Did Old Rose die at the end? (the authoritative answers)

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I know that the question has already been asked here, and been answered here, but here are a few answers from James Cameron and Gloria Stewart:

(James Cameron, from the Illustrated Screenplay):

"I get asked about the ending all the time. Is Rose dead or is she dreaming?

"You decide."

(from the Cosmic Fury Cameron retrospective)
Gloria Stewart mentioned that when the scene was shot in a studio in Halifax, she was asked by Cameron to hold her breath as long as possible, so in the logic of the film Old Rose does die. However, she said that in the logic of Beatrice Wood's life (basis for Old Rose), she gets back up in the morning and goes on with her life and art.

* * *

For me, both interpretations are correct, seem right. If you don't believe in souls, then she's just dreaming...if you do believe in souls, then she reaches the well of souls.

Perhaps Old Rose gets up, early in the morning, to search out some chocolate...

-- Thomas M. Terashima (tom@nucleus.com), February 13, 1999


If there was just one GREAT aspect to Cameron's screenplay, this ending sequence, starting from the necklace superimposed over the shot of old Rose sleeping, was it. I know for me, it elevated the movie from a right-side up version of The Poseidon Adventure to a film with some resonance well beyond the drive home from the theater. That first drive home was Dec. 21, 1997 and I'm still thinking about this damn movie!

First of all, I think we can all agree that Rose died that night on the Keldysh. If not, why bother with the modern-day framing of the story? It would be as lame and useless as the modern-day framing scenes in the otherwise great movie, Saving Private Ryan. The foreshadowing in Jack's pre-death lines ("Not here. Not THIS night....You're going to die an old woman, warm in her bed.") is obvious. Think how unsatisfying the movie would have been if the last shot were of Rose throwing the necklace back - then fade to the credits... or if Cameron had added a scene of Rose awaking the next morning and flying off in the helicopter. So, I think, Ms. Stewart misses the point when she mentions that she was asked to hold her breath in her final scene. But at least it proves that Cameron intended her to appear dead at that point.

By adding the "dream" sequence at the end, Cameron did create some ambiguity though. Is the Titanic reunion scene Rose's final dream or her afterlife? My personal opinion (given the fade to white at the very end) is that it was Rose's final dream. In fact, I'm so sure of my opinion that I believe Cameron's coyness in dealing with this question is disingenuous. (haha) But I'm not going to try to debate it - as long as everyone agrees that Rose does not leave the Keldysh alive!

-- Dalton (foo@bar.com), February 14, 1999.

I don't think it should be a dream and I was in even more buckets of tears at the end because I thought....thats' it know...Rose is joining Jack in Heaven.....If it had been made obvious that it was a dream....I probably wouldn't have found it as sad at the end.

Anyway....if you think about it,the bit with the scanning across the photos'....it's showing the influence Jack had on her and what she achieved in her life.And,if the old Rose was dreaming.....why did Jack look so happy to see her and everyone clapped at the end beacuse she must....as the song suggests....."Every night in my dreams,I see you"

Its' a lovelier thought that Rose had lived her happy life and was now joining Jack for good....They ought to think of this if they're going to make a Titanic2 which I think is pointless and will ruin the 1st film....Sequels are never as good....don't do it to the most incredible film of all time.

{added paragraph breaks}

-- Jo Duggan (JoWDuggan@aol.com), February 14, 1999.

Rose died. She died and she went to Heaven where Jack was waiting for her. I have evidence to support my theroy too...it's just too long to type. I'll get around to it though.

-- Laura (Roxygirli@alloymail.com), February 15, 1999.

OK, here I go again...

The reason why I believe Rose dies in that final dream is backed up by one little detail: during her life, everytime she is with Jack, he holds her in his right hand, he even grabs her with his right hand. So it makes sense that in a dream Jack would extend the same hand. However, the final scene has Jack extending his LEFT hand, as never before in the movie. For me, this is the clue for suggesting that Rose dies, having fulfilled all her promises. As I said before, she lets Titanic go, while Brock Lovett finaly lets the Titanic story in. It's all symmetry and her death makes sense. Though I like the ambiguity of the final scene. As Cameron said, "you decide." This way, nobody is disappointed, whether one is a believer in the Supreme Being (God) or atheist. It's a movie for hearts, and a true heart cannot discriminate...

-- Dan Draghici (ddraghic@sprint.ca), February 15, 1999.

