James Cameron is a talented filmmaker, but I can’t help but roll my eyes every time I hear him speak. Perhaps it is because there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and he knowingly crosses it whenever he is given an award, asked a question or simply has the opportunity to speak. Though, I’d be smug too if I wrote and directed two of the highest grossing films of all time. He has helmed some of the most memorable films in recent history, including “Avatar”, “Titanic”, “True Lies” and the “Terminator” franchise. So why do I harbor such animosity towards one of the world’s most innovative minds? It is because he ruthlessly killed off Jack Dawson, my first true crush.
I was not allowed to see “Titanic” in theatres. In my parents’ eyes, I was an innocent 9-year-old girl with chubby cheeks and unruly hair. My parents weren’t against me seeing the movie because of the dead corpses floating in the Atlantic Ocean. No, they didn’t want me to witness “Titanic’s” one nude scene. For a year I was kept in the dark until I finally saw it on VHS … with my parents’ supervision, of course. Since the first time I saw “Titanic”, I have been enamored by Rose’s wardrobe, the age of aristocrats and Jack Dawson. At one point I had seen the film enough times that I was able recite the whole movie. To this day, I still tear up at the very end of the film when Rose, dressed in a beautiful white gown, is reunited with Jack and the rest of the kind people aboard, including Mr. Andrews!
I feel a great sense of satisfaction when Rose and Jack are finally reunited, but the scene right before it never fails to make me angry. Rose is asleep and the camera pans across her collection of photos, some of which feature things Rose and Jack planned to do together. Cameron wants you to feel a sense of peacefulness knowing that Jack was never far from Rose’s heart, but every time I see it, bitter and ill feelings toward Cameron boil to the surface.
Until the re-release of “Titanic”, I was forced to accept Jack’s fate, although I never understood why he couldn’t have laid on the headboard as well. During press for the upcoming release of the anniversary DVD, someone asked Cameron point blank why Jack had to die. Cameron gave a perfectly plausible explanation: blame it on buoyancy. He even suggested, or challenged, the men on “Mythbusters” to recreate the situation, finally proving to all us naysayers that Jack’s death was unavoidable. In a recent “Mythbusters” episode, however, they disproved Cameron’s logic. All Jack had to do was tie Rose’s life-jacket beneath the board to create greater buoyancy, and all Rose had to do was scoot over. JACK COULD HAVE LIVED! The revelation wasn’t even the worst part. It was Cameron’s unapologetic admission that Jack died because that’s how he wanted Jack’s journey to end—not happily married to Rose, but dead at the bottom of the ocean.
Thank you, James Cameron, for breaking my heart not once but twice.