After Settling Titanic’s Door Debate, James Cameron Tested Another Part Of His Movie With Science

Bill Paxton in Titanic
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Two and a half decades after sending Titanic to theaters, and just as the 2023 new movie releases are starting to overtake Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron still hasn’t let go. Always pushing for scientific accuracy, and to provide more fodder for discussions on the internet, Cameron recently settled “the door debate” involving Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s characters. This has allowed the Academy Award winner/blockbusting mastermind to focus on a new subject of scientific inquiry: the sinking of the Titanic itself.

As part of the new special Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron, the film’s director wasn’t just testing whether or not Jack and Rose could survive on that fateful door together. EW picked up on another question that has apparently been weighing on James Cameron’s scientifically inclined mind for some time now. And in his own estimation, how the RMS Titanic sank was “half right” in the 1997 blockbuster thanks to Cameron sharing these results in the special: 

We found out you can have the stern sink vertically and you can have the stern fall back with a big splash, but you can't have both. So the film is wrong on one point or the other — I tend to think it's wrong on the 'fall back of the stern' because of what we see at the bow of the wreck. I think we can rule in the possibility of a vertical stern sinking, and I think we can rule out the possibility of it both falling back and then going vertical. We were sort of half right in the movie.

Score another point for James Cameron against… James Cameron. Undoubtedly, the historical accuracy of Titanic is something that’s been debated ever since its December 1997 debut. Just as Cameron feels it’s the right time for Jack and Rose’s cinematic return, it’s apparently a good moment to check his own work on some of the movie's most questioned moments. This time, thanks to more updated models and some help from experts at the U.S. Navy, the filmmaker ruled that the horrific way that his sinking took place couldn’t have happened.

Highlighted in the quote above, James Cameron admitted that the stern section of the “Ship of Dreams” could have either fell back flat into the water, or it could have sank vertically. Both pieces are theoretically possible, but the scenario pictured in Titanic’s sinking scene, shared below, has just been busted: 

The world is gearing up for another round of Titanic versus Avatar thanks to the re-release of that romance classic facing off against The Way of Water for its box office crown. Though it’s still one of the greatest disasters in all of history, James Cameron admits that he’s balanced his scientific curiosity with the serious nature of the Titanic’s sinking. Perhaps with these continued scientific exploits, the next generation to be obsessed with this moment in history will be able to carry the torch of knowledge.

Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron can be seen on the National Geographic Channel. Those readers with a Hulu subscription can also enjoy this scientific inquiry, as it’s currently streaming on that platform. Don’t forget that this weekend marks the 4K 3D re-release of Titanic, sailing straight into theaters to break your heart all over again.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.