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NatGeo Titanic 25th anniversary special finally reveals if Jack could have survived

Published Feb 5th, 2023 10:34AM EST
Titanic movie still
Image: CBS via Getty Images

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Despite the persistence with which fans of his 1997 blockbuster Titanic have debated this question over the past 25 years, director James Cameron has consistently dismissed any suggestion that Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack could have survived on that makeshift raft at the end of the movie. Now, though, with Titanic set to return to cinemas next week in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary, a NatGeo special airing this weekend will try and put that question to rest, once and for all.

James Cameron finally admits: ‘Jack might have lived’

On February 5, Viewers will finally get to see the result of an experiment Cameron teased a few months ago, in which he used stunt people similar in weight and build to Jack and Rose to see what could happen differently after recreating the conditions toward the end of the movie.

Cameron puts the stunt people in similarly cold water. They’re thrashing around, the “Jack” double swims over and expends energy to “save” Rose, and there’s also a large door to simulate the one in the movie.

Right away, though, you’ve probably spotted some weaknesses with the experiment.

For one thing, the stunt people aren’t in literal fear for their lives, which has an impact on the level of adrenaline pumping through them. They also haven’t used up the same amount of energy as Jack and Rose would have during the long, slow sinking of the Titanic, as they swam away from the wreckage. The door, in this case, was also big enough that both stunt people tried to hoist themselves up on it, resulting in the door sinking and both of them “drowning.”

There was one position where both stunt people figured out how to keep the parts of their bodies containing vital organs above the water for a sufficient amount of time  — leading Cameron to concede that “Jack might have lived, but there’s a lot of variables. I think his thought process was ‘I’m not gonna do one thing that jeopardizes her.’ And that’s 100% in character.”

The return of Titanic, the movie

This weekend’s special will provide plenty of fodder like that for fans of the movie who’ve debated this for years. As for the movie itself, a remastered version of the film that won multiple Academy Awards is coming back to theaters for a limited time on February 10. It’s being re-released in 3D, 4K HDR, and high frame rate.

The Titanic movie has an 88% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a 69% audience score (based on more than 250,000 user ratings). Meanwhile, Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron will air on the National Geographic Channel this Sunday, February 5, at 9 p.m. ET.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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