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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why did this #MeToo ending to the Titanic get sunk?

Even those few who never saw Titanic, 1997, knows it was about its sinking, but they may not be familiar with the love triangle that provided the human interest angle. That was composed of Cal Hockley, a rich aristocrat played by Billy Zane, Rose Dewitt Bukater, the daughter of a newly bankrupted aristocratic mother played by Kate Winslet, and Jack Dawson, the poor working class hero, played by Leonardo diCaprio. As the ill-fated voyage is coming to its end, we find Cal telling Rose that he intends to force sex on her that night. Then, when those plans are interrupted by the sinking, he ends up stealing a gun, and chasing Rose and Jack through the sinking Titanic while shooting at them.

There is a final meeting between Rose and Cal on the Carpathia that was in the screenplay written by James Cameron that is missing from the award winning movie. In The Titanic, Cal searches the rescue ship Carpathia for Rose. One of the reasons he is looking for her is that he realized that a very valuable diamond, the Heart of the Ocean, was in the coat he had put on her earlier. Rose is there, but he never finds her. That is the case even in this extended version of the Carpathia scene that shows many cut sections:

However, in Cameron's screenplay they do meet on the Carpathia and there is this final dramatic dialog between them:
You won't find any of your people back here, sir. It's all steerage.
Cal ignores him and goes amongst this wrecked group, looking under shawls and blankets at one bleak face after another.

Rose is sipping hot tea. Her eyes focus on him as he approaches her. He barely recognizes her. She looks like a refugee, her matted hair hanging in her eyes.

Yes, I lived. How awkward for you.

Rose... your mother and I have been looking for you--

She holds up her hand, stopping him.

Please don't. Don't talk. Just listen. We will make a deal, since that is something you understand. From this moment you do not exist for me, nor I for you. You shall not see me again. And you will not attempt to find me. In return I will keep my silence. Your actions last night need never come to light, and you will get to keep the honor you have carefully purchased.

She fixes him with a glare as cold and hard as the ice which changed their lives.

Is this in any way unclear?

(after a long beat)
What do I tell your mother?

Tell her that her daughter died with the Titanic.
She stands, turning to the rail. Dismissing him. We see Cal stricken with emotion.

You're precious to me, Rose.

Jewels are precious. Goodbye, Mr. Hockley.

That was the last time I ever saw him. He married, of course, and inherited his millions. The crash of 28 hit his interests hard, and he put a pistol in his mouth that year.

[I have made bold the cut sections]
While Rose doesn't make clear what shameful "actions last night" she is referring too, it's easy to imagine rape or attempted rape. In any case, clearly Rose had escaped, not only from the sinking Titanic, but also a much slower drowning in an abusive marriage. I know Titanic is still very long, and probably many good scenes had to be cut, but I think it's a real shame that this final reckoning between Rose and Cal was cut, especially in the light of the new consciousness about sexual abuse and the appropriate response brought about by the #MeToo movement. Titanic was already a good movie, this cut scene would have made it better.

By Clay Claiborne

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