It’s been 20 years since Titanic landed in theatres, and to be honest, we’re still not over the fact that—spoiler alert!—Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack dies at the end. I mean, I feel like there was totally room on that wooden raft thing for both of them? Right? No? Luckily, director James Cameron is aware of how unfair this seemed for audiences, especially those of us for whom DiCaprio awakened certain adolescent desires.
“[T]he answer is very simple because it says on page 147 [of the script] that Jack dies. Very simple. . . . Obviously it was an artistic choice, the thing was just big enough to hold her, and not big enough to hold him . . . I think it’s all kind of silly, really, that we’re having this discussion 20 years later,” Cameron told Vanity Fairin an interview.
“But it does show that the film was effective in making Jack so endearing to the audience that it hurts them to see him die. Had he lived, the ending of the film would have been meaningless. . . . The film is about death and separation; he had to die. 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.”
“OK, so let’s really play that out: you’re Jack, you’re in water thats 28 degrees (-2C,) your brain is starting to get hypothermia. Mythbusters [who did an episode on the scene] 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 five to ten 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.”
And there you have it, folks. The scientific and artistic justifications for killing off your first big crush.