Titanic director James Cameron wasn’t kidding when he said he conducted a “scientific study” to debunk the theory that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio could have both fit on a piece of floating debris at the end of the 1997 film.
In a new clip from the upcoming documentary Titanic: 25 Years Later, the filmmaker is on hand as stunt people reenact the tragic scene, proving once and for all that DiCaprio’s Jack and Winslet’s Rose couldn’t both survive the shipwreck.
For a quarter-century, fans have debated the sequence, arguing that both characters could have floated atop the piece of debris above the icy waters; in the actual scene, Jack sacrifices himself to a hypothermic death in order to guarantee Rose’s survival. An episode of Mythbusters also surmised that Jack’s death was “needless.” Cameron refuted their results, and promised to conduct his own tests to validate the film’s ending.
“We have done a scientific study to put this whole thing to rest and drive a stake through its heart once and for all,” Cameron told the Toronto Sun in December. “We have since done a thorough forensic analysis with a hypothermia expert who reproduced the raft from the movie and we’re going to do a little special on it that comes out in February.”
That experiment features in Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron, premiering Feb. 5 on National Geographic. In the clip, Cameron is poolside as the stunt people act out the scene in cold-but-not-freezing waters, culminating in the debris sequence.
“The faster your heart’s beating, the faster that cooling blood from your arms and legs is coming into your core, taking your temperature down, so I was really curious to see what that did to Jack’s situation,” Cameron says in the clip. “And it’s pretty interesting: What we saw was, he got up there, and he immediately went into a really strong shaking, shivering.”
While fans will have to wait til next month for the end result, it’s assumed by the clip that the weight of Jack, already reeling from hypothermia, and Rose would be too much to keep the debris — which Cameron clarified was “a piece of wood paneling from the first-class cabin,” and not a door as many suspected — from partially submerging.
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