It seems like we’ve been having this argument every few months for the past 20 years: Why the hell was Rose so selfish that she couldn’t at least TRY to scootch over and let Jack scramble onto the door and get out of the 28 degree water and LIVE. As Jezebel points out, young Leonardo diCaprio was still a wee bit of a thing in 1997, he would’t have taken up much room. He could have huddled quietly in a corner, not upsetting the balance at ALL. But no. He slipped into the icy abyss after just a few minutes, while Rose got to float to safety and move on to a life of flying airplanes and having babies and tossing priceless jewels into the damn ocean for no good reason.
Now prickly director James Cameron addresses the controversy in an interview with Vanity Fair, definitively putting this question to rest with this annoyingly irrefutable bit of logic: Jack died because the script said so.
“And the answer is very simple because it says on page 147 [of the script] that Jack dies. Very simple… Obviously it was an artistic choice, the thing was just big enough to hold her, and not big enough to hold him… I think it’s all kind of silly, really, that we’re having this discussion 20 years later. But it does show that the film was effective in making Jack so endearing to the audience that it hurts them to see him die. Had he lived, the ending of the film would have been meaningless… The film is about death and separation; he had to die. So whether it was that, or whether a smoke stack fell on him, he was going down. It’s called art, things happen for artistic reasons, not for physics reasons.”
Um, OK. “Artistic” not “physics reasons.” Gotcha. He went on to say:
“I was in the water with the piece of wood putting people on it for about two days getting it exactly buoyant enough so that it would support one person with full free-board, meaning that she wasn’t immersed at all in the 28 degree water so that she could survive the three hours it took until the rescue ship got there. [Jack] didn’t know that she was gonna get picked up by a lifeboat an hour later; he was dead anyway. And we very, very finely tuned it to be exactly what you see in the movie because I believed at the time, and still do, that that’s what it would have taken for one person to survive.”
So there. Case closed.