At 68, James Cameron has few regrets as a director: his career has led him to give birth to three of the four biggest hits in world cinema, including the essential Titanic, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
But on the eve of the return to the big screen of this blockbuster, in an anniversary edition, the Canadian confesses that he would have conceived this drama differently, if he had been able to foresee the indignation of the fans, outraged by the tragic death of the hero, Jack, at the end of the movie
“Given what I know now, I would have made a smaller raft, so there was no doubt!”
, he laughs.
A quarter of a century after its release, debates are still raging among fans.
Many maintain stubbornly that the chilled lover embodied by Leonardo DiCaprio should never have died after the sinking of the liner.
All he had to do was get on the improvised raft to save his sweetheart, Rose.
Instead, the sweetheart decides that the door that Kate Winslet's character is floating on isn't big enough for two, and sacrifices herself to save it from the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.
The Titanic has this sort of enduring, almost mythical, romantic quality to it.
Persistent, the controversy surrounding his death is just one example of how the story of the Titanic
“seems to never end for the public”
, estimated James Cameron during a press conference before the return of the movie on the big screen this week.
“There have been far greater tragedies since the Titanic”
and its sinking caused by a collision with an iceberg in 1912, he adds, mentioning the two world wars which bereaved the 20th century.
“But the Titanic has this sort of enduring, almost mythical, romantic quality to it.”
"I believe it has to do with love, sacrifice and death
," adds the director, pointing
"the men who did not board the lifeboats so that women and children might survive"
For the 25th anniversary of the film, released in December 1997, the director tested the theory of the fans, thanks to a life-size test in a pool of icy water, with two stuntmen and an exact replica of the door used for the filming .
During this performance, performed for a documentary made by National Geographic, the two extras taking over the roles of Rose and Jack were equipped with several thermometers to measure the speed at which they would be victims of hypothermia.
Experience revealed that Jack's tragic fate was not inevitable.
Jack could have possibly survived.
But it depends on many variables.
A first test where the wanderer clings to the door without climbing on it, as in the film, confirms that he would have died of hypothermia.
But a second test, where the stuntmen manage to balance on the door to keep their torsos - and therefore their vital organs - out of the water, suggests that Jack could have been saved.
In this scenario,
“he might have been able to hold out until the lifeboat arrived
,” admits the director.
Jack could have possibly survived.
But it depends on many variables
For its return to theaters a week before Valentine's Day, this tragic love story does not include an alternative ending.
That shouldn't stop it from adding to its dizzying box office: With $2.2 billion at the global box office,
is the third highest-grossing movie ever in theaters, behind the superhero movie
and another juggernaut from James Cameron,
Including the second part of the saga,
Avatar: the way of the water
, currently in theaters and whose receipts will soon exceed those of Titanic, James Cameron collected with his three biggest films $ 7.25 billion, or the equivalent of Bermuda's GDP.
Before Titanic, the doxa (...) wanted a long film not to be able to bring in money.
Figures that the director strives to put into perspective.
“I grant you that 100 million of our box office
is due to the charm of Leonardo DiCaprio on 14-year-old teenage girls,”
Beyond having made its fortune,
and its three hours above all left another legacy.
"Before Titanic, the doxa (...) wanted that a long film could not bring in money"
, remarks James Cameron.
The blockbuster proved otherwise, paving the way for the first Avatar and its acclaimed three-hour eco-fable.
The second part of the saga now lasts
“three hours and twelve minutes”
, underlines James Cameron.
"And he's been very successful."