In 1996, Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and his team of “Treasure Hunters/Grave Robbers” come to the shipwreck of the R.M.S. Titanic, searching for the priceless diamond known as “The Heart of the Ocean”. Lovett and his team send a robot submersible into the wreck. The robot goes into a tattered bedroom. Lewis Bodine (Lewis Abernathy), a co-worker and friend of Lovett, uses the mechanical arms of the sub to move over furniture to find a safe, containing their prize.
They come back onto the surface to a boat where the rest of the crew is celebrating the find of the safe. Brock feels around inside the safe for what he is looking for. He finds paper and a sketchbook, nothing else. Back inside of the boat, Lovett’s team is analyzing the papers that were found inside the sketchbook. One in particular is a nude portrait of a woman lying on a couch wearing a necklace. Brock realizes that the necklace is the Heart of the Ocean. He checks the date, April 14, 1912 (signed J.D.), the day of the Titanic’s sinking. He realizes whoever the woman in the picture is must know where the diamond is, but unfortunately has no idea who she is or whether or not she’s dead or alive.
Meanwhile, in her quiet home, Rose Calvert (Gloria Stuart) is making pottery as her granddaughter Lizzie (Suzy Amis) casually goes about the house, feeding the dogs. The T.V. is heard in the background. It is on the news station and what catches Rose’s attention at first is a line said by someone mentioning the Titanic. It shows Brock Lovett as he discusses what he is doing. Rose gets up and listens in. Brock speaks of the care his experts on the ship are taking with what they found in the wreck. They show the picture of the woman and Rose stares in amazement, nearly speechless. Back on the ship, Lovett is helping to launch the submarine into the water once again when he is interrupted by his comrade, Bobby Buell (Nicholas Cascone). Bobby claims that there is a call waiting for him that he will want to take. Brock reluctantly gets on the phone and speaks to the elderly Rose. The first thing Rose has to say is “I was just wondering if you had found The Heart of the Ocean yet, Mr. Lovett?” and he is hooked instantly. He asks whether or not Rose knows who the woman in the picture is and Rose certainly does; she tells him it is her.
The next thing seen is Rose and Lizzie being shipped by a helicopter over to Lovett’s boat. Onboard, Brock is being briefed by Lewis on Rose’s background. He believes Rose is nothing but a fake, seeking publicity. He describes how the woman Rose claims to be, Rose Dewitt Bukater, died on the Titanic when she was 17, according to records. He has done a background check on the old woman all the way back to the 1920’s when she had worked as an actress. Back then her name had been Rose Dawson, not Dewitt Bukater. She later married a man named Calvert and they moved to Cedar Rapids, where they had kids. Still, Brock believes Rose may be who she says. Rose and Lizzie are then seen exiting the helicopter with their luggage. Rose and Lizzie get set up in their quarters, arranging Rose’s pictures beside the bed. Brock asks Rose if she needs anything and her only desire is to see her drawing. Rose goes into the room where everything recovered from the wreck is and sees the portrait in a tank of clear water and closes her eyes, remembering the day it was sketched. We see the hands of a youthful man sketching the drawing for the first time. We then see his blue eyes look up, wisps of blonde hair in his vision… Rose opens her eyes and comes back to reality.
Lovett goes on explaining the origin of the diamond to Rose, describing its color and the famous rulers who wore it. Rose says it was dreadful and heavy. Brock has tracked down the insurance records. He said a man named Caledon Hockley bought this for his fiancé, Rose Dewitt Bukater–her. He believes the diamond went down with the ship. Lovett then shows Rose some of the things recovered from what had once been her stateroom on the Titanic. She sees a silver mirror and a hair clip with a dragonfly on it that she eyes particularly. Brock asks if she’s ready to go back to the Titanic. Lewis is showing Rose a computer simulation of the Titanic‘s sinking, describing it as something you would want to be on very badly. Rose remembers the experience as more horrific and Lovett asks if she’ll share the experience with them.
Rose stands and sees pictures of two double doors from the wreck, it’s ornate wrought-iron window design still intact. She suddenly remembers a time when two men stood there, happy to greet her inside. She begins crying a bit and, thinking she is traumatized by these images, Lizzie suggests that she rest for a while. Rose refuses, and says its been eighty-four long years…but remembers the new ship so well. She begins telling her story, and the narrative shifts:
On April 10, 1912, we see the Titanic docked at Southampton, England, roughly ten minutes before its maiden voyage. The world is lively and amazed at the sight of the huge ship. A carriage man opens a door of one car and helps out a woman: seventeen year old Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet). Rose remarks on how she doesn’t think its size is much bigger than the Mauratania and is not as impressed by it as much as her fiancé, Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane). Cal tells Rose that the Titanic is far too amazing to insult and tells Rose’s mother, Ruth Dewitt Bukater (Frances Fisher), that Rose is much too hard to impress. Cal then goes on to explain how God himself could not sink the ship when Ruth states how the ship has been proclaimed unsinkable (which we already know it will turn out to be anything but). Cal then puts his manservant, Spicer Lovejoy (David Warner) in charge of his possessions as he, Ruth, and Rose on-board the Titanic. The older Rose is heard saying it was the “Ship of Dreams” to everyone else, but she desperately didn’t want to board and go back to America. She was a well brought up girl on the outside, but was screaming inside.
