It goes without saying just what a monumental success James Cameron’s 1997 epic Titanic was. It fused romance, drama and action into one cohesive whole that film fans gobbled up. And Titanic is still talked about more than two decades after its initial release, not least because of its immense scope and imaginative storytelling. However, footage has since emerged online of a deleted scene cut from the three-hour blockbuster. And while some movie outtakes are inconsequential, the same perhaps can’t be said of this poignant moment.
On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic started out from the docks of Southampton, setting sail towards New York City. Sadly, though, the ship’s lavish decor and stunning build counted for nothing in the end, as she tragically struck an iceberg just four days after setting off on her journey. More than 1,500 people met their end after the boat sank into the icy depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
Almost a century on, that harrowing tale would pique the interest of filmmaker James Cameron, who went on to create his own dramatization of the horrific events that took place. Titanic got its theatrical release in 1997, changing the movie industry forever in the process.
With a whopping $200 million budget – making it the most expensive movie ever made at the time – the movie boasted stunning special effects, eye-catching set designs and unparalleled cinematography. Cameron even had a reconstruction of the original ship made in order to capture its real-life qualities.
However, what really set Titanic apart was the fictionalized love story between Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet, and Jack Dawson, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. With its blurring between reality and fiction, Titanic had audiences’ pulses racing, hearts beating and adrenaline pumping.
And given Titanic’s immense success, it’s perhaps no surprise that Cameron still likes to talk about the movie occasionally. He’s addressed concerns about that controversial ending, for example. Indeed, some cinemagoers still bemoan the finale due to the fact that Rose doesn’t make room on the door for Jack – a decision that ultimately leads to his death.
Speaking about the discrepancy, Cameron told Vanity Fair in November 2017, “[The] answer is very simple… it says on page 147 (of the script) that Jack dies. Very simple… Obviously it was an artistic choice; the thing was just big enough to hold her and not big enough to hold him.”
The director went on, “I think it’s all kind of silly, really, that we’re having this discussion 20 years later. But it does show that the film was effective in making Jack so endearing to the audience that it hurts them to see him die.”
Cameron has also spoken about how making the movie helped unveil some buried facts about the real Titanic. In particular, in the 2017 National Geographic documentary entitled Titanic: 20 Years Later with James Cameron, he divulged how building the staircase from the actual plans solved a long-standing mystery about the famous ship.
When the wrecked vessel was located, many scratched their heads over where the staircase had gone. However, just as the replica build had floated out of the ship, so too had the real staircase. Cameron recalled in the documentary, “It was an interesting ‘art imitating life’ [situation] where if we hadn’t made the movie, we wouldn’t have come to that answer, I don’t think.”
In November 2017, though, an uncovered deleted scene from the Titanic movie finally emerged. And while some fans of the film were naturally overjoyed when the outtake surfaced online, they were however left with one burning question: why wasn’t the clip included in the first place?
The scene in question sees a cold and disheveled Rose being brought aboard the RMS Carpathia after her harrowing time spent floating in the water. It’s an extended version of a moment at the movie’s climax, but it’s much more revealing in many ways.
The deleted footage also shows the unscrupulous antagonist Joseph Bruce Ismay with a look of guilt painted on his face. Ismay – who was one of the higher-ranking officials in the company that owned the ship – was mostly depicted in the film as a coward who abandoned the passengers on the ship to save himself.
And the horrified look on Ismay’s face says it all, especially amid the sea of survivors who were brought aboard. Meanwhile, the rescued passengers appear despairing; perhaps they’re trying to deal with the fate that has just befallen them.
The heartbreaking scene is made even more poignant, though, when we see the face of the adopted daughter of Caledon Nathan Hockley among the crowd. Formerly Rose’s partner, Cal proved to be selfish in the end by using the child to get himself onto a lifeboat. Predictably, he’s not with her on the Carpathia.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, and this gut-wrenching sequence of events does just that. The portrayals of Rose’s sadness, Ismay’s regret and the survivors’ worry all add up to make a tear-jerking scene that will linger in your mind long after you’ve seen it.
And given the emotional weightiness to the scene, it’s perhaps surprising that it wasn’t included in the final edit. Maybe it was due to time constraints; after all, Titanic’s final cut comes in at a three hours and 15 minutes already.
Fans, however, were left with the sinking feeling of missed opportunity. Some YouTube users certainly questioned the omission, with one stating, “If there is one deleted scene I could have picked to have in the movie, it would be this one out of all the others.” Another wrote, meanwhile, “This scene makes me wanna cry.”
Even without the cut scene, though, the romance/disaster movie was a monumental hit. It became the first motion picture to rake in more than one billion dollars upon release, for instance. Notably, it also scooped up 11 Academy Awards, including those for Best Picture and Best Director.
And while speaking about the movie’s re-release in Dolby Vision HDR to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Cameron told Vanity Fair in November 2017, “Seeing a film that everybody knows, but seeing it in HDR in 3D with proper light levels on a Dolby Vision laser projector – it’s really a glimpse of the future.” Indeed, Titanic’s legacy ensures that there will always be a place for it on the big screen – with or without that deleted scene.