Released in 1997, the James Cameron film Titanic captured the hearts of millions around the world, and helped to propel Leonardo DiCaprio into the public consciousness. Although it’s third-highest-grossing film of all time and undeniably a classic, I have a particular gripe with the movie that I’m sure is shared by many of its fans. I think you know what I’m talking about. It’s that scene toward the end.
Jack and Rose have fallen in love, the Titanic has met its demise at the hands of an iceberg, and with the two lovers hanging on for dear life to a door floating on the icy, choppy waters. Jack nobly sacrifices himself to ensure that Rose lives on, and around about that time, I always get some dust or something in my eye.
I’ve never bought, however, that there wasn’t enough room for two people to float to safety on that door. It’s a big door, and when faced with the threat of drowning, I’m pretty sure Rose could make some room for her lover on there. This insane theory about Titanic, however, might help to explain one of movie culture’s most pressing questions in a surprising way.
Now, before we delve into this mind-blowing hypothesis, let’s look back to the beginning of Titanic, and specifically, the life of Rose, portrayed expertly by Kate Winslet. Rose is an upper-class woman, but she’s trapped in an abusive relationship with her fiancé, she’s miserable, and when she encounters Jack for the first time, she’s about to jump off the side of the Titanic, ending the film before it even starts.
Fortunately, Jack talks her down, and the two begin to fall in love. They hang out on the bow of the ship, he paints her like one of his French girls, and the two consummate their relationship in a car, the most romantic of wheeled vehicles. Finally, at the film’s climax, Jack ends his life to save hers, and their bittersweet relationship is forever preserved. It sounds almost too good to be true, but what if it was? What if Jack never got on the door with Rose because he never even existed in the first place?
Yes, this fan theory posits that Jack was just a figment of Rose’s imagination, as she struggled to come to terms with her uncomfortable future, and helped her to reclaim her independence aboard the Titanic. It’s a little outlandish, I’ll admit, but the evidence for Rose having made up Jack is pretty compelling.
Despite how lovingly Rose remembers her fallen beau, there’s no physical evidence that Jack ever existed. The present day, 101-year-old Rose admits that she’s never spoken about Jack to anyone, and when asked about him by the treasure hunter, Rose mentions that Jack exists “only in [her] memories”. What if Rose’s memories were the only place that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character existed?
It’s also important to remember that the film was based upon the real-life sinking of the Titanic, which plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912. In the movie, Rose mentions that Jack told her he spent his childhood living by Lake Wissota in Wisconsin, but in reality, that would have been impossible; Lake Wissota is an artificial lake, and one that was only filled five years after the Titanic sank.
All in all, it makes for an interesting alternative perspective for a movie we all know and love, but how plausible is the idea that Jack is a figment of Rose’s imagination? I don’t know about you, but for me, the idea that Rose, desperately unhappy with her relationship, might put together the perfect guy in her mind is slightly plausible. Whether or not that’s what James Cameron had in mind, it’ll make the movie a bit more interesting for me the next time I watch it.