Could Jack Have Survived the Unforgettable Disaster? James Cameron Investigates

Fatima Araos
Rose and Jack dancing in "Titanic"
Getty | Archive Photos

Fans can’t seem to let go of this debate, so James Cameron is stepping in.

People have been questioning for decades whether Jack, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, could have survived the Titanic’s sinking if he had gotten on the floating door with Rose, played by Kate Winslet. To put the matter to rest once and for all (hopefully), the film’s director conducted a scientific investigation, complete with reenactments of the scene.

It's Part Of A National Geographic Special

Cameron, who did the analysis as part of a National Geographic special, used two stunt people to test four scenarios.

First Scenario

"Titanic" door scene

In the first scenario, both people got on the floating debris with their midsections and lower limbs submerged in the water.

Could Both Have Survived?

Cameron concluded that neither Jack nor Rose could have survived because part of their bodies would still be subjected to freezing temperatures. When the Titanic sank, the sea was 28°F, which would possibly have killed a person in 30 minutes.

Second Scenario

Poster of "Titanic"
Flickr | Roberto Rognoni

Now, what if Jack lifted his upper body out of the water and left only a small part of his legs submerged? To do that though, he would have used up more upper body strength with a lot of arm shaking.

Jack Could Have Lived A Bit Longer But…

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in a scene from "Titanic"
Flickr | hjiezoye67

Cameron said that this scenario could have extended his life by few hours. However, he probably wouldn’t have had enough strength and energy to hold that pose for long.

Third Scenario

Clip from "Titanic"

In the third scenario, Cameron took into account the fact that both Jack and Rose had endured a lot of action, and were already exhausted even before the door scene. They reenacted the part where a man attacked Rose to try to get her life jacket, and Jack came to defend her.

Fourth Scenario

Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio and James Cameron on the set of "Titanic"
Flickr | samwstorage86

After the previous scenario, both went back to the door and Rose gave her life jacket to Jack to try to keep him warm and floating.

Jack Wasn't Going To Jeopardize Rose

"Titanic" door scene
Flickr | Truus, Bob & Jan too!

Cameron admitted this could have bought Jack time and protected him at least until a lifeboat came to the rescue. “But there's a lot of variables,” he added. “I think his thought process was, ‘I’m not going to do one thing that jeopardizes her.’ And that's 100 percent in character.”

The Verdict

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in "Titanic"
Flickr | Truus, Bob & Jan too!

TL;DR: After Cameron did this analysis, he revealed in an interview that “there was no way they both could have survived. Only one could survive.”