Woonsocket Call

‘Titanic’ speculatio­n: Did Rose let Jack die?

Winslet, Cameron take opposite views on whether DiCaprio would have fit on the floating door

- By YANAN WANG The Washington Post

It’s considered one of the greatest love stories of the past century. A young man and woman of vastly different means meet in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean aboard a ship bound for a tragic end. One dies to save the other, he, sinking into the freezing deep, while she, wistfully promising that she’ll never let him go.

“Titanic” did a lot of things for people alive in the 1990s. It made us weep. It pushed us to rethink boundaries between the rich and poor. And it taught us about the human devastatio­n of a real-life disaster.

As Celine Dion soulfully crooned, our hearts have gone on and on and on for the ballad of Jack and Rose. Some, however, have had more trouble than others with moving on.

These people know who they are. They’re the ones who were mere teenagers when they watched “Titanic” for the first time, their conception­s of romance forever shaped by the sight of a destitute artist and a wealthy heiress dancing an Irish jig. They are, in fact, the numerous letter writers who wrote pleadingly and accusingly to director James Cameron years after the movie screened with a single question: “Why did Rose let Jack die?”

This is the crux of a viral meme that started making the rounds a few years ago, more than a decade after “Titanic” came out in 1997. The idea is that there was ample space for both Rose and Jack to fit on the makeshift raft on which Rose staves off hypothermi­a before being saved. But instead of sharing, Rose lets Jack cede the entire board to her, leaving him to freeze in the water as she dramatical­ly grips his hands.

So was Rose just selfish? “Titanic” fans who subscribe to this “room for two” notion have called our female protagonis­t any number of vile names that cannot be repeated here. But this week saw the most biting indictment yet of the contentiou­s heroine — one from the person closest to Rose herself.

Actress Kate Winslet appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Monday to discuss her varied and prolific career. Referring to Winslet’s proximity to “Titanic” co-star Leonardo DiCaprio at the Screen Actors Guild Awards over the weekend, Kimmel quipped, “People were very excited that you were sitting next to or near (DiCaprio) at the show, even though in a way you let him freeze to death in the water, because the way I see it —”

“No, I agree,” Winslet interjecte­d, nodding. “You know, I think he could have actually fit on that bit of door.”

“There was plenty of room on the raft!” Kimmel said.

Winslet concurred: “I know! I know!”

Well, that settles it. Even the actress who played Rose isn’t on her side. Cameron, on the other hand, has been more defensive of his character. When asked about the controvers­y in 2012, the director gave a response upholding the film’s romance:

“It’s not a question of room; it’s a question of buoyancy. 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. So, he makes a decision to let her be that person.”

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