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The student news site of Londonderry High School

Lancer Spirit Online

The student news site of Londonderry High School

Lancer Spirit Online

25 years later, Titanic ‘never let go’ of its impact

The+new+and+improved+poster+for+the+25th+anniversary+%28courtesy+of+IMDB%29
The new and improved poster for the 25th anniversary (courtesy of IMDB)

Valentine’s Day may have taken center stage this past week, but there was another huge event that may have been even more important. Forget the flowers, chocolates, and teddy bears; the real stars of February 2023 were Jack Dawson, Rose DeWitt Bukater, and the seemingly unsinkable ship: the RMS Titanic. 

In 1997, Titanic hit the screens for the very first time, becoming an instant classic (it now stands as the third highest grossing movie of all time). With the 25th anniversary passing by this year, several theaters have re-released the iconic film for a limited time on the big screen.

Director James Cameron created one of his masterpieces with this 90s film. Cameron has been credited as one of the most successful directors of all time, with three of his movies taking spots in the top five grossing movies of all time list (Avatar, Titanic, and Avatar: the Way of Water). 

Titanic follows the story of Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), a rich American who boards the Titanic in Southampton, England. Her family was recently bankrupted, her father leaving her and her mother with nothing, so Rose is forced into an arranged engagement with Caledon Hockley—a pretentious man who isn’t kind to her. When she first boards the ‘unsinkable’ ship, she turns up her nose at it, seeing it as more of a cage to be trapped in with her fiancé rather than an opportunity.

The film also follows Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a poor boy from America who was stuck overseas due to lack of money. Mere minutes before the Titanic sets out to sea, Jack and his friend Fabrizio win tickets for the grand ship. They’re only third class, but the two eagerly rush to the ship, not aware of its soon to be tragic fate.

Despite all of the odds against them, Rose and Jack find themselves in the middle of a love story that has remained timeless and iconic since the release of the blockbuster movie in 1997. 

A strong highlight from Cameron’s hit film is the praise from critics. They note how accurately he portrays the famous ship, even though it sits 13,000 feet below sea level. It may be sad to hear that Jack and Rose’s love story isn’t based on real people, but Cameron made sure that every other aspect of design in Titanic was done with careful consideration and research. The shots of the sunken ship at the beginning of the film are even shots of the actual Titanic on the Atlantic floor.

Surviving photo from the titanic (top) compared to shot from the film (bottom) courtesy of IMDB

One example of Cameron’s astute attention to detail comes during a scene in which Jack steals a coat. The exact layout of the scene is taken directly from an actual surviving photograph taken on the Titanic from a man who departed the ship at its last stop in Ireland before its sinking. The old photo shows a young boy playing with a top and two older men standing nearby. The picture even shows a coat in the background, which is the very coat that Jack picks up in the movie.

Another hint toward actual Titanic events is the detail of the musicians playing songs in their last moments. As confirmed by Titanic survivors, the musicians played to calm passengers as they attempted to flee the sinking ship. They played ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee’ in their final minutes and are considered heroes.

The love story between Jack and Rose takes the forefront of the film in a way that reminds the viewer of the beautiful stories of people who were simply living their lives, the bad and the good, with no idea what was ahead of them.

SPOILER ALERT: everything beyond this point includes potential spoilers for the film. If you have not seen Titanic and wish to remain spoiler-free, stop here.

Surprise: the boat sinks. Although viewers know the fate of the ship, and all its passengers, from the very beginning, Titanic still holds one of the most controversial endings in film. When the Titanic sinks, Jack and Rose are stuck in the frigid 28 degree water, which is lethal to any person after an extended period of exposure. Rose is able to climb on top of a door to stay out of the water, while Jack is left holding on to the door, using it to keep himself afloat in the water. As he begins to freeze, he lets go of the door, and audiences are subjected to a heartbreaking shot of him floating down to the ocean floor while Rose sobs that she’ll “never let go” of him and his memory. For years, the debate between fans has been that Rose could have fit Jack on the door.

Cameron finally took matters into his own hands 25 years later and did a forensic analysis to prove that both Jack and Rose couldn’t have fit on the door, to end the debate once and for all.

The team Cameron assembled used two people of the same body mass as Winslet and DiCaprio during the filming of Titanic for the experiment. The two were put into freezing water to resemble that of the night the Titanic sank. After experimenting, Cameron was able to prove that although, yes, the two could have potentially both fit on the door, it would have been extremely unstable and compromised their chance at survival. Cameron notes that he wrote Jack’s character with the intent that he was selfless and brave, and he would be willing to do anything to keep the woman he loved alive. His love for Rose persevered above all else.

This iconic movie left a mark on millions of people, and continues to do so even after 25 years. It still has “never let go” of its heart wrenching, impactful story and remarkable quality. 

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About the Contributor
Michaela Horan, Copy Chief
This is Senior Michaela Horan's second year on staff at the Lancer Spirit, and this year she is the position of copy chief. She's the author of the Rolling Hills series, the first of which was published in 2021. She enjoys writing music and doing theater and loves being on staff.

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25 years later, Titanic ‘never let go’ of its impact