Friday, September 7, 2012

Rose died in "Titanic" -- Whisper Storytelling

James Cameron has always been one for tragedy. I mean Avatar? TITANIC?! He loves his tragedy. That's why I got a tingly when I heard this from Jack:

I don't own this picture. Obviously.
"You’re going to get out of’re going to go on and you’re going to make babies and watch them grow and you’re going to die an old lady, warm in your bed. Not here...Not this night. Do you understand me?"

And then, I saw this scene in the closing credits:

(Go to 0:00 on that video above. You'll see what I mean.)

Now, read Jack's quote below again.

 "’re going to die an old lady, warm in your bed."
Did your jaw drop yet? Mine did.

I Googled a bit and realized that there were a lot of people who already thought of this and I might have been the one left out. (Did you guys know?) Also, according to the ever-reliable Wiki Answers, James Cameron left Rose's death up to the viewer's decision.

 This is BRILLIANT storytelling.

JK Rowling did this with Dumbledore's sexuality -- the whisper of an idea is present in the material, and conclusions can be made FROM them, but never be truly conclusive. Much like: who killed Ariana Dumbledore? Or what happened to Holden Caulfield's sister? These things would be awesome to know, but knowing them does not change the literal story.

Don't be afraid to leave things up to the readers! It creates much more interest, but do this with caution. Don't make the last sentence of a stand-alone book be a bullet coming towards the protagonist (unless you are going for something literary). This bullet "leave it up to the reader" is not a whisper of uncertainty. That's plain dumb -- it breaks the author-reader contract.

The character arcs should be fulfilled; if it is, and if your book is more literary, then you can have the last part be the bullet. The story should feel complete though, so it's tough. If the story arc and (more importantly) the character arc is fulfilled, use all the whispers you want :) (With restraint. Maybe. I don't know. Just have fun :) )

This is why I think Rose did die. It is a bittersweet addition (totally Cameron's style) and it completes Rose's character/story arc. Jack taught her how to enjoy life; now, she's lived wonderfully, and it's time to call it a day.
Titanic is my epitome of tragedy. (Maybe tied with A Tale of Two Cities. More on this in a later post.)

Do you enjoy whisper storytelling? Do YOU think Rose died?


  1. I think she died. and Titanic is my most favorite movie. Ever. I love the Titanic in general and have always been infatuated with every story, every book, every movie, every museum. Yes. It's the epitome of tragedy.
    I can't wait to buy it on BlueRay!

  2. I was so young when I saw this movie and no one ever questioned me on it, so I never doubted she died! It never even occurred to me at the time you could interpret it any other way. But, looking back on it now, I can see the ambiguity. I think that makes the moment even cooler. :D

  3. Yeah, I never caught that little hint in Jack's speech, but after seeing the movie a couple of times and being a music geek, the minor chord when they show her asleep signified for me that she died. Like in X-Men when the music builds up all triumphantly when Wolverine puts his hand on Rogue's forehead to save her, and nothing happens, so the music dies down into a minor chord. lol