One Big Way Titanic Was Inaccurate, According To James Cameron

rose and jack during titanic sinking

Titanic came out twenty years ago, and although James Cameron is busy filming Avatar 2 right now, he's been gracious enough to talk about the 1997 movie throughout the year. Recently, National Geographic even aired a special on Titanic, during which the famous director talked about some of the things the movie was able to get right, and a few things the flick got wrong. Among the big mess-ups in the movie is the way the Titanic sank, which James Cameron now admits would have been impossible. He said during Titanic: 20 Years Later:

We found out you can have the stern sink vertically and you can have the stern fall back with and 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.

If it's been a while since you've seen Titanic, you may not remember exactly what happens, but as the front of the boat sinks into the water, the back of the ship juts up into the air, becoming more and more vertical. Jack decides he and Rose need to stay on the ship as long as possible and rush to the very edge of the stern as the ship continues to jut higher and higher into the air. Eventually, it breaks in half with a big snapping noise and plops back into the water with an even bigger splash.

In short, the whole thing plays out exactly like this:

Thanks to a little science experiment that involved sinking model ships, James Cameron later learned that his depiction in the movie wasn't perfect. There's no way the sinking could have played out in exactly the way it did in the big budget disaster movie. Although neither portion of the sinking would have been inaccurate by itself, combining the two parts of the sinking doesn't make a ton of sense in real life. Still, James Cameron has previously stated the scene above was the one that really captivated viewers during opening weekend and led to the film's behemoth box office, so I'm sure he's not all that upset about the gaffe.

James Cameron was working off the information he had at the time, and that information strove to be as accurate as possible, even when he had to fill in gaps on occasion. He says that even today, no one knows exactly the manner in which the Titanic sank, noting,

We can never prove what actually happened. We can only prove what might have happened.

Fans still love to debate about Titanic. In recent months, we've heard a lot about the Rose-sitting-on-the-door debate, with some people believing Jack could have also balanced on the door with Rose and James Cameron ultimately denying it. As part of the anniversary year, the film's lead, Kate Winslet, also admitted that she and other lead Leonardo DiCaprio still sometimes quote Titanic lines to one another for fun. There are a lot of great little stories about the Titanic coming out during its anniversary year, including stuff about the film's production, but this week we've also learned about some of the stuff that doesn't measure up. To learn more, catch a repeat of Titanic: 20 Years Later with James Cameron on Nat Geo.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.