had to die.
Cutting straight to the point, Zane said, “Your hero had to die. I don’t know what else would have done it. It had to happen.”
Zane’s brief answer is one shared by James Cameron, the film’s director. In late 2017, Cameron explained to Vanity Fair why he felt that Jack had to die.
“The answer is very simple because it says on page 147 [of the script] that Jack dies. Very simple.”
“Obviously it was an artistic choice,” he added. “The thing was just big enough to hold her, and not big enough to hold him.”
Jack’s death ruined Jack and Rose’s chance to have a happy ending, so it’s understandable that it still evokes strong emotions within people. Rose’s happiness was never the end goal of the film, however, according to the famed director. Cameron said that without Jack’s death, the ending of the film would have been meaningless.
“The film is about death and separation; he had to die.”
Though James claims that there was no room for Jack, he also points out that Jack died because of art, not physics.
“So whether it was that, or whether a smoke stack fell on him, he was going down. It’s called art, things happen for artistic reasons, not for physics reasons.”
James’ artistic license may have influenced Jack’s fate, but another Titanic scene would have been impacted if Jack had survived, as Cinema Blend points out. After an Elderly Rose passes away, she reunites with Jack and the rest of the crew in their young forms. If Jack had survived, those closing moments would have never occurred.