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I Finally Understand One Aspect of ‘Titanic’ I Didn’t Get When I Was Younger

leonardo dicaprio, kate winslet

Titanic has become a movie that defined a generation of fans. The love of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) has changed the lives of so many throughout the years, myself included. Watching the movie during its current, 25th anniversary rerelease in theaters was a surprising delight. It wasn’t my first time seeing it in theaters, but the first time, I was much too young, despite that my parents were willing to take me and also that I wanted to sit in a theater for over three hours.

My point is: I love Titanic and I have for the majority of my life, but what I have learned about this movie through watching it at different stages of my life is that the movie grows with you, and there is always something new to learn throughout it. And that happened with me seeing it in 3D.

What I realized is that Jack Dawson knew that he was going to die, wanted to spend his last moments with Rose instead of looking for something to stay afloat on, and lived his life to the fullest and wanted Rose to promise to do so as well. It was emotional to have that realization after all these years, but that’s the beauty of Titanic to me.

The Frances Ha appeal

There are many in this world who watch Frances Ha and note that the movie changes with age. That’s how I feel about Titanic. I saw the movie in theaters when I was six years old—went with my parents, came out obsessed with the score, and brought it to school for nap time and listened to it every day. It was one of the first scores I learned on the piano.

When I was a teenager and I was in my Leonardo DiCaprio phase because of The Departed, I rewatched the movie and sobbed over the doomed love story of Jack and Rose. But it was watching the movie as an adult that really showed me the importance of Jack Dawson and how he gave Rose the life she never had before. He gave her that freedom.

I’ll never let go, Jack

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack and Kate Winslet as Rose in the Titanic door scene.
(Paramount Pictures)

There are a lot of things about Titanic that make it, easily, James Cameron’s best work. But it is also, in my opinion, the perfect example of a feminist romance and a gift to the idea of the “women in refrigerators” of it all—mainly in that, for once, a man died to give a female character growth. Now, that doesn’t always have to be the answer, but it is refreshing to see it happen in a romance. So often, the woman is doing the heavy lifting of the relationship, and for the most part, Jack is the reason that Rose gets to have a life.

It’s romantic, doomed from the start, and is Leonardo DiCaprio at his best when he’s charming and sweet and just trying to live life to the fullest. Rose’s promise to Jack at the end of the movie (that has gotten lost in the culture fight over the water scene) was that she’d never let go of that life that Jack wanted her to have. He made her promise she’d go on to embrace the world, and she does just that.

She never let go of what Jack taught her, and that’s really the importance of their love story in the end. And it’s something that I learned upon watching it as an adult. As a child, I just saw a big boat sinking. As a teen, I loved their love and thought it was depressing and sad to see it lost. But as an adult, I understood what Jack was giving to Rose, and it’s poetic.

The best of the best

Whenever someone talks about James Cameron at his best? It’s this. This is the James Cameron I love, and I wish we had more of this energy from Leo, as well. Kate Winslet? You’re always perfect. I love you. But this movie is just so good? I have seen it three times throughout my life and every time I watch it, I know exactly what is coming next, but still am watching on the edge of my seat. Because it’s just that GOOD.

Watching Titanic again in theaters was well worth it, and I think revisiting the movie is going to become part of a more frequent tradition.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.