Movie Reviews

Titanic's Door Plot Hole Fully Debunked: Why Jack Couldn't Survive The Ending

Summary

  • Jack would have been able to fit on the door, but his and Rose’s combined weight would have made the door sink further into the water, endangering them both.
  • Mythbusters proved a way for Jack to survive, but his death added to the film’s message.
  • Even if Jack and Rose consistently switched places, the cold water still would have led to hypothermia.



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One of the biggest controversies surrounding Titanic is the debate about whether Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack could have fit on the floating door with Kate Winslet’s Rose and survived, but there is one major reason why that would’ve been impossible. The 1997 epic romantic disaster film was inspired by the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912. The ship was making its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City when it hit an iceberg, and after almost three hours, the Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, over 300 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland.


Titanic
won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Song for “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.

Director and writer James Cameron was inspired by accounts of the Titanic‘s sinking to develop his 1997 movie, which incorporates several historical figures, like Molly Brown and Captain Edward John Smith. However, although the film was based on a real-life disaster, the story at its center is completely fictional. Jack and Rose and their tragic romance was created by Cameron, so, Jack’s death at the end of Titanic was also fabricated by the filmmaker, and after watching the movie, some believe that Jack could have survived.



The Real Reason Jack Couldn’t Fit On The Door At The End Of Titanic

The Issue Wasn’t The Door’s Size But Jack & Rose’s Combined Weight

Some argue that the door that Rose rested on in the ocean after the Titanic sank was big enough to fit her and Jack. Nevertheless, Jack sacrificed his life to save Rose’s by floating in the freezing water while she lay on the door in the 1997 epic romantic disaster film. The couple hoped that lifeboats would come back to rescue them before the cold killed them, but that was not the case, and Jack died of cold shock. Rose was later picked up by a lifeboat and went on to live a long and happy life, thanks to Jack.

If Jack got on the door with Rose, the piece of wood didn’t have the buoyancy to keep them both afloat.


Titanic‘s controversial door has been at the center of many debates regarding whether it could have saved Rose and Jack. However, even though the door was theoretically big enough to fit the two characters, that wasn’t the real problem. If Jack got on the door with Rose, the piece of wood didn’t have the buoyancy to keep them both afloat. The movie even proved this when Jack attempted to get on the door, and it began to sink, so, he let Rose lay on it alone. Ultimately, the door’s size wasn’t the issue in Titanic, it was Jack and Rose’s combined weight.

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What Mythbusters Has Said About Titanic’s Door Plot Hole

Mythbusters Proved There Was 1 Way For Jack To Survive

Mythbusters Titanic door episode


The Titanic door debate made its way to Mythbusters, a reality science series that features its hosts and experts using science to either prove or debunk myths. During an episode of Mythbusters in 2012, hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman made it their mission to test if Jack could have fit on the door alongside Rose and lived instead of Jack sacrificing his life to save Rose in Titanic. They came to the conclusion that there was a way for both Jack and Rose to survive. However, it wouldn’t be as simple as Jack climbing on top of the door.

Even if Jack could have somehow survived at the end of
Titanic,
his death was important to the film’s message and themes about love and sacrifice. So, James Cameron would have just found another way to kill Leonardo DicCaprio’s character.


Savage and Hyneman proved that the door was big enough to fit Jack and Rose. But the piece of debris from the sunken ship couldn’t have supported their weight and would have sunk further into the freezing water, killing them both. If Jack and Rose were clever enough to think to tie Rose’s life jacket underneath the door to help with its buoyancy, it very likely would have been able to support the two characters long enough for the lifeboat to rescue them. The only problem is that, in James Cameron’s eyes, Jack had to die in Titanic.

