Mythbusters Is Wrong: Jack and Rose Would Have Died

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 8 2012 4:28 PM

Jack and Rose Were Doomed

52025455
A scene from Titanic

Photo by MERIE WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

If you Google the phrase “they both could have fit,” you’ll find photos and comment threads devoted to the argument that, at the end of the movie Titanic, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) both could have fit on the bit of flotsam that saved Rose’s life as Jack looked lovingly on, eventually freezing to death. One particularly popular photo series even implies that the two could have fit comfortably enough on there to, say, play some pinochle while awaiting rescue.

Silly as it may seem to debate the ultimate plausibility of a work of fiction, this little Internet parlor game managed to get James Cameron’s attention. “It’s not a question of room, it’s a question of buoyancy,” the director has argued. “Jack puts Rose on the raft, then he gets on the raft—he’s not an idiot, he doesn’t want to die—and then the raft sinks.  So it’s clear that there’s really only enough buoyancy available for one person.” Now the show Mythbusters has gone ahead and tested this proposition. Their conclusion: Jack and Rose could have survived.

Advertisement

Cameron defers graciously to their conclusion, merely insisting that the script called for Jack to die, so maybe he and his production crew should have designed the plank to be a little smaller. But once he watches the video above, I think he’ll reconsider even that amount of deference. In order to keep them both safely afloat, the Mythbusters guys had to tie Rose’s life preserver around the bottom of the makeshift raft. Even then, they were still partially submerged, meaning that they would have remained vulnerable to the freezing cold water that finally claimed Jack. They may be right to deem it “plausible” that Jack and Rose could have survived, but really, the movie is vindicated by this test: Jack and Rose were doomed.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.