It’s something every teenage girl at the end of the 1990s seeing Titanic for the fifth time was thinking: Leo DiCaprio so could have fit on that wooden board instead of freezing in the water and dying. Now the popular show MythBusters has finally taken the time to weigh in on the topic with its expert reenactment skills.
In James Cameron’s 1997, 11-Academy Award winning film, the female lead Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is left at the end floating on a wooden board in the freezing Atlantic after the White Star Line ship had floundered. Her lover in the film, Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) is in the water and ultimately freezes to death. At the time, die hard Leo fans felt both Rose and Jack could have fit on the debris and survived.
The Discovery Channel show has officially tested this theory to see if Jack could have floated alongside Rose who was rescued little more than an hour later. Mythbuster’s Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage — two grown men — in the episode “Titanic Survival Results” try to get on a similarly sized piece of wood in the San Francisco Bay for their test.
“When we first got on, it felt anything but stable. Just like the movie and the small scale test we did,” Mythbusters said. “It felt like we would tip at any moment.”
Naturally, the duo had an idea to “spread the buoyancy around.” They took off the life vest Rose would have been wearing and strapped it underneath the wood. This kept them as a pair out of the water for the most part.
Watch the clip:
“However noble Jack’s intentions might have been, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor,” Hyneman said. “With all we’ve learned, I think Jack’s death was needless.”
Mythbusters then goes on to inform Cameron, who was a guest on the show, of their findings. When informed that the couple both could have survived on the board — had they thought to strap the life jacket under it to add more support and propped their bodies up out of the water – Cameron says “I think you guys are missing the point here.” That point being that the script says Jack dies.
Cameron does acknowledge that maybe movie makers should have made the board a little smaller to ensure the plausibility of Jack’s required death.
Mythbusters wasn’t the first to take on this more-than-decade old question though. Earlier this year, a couple jokingly posted an image on Imgur showing all the different configurations of how Jack and Rose could have both fit on the board.
Although less of an actual test compared to Mythbusters, the image makes its point too.
But, as Cameron said during his appearance on MythBusters, it was in the script and no matter what “the dude’s going down.”
This story has been updated to correct a typo.