James Cameron performed a series of scientific tests to prove, once and for all, if Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack could have survived the shipwreck by floating on the makeshift door raft alongside Kate Winslet‘s Rose in Titanic. The debate has raged on between fans for years, and the Oscar-winning director finally put it to rest by detailing his findings for the upcoming special Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron, which had a sneak peek on January 31 on Good Morning America. The short answer, according to James: “Jack might’ve lived, but there’s a lot of variables.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 2, 2023
Using two stunt doubles of the same height and weight as Leonardo and Kate, James recreated the heartbreaking scene at the end of the movie in an industrial pool. In the first test, James disproves the theory that there was enough space on the raft for the star-crossed lovers to survive. While there is enough room for “Jack and Rose to get on the raft, they’re now both submerged in dangerous levels of freezing water,” James observed in the footage.
Notably, Kate had argued against this theory during an interview in December, although she wasn’t exactly strong in her conviction initially. “I don’t f***** know. That’s the answer. I don’t f***III know,” Kate said. “One thing I can tell you. If you put two adults on a standup paddle board, it becomes immediately unstable. I actually don’t believe that we would have survived if we had both gotten on that door. It would not have been a sustainable idea.”
For the second test, the stunt doubles positioned themselves on the raft again, with their upper halves remaining out of the water. “Out of the water, [his body’s] violent shaking was helping him,” James explained in the clips. “Projecting it out, he could’ve made it pretty long. Like, hours.”
The third test involved the stunt doubles performing all of the physically strenuous actions Jack and Rose performed before finding the door raft in the water, to have them tired out like Jack and Rose. The only difference between the third and the final test is that Rose gives Jack her life jacket, something that didn’t happen in the film, but proved quite valuable as the move “stabilized” Jack.
“[Jack’s] stabilized,” James exclaims in the clip. “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.”
And there we have it: Jack might have lived, if Rose had given him her life jacket, a plot device that didn’t happen. “No definitive answer,” one of the GMA hosts claimed as soon as the sneak peek was over.
James certainly doesn’t have much to worry about if the ending wasn’t plausible enough for fans, as they appear to gobble up whatever the artist has to offer. Case in point, James’ latest movie, Avatar: The Way Of Water, has already brought in $623.5 million at the domestic box office, taking down The Avengers ($623.4 million) to become the 10th-highest grossing domestic release of all time. Not too shabby considering the sequel to the 2009 blockbuster only just debuted in December. Now it ranks behind only Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and Titanic in terms of worldwide ticket sales. And yes, James was at the helm for three out of those top four movies.