Yes, Rose Dewitt Buckater DID die. And, NO, the ending was NOT her final dream, just her afterlife. There are many points proving that James Cameron intended Rose dying. First of all, before the camera takes you under water to Titanic, you can easily tell that Rose is not breathing. Then, as she enters the Titanic, you can also easily tell that all the people in the room greeting Rose, DIED on Titanic. Also, it was heard that J. Cameron told Gloria Stuart(Old Rose) to hold her breath while the cameras showed her face, proving his intent was her to be dead. Anyhoo, think what you want, but Rose did die, and it was not her "final dream" and the ending sequence.

-- Patrick E. Arsenault (harvey_mazz@hotmail.com), April 17, 2002.

Just a small point to disagree with Patrick - you cannot 'clearly tell that everyone in the room died on titanic', because Rose's mother, Cal and several others survived, but are still present in the room. I think it seems a bit strange that Cal would be happy for Rose and Jack, and personally, I think Rose is dreaming, and dies in her bed, but it can be argued either way. This is going a bit deep spiritually, but I think it would be strange for Rose to be in heaven with Jack (whom she spent days with) and not with her husband and father of her children whom she had spent the rest of her life with . . .

-- John Pearson (JohnP@hotmail.com), April 20, 2003.

Whether she spent days or years with Jack was not the point. He was her true love. She may have loved her husband, but Jack was her soul mate. It's all very Cathy and Heathcliff. Perhaps Rose's husband was a soul mate with another, or maybe his idea of Heaven is different. I think Heaven is the purest form of who we are. Cal and Rose's nightmare Mother survived the sinking, but died later so they would have been passed on by her death, hence they could be in the final scene. I don't remember seeing those two in particular but whatever. Rose dies, that's why the camera goes over her pictures, why she drops the necklace in the ocean(and the shot where she looks out at the night right after she drops it)why at the end the final shot is white light. She dies an old woman warm in her bed-back at Titanic.

-- Debra Whitney (beanykitty@yahoo.com), April 23, 2003.

Whilst some of John's facts are a bit off - I'm pretty sure Cal & Rose's mother weren't in the room, I do agree that it seems odd that she would spend her afterlife with Jack. Maybe that's looking at it in too much of a spiritual/religous way, but as far as I'm concerned, James Cameron has answered this question - it is up to the viewer whether she is in heaven or not.

-- Harvey (HarveyG@yahoo.com), April 26, 2003.

Well i think that end the end rose does die and maybe when she goes back to titanic maybe just maybe in that worl or rest of her dream she has no knowlage of this world yet and the titanic makes it to new york on tuesday night and suprises them all and they go to cali and rice horses in the surf and drink cheep beer and ride the rollercoaster untill they throw up. AAnd they live hapily ever after.

-- Michael Steele (Azsteels4@aol.com), November 11, 2003.

Rose is dreaming, and she didn't die. Throughout the movie, Rose is shown to be extremely tough - a survivor. It makes absolutely no sense that she would die without any obvious health problems shown beforehand. Besides, the song "My Heart Will Go On," which plays immediately after the final scene with Rose and Jack, starts off with "Every night in my DREAMS, I see you, I feel you."

-- Darcy Kishida (speed3@hawaii.rr.com), December 30, 2003.

I am going to agree with Darcy and say that in the end, Rose is just dreaming. If she died, it would be far too sad. It's one of the saddest movies of all time anyway, why make it even more? I think the sequence where Rose is reunited with Jack is just a dream because, if she really did die and went with Jack, what about when her children die? Then in the so-called "afterlife", they wouldn't have their mother. It just complicates things too much if she dies in the end. Yep, Rose is just dreaming. If you disagree, that's fine for you, but I will keep thinking she lived. :)

-- Angelina (aswitzer8@hotmail.com), January 16, 2004.

I agree with most every once else that Rose died. She lived her life to the fullest and died an old lady warm in her bed. I think she did dream every night about him, but I think her dreams came ture and she was finally at peace with Jack.

-- Morgan (morganlgee@Yahoo.com), January 23, 2004.

i have always wonderd what happend on the titanic . but now im wondering is there any1 alive still today.

please email me your question.


-- stephen kenneth foster (stephen_the_star@hotmail.com), March 12, 2004.

she dies jack showed her life.she kept her promises he told her to get married and have children she did!just because she married. her one and only true love was jack.She loved her kids she loved her husband.He wes her first true love.I never told your grandfather . she wants to be with him.her soul loved her husband kids and jack I think her husband and kids would rather have her happy and be with her love.she said she wanted to get of the ship with him......

-- kelly (kellly60560@aol.com), April 26, 2004.

this is in response to Darcy's comment. Though Im not going to debate weither she died or not I would like to say that at 100 years old death is pretty much around the corner. People who die of old age often aren't sick. There bodies start to shut down and they die.

-- Greg (spam@tearsofangels.net), July 14, 2004.

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