This month 20 years ago saw the release of what was only the biggest movie of all time. Really: Titanic was, at the time, the most expensive movie ever made, the highest-grossing movie in box office history, the movie that won the most Oscars, and the movie that stayed in the theaters the longest. Two decades along, we’ve still got Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starring in blockbusters and winning acting awards, and we’re also still learning new things about Titanic.
1. Some people think Jack isn’t real.
So there’s a fan theory that suggests the perfect romance between Jack and Rose was so perfect because Rose completely dreamed it up. Supporting evidence: There’s no evidence of Jack on board, and Rose dreamed him up on the eve of her wedding to Cal to escape the cold, stifling future that awaited her. Except that Jack isn’t on the manifest because he won his ticket at the last minute…and also because Jack interacts with, like, tons of people on the Titanic, including Rose’s friends and family. It would, however, suggest why she doesn’t let him hang out on that floating door with her. (Because he’s a figment.)
2. Jack could have lived, says math and teens.
In 20 years of existence, the biggest point of debate regarding Titanic is why Jack didn’t get on that floating hunk of debris with Rose and save himself, rather than hang out in frozen ocean water and then sink under and die. It’s implied that there isn’t room, but in certain shots of the scene, there totally looks like there’s room. Three teenagers were recognized by Australia’s National Maths Talent Quest for proving that Jack didn’t need to die. “We looked at how buoyant the door would have been, and how that would have changed if there were people on top of that,” 15-year-old Abigail Wicks told The Advertiser. “There was a lot of exploring and testing, and we had to fiddle with different buoyancies and look at what materials were realistic for that time.” Their findings: Jack and Rose would have made it if they both got on the wood, and put their life jackets underneath it to help it stay floating.
3. Jack couldn’t have lived, says James Cameron.
However, the god of any art is its artist, and for Titanic that’s writer-director-producer James Cameron. He told Vanity Fair that Jack had to die because, essentially, Titanic is Rose’s story, and his death is the impetus for how she lives the rest of her life. In other words, Jack died for the sake of art and storytelling. “Had he lived, the ending of the film would have been meaningless,” Cameron said. “The film is about death and separation; he had to die.” As for if Jack could have fit on the floating door or not, it’s irrelevant. “It’s called art, things happen for artistic reasons, not for physics reasons.”
4. Jack dying is out of character.
Popular science guy (specifically, he’s an astrophysiicst) Neil deGrasse Tyson is apparently a hardcore Titanic fan…or he just likes to nitpick. In 2012, he wrote James Cameron to let him know that the stars in the night sky in the movie were wrong; Cameron fixed it in the movie’s 3-D re-release. This year, he expressed his feelings toward a storytelling issue, as opposed to scientific. Whether Jack could have made it onto the raft is one thing, it’s his lack of trying that irks Tyson. “I wouldn’t tried more than once. You try once. ‘Oh, this is not gonna work. I will just freeze to death in the water.’ No, excuse me. No!” Tyson told The Huffington Post. “The survival instinct is way stronger than that in everybody, especially in that character. He’s a survivor, right? He gets through. He gets by.”
5. Have we misjudged Rose and Cal?
The least debatable element of Titanic: Cal Hockley. He’s ostensibly the human bad guy of Titanic, abusing Rose, trying to stop and even kill Jack, and lying and cheating his way to get onto one of the precious lifeboats. But this year, Dana Schwartz of Entertainment Weekly wrote a controversial (if tongue-in-cheek) think-piece arguing that maybe, just maybe, Cal isn’t such a bad guy. Schwartz points out that Rose treats Cal, who is her fiancé, “terribly. She flirts with a hot stranger, goes to a party with a hot stranger, makes out with a hot stranger, sleeps with a hot stranger, and lets the hot stranger draw her naked wearing the necklace Cal bought for her.” It’s also notable that Rose is an unreliable narrator. She’s the one telling the story, in her old age. It’s all from her point of view, so naturally she’s going to make Cal look bad. Such as the scene where he pretends to be the parent of a little kid to get into a lifeboat, or when Cal puts the Heart of the Ocean in Jack’s pocket to frame him. Rose wasn’t there for those things. How does she know? She might just be lying.
6. Kate and Leo are never, ever, ever getting together.
Apart from the incredibly sad domestic drama Revolutionary Road, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio aren’t going to be husband and wife, you guys. First of all, Leo would never settle down with Kate because she isn’t a 21-year-old Victoria’s Secret model. Second of all, these two are deep in each other’s friendzones for life. Their relationship is a very silly, goofy one. “You don’t even want to know the last conversation we had, because it was so funny and made me laugh so much,” Winslet told Glamour. We found ourselves saying to each other, ‘Can you imagine if the world really knew the stupid things we say?’” Among those stupid things are Titanic lines. Hey, Hollywood stars: They’re just like us!