For a single reason, James Cameron‘s Titanic has long been the subject of criticism: Why didn’t Jack just stay on the door with Rose so they both could live? After being the subject of jokes in the media and just in casual conversation, Cameron decided to put together his own myth-busting session to put the question to rest, once and for all — assembling a pair of stunt people, a door, and freezing cold water, to see what would have happened to the doomed lovers in a variety of scenarios.
There are a number of variables to be considered here, and that’s why the experiment isn’t as simple as just saying he could or couldn’t fit. Even if he were to stay afloat, their combined weight could change how Rose was able to balance, further endangering her life. If most of her vital organs became submerged, the amount of time she’d be conscious and alive before rescue would be reduced. Obviously, the water where the Titanic crashed was extremely cold, meaning that drowning wasn’t the only potential risk.
The experiment consisted of multiple rounds, where a few different variables were tweaked. In the first test, it was realized that “Jack and Rose are able to get on the raft, but now they’re both submerged in dangerous levels of freezing water.” For the last test, Jack was given a lifejacket, but the actors standing in for Jack and Rose were also made to do all of the strenuous physical activity that the duo engaged in before making it onto the door.
“Out of the water, [his body’s] violent shaking was helping him, Projecting it out, he could’ve made it pretty long. Like, hours. He’s stabilized, He got into a place where if we projected that out, he just might’ve made it until the lifeboat got there. Jack might’ve lived, but there’s a lot of variables. I think his thought process was, ‘I’m not going to do one thing that jeopardized her,’ and that’s 100 percent in character.”
You can see a first look at the experiment from Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron, as well as Cameron giving an explanation below.
Here’s more of the experiment as well: