Titanic’s alternate ending gives the film a different meaning.

While James Cameron Avatar: The Way of Water it happened Titanic on the list of the highest-grossing films of all time, its Oscar-winning 1997 recently received a boost from a 25th-anniversary theatrical re-release that played in sold-out theaters and earned the film another $50 million worldwide. It is a testament to the power of TitanicThe central love story and disaster film so thrills that even with the film readily available for home viewing, fans are still willing to see it again in theaters.

But one thing they won’t get in theaters is the chance to see the alternate ending of Titanic, a longer, more detailed cut that Cameron ended up reducing to the minimalist version in the theatrical edition. Many would argue that Cameron made the right choice and avoided sinking the film’s final emotional beat. But the public is lining up to see Titanic again really losing?

At Polygon, we are divided. So we’re here to present our evidence and decide: the alternate ending of Titanic better than the original?

The Polygon Tribunal is now in session.

(Ed. observation: End spoilers ahead for two versions of Titanic.)

Opening Statements: The End of Titanic, Momentarily Explained

Tasha: Let’s start with a quick rundown of the two versions we’re debating here. James Cameron Frames Titanic like a treasure hunt, where in 1996, savior Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and his crew are looking for the “Heart of the Ocean”, a huge blue diamond embedded in a necklace that supposedly went down with the Titanic. After finding a drawing of a nude woman wearing the Heart of the Ocean in the Titanic’s vault where they hoped to find the diamond, they track down the painting’s subject, elderly socialite Rose (Gloria Stuart), to inform them of her time. on the Titanic in 1912 (when she was played by Kate Winslet).

In the theatrical finale, 1996 Rose gets out of bed after the story ends and silently pulls the Heart of the Ocean from her pocket and throws it into the sea. She’s kept it the whole time as a memento of her doomed romance with young homeless Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), and hasn’t told Brock, her staff, or her adult granddaughter Lizzy (Suzy Amis), who is also on the rescue boat. Then she goes back to bed and dreams of 1912. (Or maybe she dies and is reunited with Jack? That’s my interpretation for sure, but some people definitely see it differently.)

In the longer original ending, Brock and Lizzy see her on deck and think she is about to kill herself by jumping overboard. They confront her and see that she has the necklace, and she lets Brock touch it and understand that he will never own it before she throws it in the water. Otherwise, the ending is pretty much the same. Does that sum up everything we need to know?

Patches: Let me emphasize the tonal difference of these two scenes: backed by James Horner’s ethereal score, then a reprise of the classic theme, the official ending of Titanic plays out like a silent closing moment. The alternate ending is like a Super Bowl commercial parody of the real ending, where Old Rose is suddenly played by the rap grandma of the wedding singer.

Evidence Presentation: Which Titanic Is Better?

Image: Paramount Pictures

Tasha, the Titanic alternate ending case: I understand why Cameron opted for the simpler version: it emphasizes Rose and her emotions and the 1912 love story that makes this film what it is. You don’t have to worry about anyone’s feelings about throwing that diamond and what it costs everyone on that boat. But that leaves everyone’s story unresolved! Poor Brock can spend the rest of his life looking for a necklace he’ll never find, while Rose just smirks silently about it! (Or, you know, die on your boat.) You just don’t care about anyone’s feelings here?

Patches, the case of the original ending of Titanic: If Brock spent three hours listening to Rose tell her story only to return to the hunt for the Heart of the Ocean, then the man deserves the cloud of failure that comes with a Sisyphean assignment. Brock sucks! He’s charming enough in the movie because Bill Paxton was a god among men.

But on some level, he’s the anti-Cameron. Cameron’s observant devotees know that he spent unimaginable amounts of money and time building submersibles on the high seas just for the thrill of going where no man has gone before – or in the case of his actual dives on the wreck of the Titanic, to feel the ghosts of the Titanic. past. Brock just wants money. Cameron describes him in Titanicscreenplay of how “a wiley (sic), fast-talking treasure hunter, a salvage superstar who is part historian, part adventurer, and part vacuum cleaner salesman.” Emphasis on the vacuum cleaner salesman—the guy is all bullshit. I don’t care about his feelings, and Rose is right to keep him in the dark about the Heart of the Ocean.

Tasha, the Titanic alternate ending case: Brutal, Mat. Vacuum cleaner sellers are people too! OK, if you don’t mind the thrills of the alternate ending, how about the humor? Brock’s assistant coach Lewis (played by Lewis Abernathy) speaks for all of us when Rose throws the diamond and he yells, “That really sucks, ma’am!” He’s right! And it’s cathartic! Brock and his crew are running low on cash and have spent three years of their lives on this thing that Rose just screams into the sea in front of them. She has a right – it’s hers, after all – but don’t Brock and Lewis also have a right to know that their quest is over and that this woman deliberately lied to them, blocked them and cut them off at the knees? Isn’t covering it all up a little cheap?