Titanic Cast

Character

Kate Winslet

Rose DeWitt Bukater

Leonardo DiCaprio

Jack Dawson

Billy Zane

Cal Hockley

Frances Fisher

Ruth DeWitt Bukater

Kathy Bates

Molly Brown

Victor Garber

Thomas Andrews

Bernard Hill

Captain Edward John Smith

Jonathan Hyde

J. Bruce Ismay

Danny Nucci

Fabrizio

Gloria Stuart

Modern-Day Rose Dawson Calvert

Bill Paxton

Brock Lovett


What James Cameron & Titanic’s Cast Have Said About The Ending’s Door Problem

The Director Admitted He Should Have Made The Door Smaller

Of course, James Cameron and a couple of other Titanic cast members have commented on the door controversy in the 27 years since the movie premiered. Cameron, specifically, has been quite involved in testing the odds of Jack surviving and defending his choice to kill off Leonardo DiCaprio’s character at the end of his epic romance disaster film. The director, writer, and producer took part in a National Geographic special, Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron, that premiered in early 2023, which featured Cameron and scientists exploring the shipwreck’s myths, including if Jack could have lived.


Cameron’s experiment to save Jack, the specifics of which can be found in Entertainment Weekly, worked when the two balanced on the door, with their chests above water, and shivered (to better conserve heat). Jack and Rose might have been able to use this method to survive long enough for someone to rescue them. However, numerous other factors could have prevented this from working. Cameron said:

“Final verdict: Jack might’ve lived, but there’s a lot of variables. How much swell is there, how long does it take the lifeboat to get there. In an experiment in a test pool, we can’t possibly simulate the terror, the adrenaline, all the things that worked against them. He couldn’t have anticipated what we know today about hypothermia. He didn’t get to run a bunch of different experiments to see what worked the best … Jack’s survival might have come at the price of [Rose’s] life, [and] there’s a code of chivalry that men had in those days. Add to it his individual character — he’s in love with her, a grand epic love which is self-sacrificial — I think his thought process was, ‘I’m not going to do one thing that jeopardizes her’… and that’s 100 percent in character … Based on what I know today, I would have made the raft smaller, so there’s no doubt.”


Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron
is streaming on Hulu.

Meanwhile, MTV News questioned DiCaprio about the door controversy in 2019. Although they tried to get him to say anything about the debate, DiCaprio continuously responded, “No comment.” Kate Winslet, on the other hand, vocalized her thoughts about the infamous door during an interview with the Happy Sad Confused podcast in 2022. Winslet said:

“I actually don’t believe we would’ve survived if we had both gotten on that door. I think that he could’ve fit, but it would have tipped. It would not have been a sustainable idea.”

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Could Rose & Jack Have Swapped Places To Keep Them Both Alive?

Some Believe Rose & Jack Could Have Taken Turns

Another method that some believe could have kept both Jack and Rose alive in Titanic is if they took turns on the door. But this likely wouldn’t have worked because of how cold the water was (and the two characters’ state of mind). The estimated water temperature that night was 29 degrees, and once a human’s body temperature reaches below 85 degrees, they lose motor control.

Even though Rose was on top of the door the entire time in the movie, her body temperature still severely dropped.


If Jack and Rose switched places every 60 seconds or so, their bodies still would likely have dropped below 85 degrees before the lifeboat came to rescue them (about an hour later). Plus, even though Rose was on top of the door the entire time in the movie, her body temperature still severely dropped. So, given that Rose almost died even though she was on the door and the fact that any time spent in the water would have increased the speed at which their body temperatures decreased, constantly switching places wouldn’t have saved Jack in Titanic.

Titanic poster

Titanic

Titanic is the 1997 blockbuster romantic/disaster epic based on the events surrounding the sinking of the legendary “unsinkable” vessel. Flashing back to the past and forward to the present, the film primarily follows the stories of the well-to-do and somewhat timid Rose and the poor but lively Jack, star-crossed lovers who meet aboard the doomed ship. In addition, the film tells true and fictionalized accounts of the passengers of the RMS Titanic, with an older Rose recounting her tale to the crew of a research ship. 

Release Date
December 19, 1997

Runtime
3h 14m

Sources: Entertainment Weekly, MTV News, Happy Sad Confused

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