Patches, the case of the original ending of Titanic: Rose knows wealth doesn’t buy happiness – see the previous two hours and 45 minutes! – and she’s actually helping Brock by making that priceless diamond disappear. In the alternate cut, he would know where to dive next. And to her point, Rose looks downright sinister in the alternate cut. she has a real Drag me to Hell Evil smile on her face as she dangles the Heart of the Ocean from the back of the ship, taunting Brock for his greed. It’s really the first draft for Cameron, who, while no stranger to direct dialogue, knew this scene was everything he wanted to say but shouldn’t say it out loud. We know why it would be bad for Brock to have the Heart of the Ocean and why Rose needs to unload her weight in the waters in order to move forward – from her past and the mortal coil.

Images: Paramount Pictures

Tasha, the Titanic alternate ending case: Hey kid, you’re not selling me on the “It’s for your own good” angle. It takes a real sadist to say, “I’m ruining you financially and making the last three years of your life useless without even telling you about it… For your own good! You should be less materialistic!” But I’ll give you the point about Rose’s “I’m not stinky” facial expression in the alternate ending. That was an odd look.

One thing I don’t love about the alternate ending is the little faux-drama moment where everyone thinks Rose is about to jump overboard and kill herself. It feels like a high as a way to heighten the threat of the moment. But it’s an interesting callback to young Rose contemplating suicide, similarly hanging from the side of the Titanic when she’s desperate about the marriage she’s being forced into. I’m all for visual and narrative feedback between different eras in a story like this that spans so much time.

Patches, the case of the original ending of Titanic: I’m also all for visual and narrative callbacks between different eras of a story, but only when they’re not directed like cutscenes. collide.

Tasha, the Titanic alternate ending case: OK, come on, you don’t understand anything from the moment when Rose lets Brock hold the diamond he’s been looking for all this time, just for a moment, and he consciously makes the decision to let go of it and not try to stop her? And then he laughs like a freak at the treasure he just let go?

Paxton himself said he was fine with the cuts and that his own story needed no resolution, but this is the kind of thing actors say all the time when they’re trying to be good sports and promote their projects without complaining about their scenes getting cut. But I think he does a strong job in this scene, and I really like the way he communicates Brock’s conflicting emotions at this point. He knows he has no claim to the Heart of the Ocean if it is not recovered, he knows he cannot wrest it from this old woman and hope to keep it, but he is also consciously choosing to give up years. of his life and who knows how much money, all because of a stranger’s big symbolic moment. It’s meaningful!

Patches, the case of the original ending of Titanic: I don’t think Paxton is blowing smoke or remaining loyal to his director when he says that Cameron made the right move in cutting his story’s resolution from the film. That’s because Brock isn’t a character in the story that requires resolution – he’s the audience. This is Rose’s story, her romantic saga, her strength to become an independent woman divorced from cultural norms. When viewed in isolation – the only way any of us can see this alternate ending – yes, we’ve got more of that sweet, sweet Paxton juice, but it’s not bearing the brunt of the previous two hours, seen completely through Rose’s eyes. . In the actual ending, we lose track of Brock’s quest for the Heart of the Ocean, instead skimming through the story. Just like him.

Tasha, the Titanic alternate ending case: Don’t you think her moment with the jewel is more meaningful when she has an audience? She is saying goodbye again to Jack, her youth and her life, effectively. I like having other people there to share the moment and understand the impact of it – particularly her granddaughter, who is seeing Rose and her life in a new light right now. (And also watching her heritage sink into the sea. She has a right to know that too.)

Patches, the case of the original ending of Titanic: Rose owes nothing to anyone! (Or shitty Jack, for that matter.) When Rose walks to the side of the Brock ship at the end of the film, she’s carrying a life well lived — and a romance that never died. Releasing the necklace disconnects her from reality, and she is able to delve into her memories of the Titanic, an ill-fated ship, and Jack, an unforgettable dreamboat. Who would want someone around for that? Remembering your dead lover is the definition of “me time”.

Closing Arguments: Jury, Consider Titanics

The Heart of the Ocean necklace sinks to the bottom of the ocean, with the camera pointing upwards to see the Titanic dive boat lights above

Image: Paramount Pictures

Tasha, the Titanic alternate ending case: I’ll just say this: just as the sinking of the Titanic isn’t just Rose and Jack’s story – it’s a tragedy for many people, and their suffering matters too – throwing a priceless diamond into the ocean as a dramatic gesture is more than just Rose’s moment. It’s worth considering the impact of what she does and showing that on screen.

Patches, the case of the original ending of Titanic: With the alternate ending, Cameron intended to put more Message on the final beat. The dialogue effect is basically him pointing his finger at the audience. Rose goes on and on about how she got to this stage in life without Cal, did it without indulging in the money she could have made from selling the necklace, and just before dropping the necklace, reminds Brock, “You look to the Treasure in the wrong place, Mr. Lovett – just life is priceless and makes every day worthwhile. Hey Rose, it’s called subtext!!


Did Titanic have the wrong ending?

  • 5%

    Yes, switch in the alternate ending!

    (36 votes)

  • 94%

    No, the original is the original for a reason!

    (602 votes)

638 votes total

vote now

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