Inside a nearby bar at the docks, a group of four young men are playing poker. Two of them argue for a moment in different languages. Opposite them are an Italian with a strong accent, Fabrizio de Rozzi (Danny Nucci), and his American friend, Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). The two of them are apparently dirt poor. One of the opposite men named Olaf (Bjorn Olsen) yells at his companion, Sven (Dan Pettersson) for betting their third class tickets for the Titanic. Jack states how somebody’s life’s about to change as they each reveal their cards. Jack has a full house, winning. He and Fabrizio dance around with the tickets, then Jack piles the money and the tickets into a bag. Olaf grabs Jack by the collar and is about to punch him, but instead hits Sven for betting the tickets. Jack begins laughing merrily. They are exhilarated by the fact that they are going to America, but then the bartender tells them that they aren’t going to America–the ship will leave without them in five minutes. Jack and Fabrizio then rush to the ship. They join the other Titanic passengers who are waving goodbye from the stern even though they know noone there. The ship’s propellers start up as the ship sails off guided by the tugboats. Rose is in her stateroom, marveling at some paintings she purchased as she prepares to put them on the wall. Cal does not like them. Their maid, Trudy Bolt (Amy Gaipa) asks who the artist is, and Rose responds, “something Picasso.” Cal thinks the paintings are worthless.
When the ship stops in Cherbourg, France, Margaret “Molly” Brown (Kathy Bates) boards. Her wealth comes from her husband finding gold and Ruth calls her “new money.” After stopping in Ireland the next day, the ship plows west surrounded by the open ocean. Captain Smith (Bernard Hill) tells First Officer William Murdoch (Ewan Stewart) to “take her to sea.” The stokers in the engine room, covered in soot and sweat, shovel the coal into the massive boilers. Jack and Fabrizio go to the very bow of the ship and look down at the water as the ship plows ahead. The two spot dolphins jumping out of the water merrily as the ship’s workers work away down below to keep the ship going. Smith is happy, the crew is happy, and everything is going normally. Jack stands up on the bars of the bow at shouts the famous line “I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD!” He howls to the wind and puts his head back, closes his eyes, and spreads his arms out for balance. The ship is then viewed on a grand scale. From the bow to the hull to the stern it is seen, its incredibly huge size obvious. It seems incredible that man could have given birth to such a creation.
Rose is next seen sitting at lunch with her mother, Cal, and Molly along with Thomas Andrews (Victor Garber), the architect of the ship, and Bruce Ismay (Jonathan Hyde), one of the men who created of the Titanic. Ismay and Andrews discuss the ship’s design and how resistant she is to sinking. Rose looks bored and frustrated. Molly asks, “Who thought of the name ‘Titanic’?” Ismay says that he did, and he elaborates on how he wanted the name to convey size (explaining the choice of the name for the Olympic, the Titanic’s smaller sister ship). Rose patronizingly asks Ismay if he knows of Dr. Freud, because his ideas on the male preoccupation with size might be of a particular interest to him. Most of them chuckle, but Ruth ridicules her.
Back on the aft stern deck, Jack is sitting down next to Fabrizio. Jack looks at a rather old man with a very young girl about six years old. Jack sketches them in a thin, long, brown sketch pad. He has exceptional artistic skills. Next to him, Fabrizio and a young Irish man are talking about who built the ship. The Irishman introduces himself to Jack and Fabrizio as Tommy Ryan (Jason Barry). Jack’s attention is suddenly directed toward Rose, who has stepped out of the first class cafe and is looking out at the water. Tommy tells him to forget her. Jack just continues to stare. Suddenly, Rose glances down at Jack, but then away. Then she does it again, but leaves after Cal steps outside to retrieve her. That night, Rose is at dinner with the entire first class passengers. Everyone is chatty and lively but Rose looks very sad and dazed, ignoring everyone. Rose looks down in a trance-like state as everyone else ignores her sadness.
After dinner, Rose, feeling trapped, runs very fast along the promenade deck of the ship. She runs as fast as she can to the stern of the ship, not even noticing the only person there, Jack, who is lying on a bench, smoking and looking up at the stars. At the back railing, she pauses and looks over at the stern, where the ship’s name appears. Rose climbs over the railing and, perched on the outside of the railing, appears ready to jump. As she looks down, Jack approaches her. He tells her not to jump, but Rose tells him to stay back and she’ll let go if he comes closer. Jack says he can’t leave because he is now involved and if she jumps, he has to go in after her and he begins taking off his jacket. Rose tells him that’s ridiculous and that the fall alone would kill him. Jack says he knows it would hurt, but he is much more concerned about the temperature of the water as he removes his shoes. Rose reluctantly asks how cold it is and he said probably just over freezing. He asks if she’s ever been to Wisconsin, and Rose is genuinely surprised at the casual conversation. Jack goes on to say that he grew up there and once fell through some thin ice. The water was so cold he couldn’t breathe or think about anything but the pain. Rose is a little haunted by the story, and Jack says that’s exactly why isn’t looking forward to jumping in there after her. He tells her he hopes she will climb back over so that he’ll be let off the hook. He tells her to give him her hand again, and she does. She turns and faces him and Jack breathes a sigh of relief. They introduce themselves to each other.
Jack begins to help her over. As she begins to climb over, she slips and falls. Only Jack’s firm grip on her wrist keeps her from falling into the ocean. She screams as Jack struggles to pull her up. She continues to cry for help and a couple of crewmen hear her and come running. She pulls herself up, and at last she is back up on the railing and Jack has his arms around her tightly, coaxing her that he has her and he falls back on top of her as he returns her safely to the ship. The crewmen arrive suddenly, and seeing Rose in shock with her dress torn halfway to her thigh and Jack on top of her gives them the impression that he has tried to make an advance or worse.
Jack is arrested. Cal walks over to him and begins yelling at him, but Rose then tells Cal it was an accident. She makes up a story that she was leaning over to see the propellers and slipped. The master-at-arms asks Jack if that is true and he says yes after Rose gives him a pleading look. One of the men who was with them calls Jack a hero and then Cal asks Jack to join them for dinner tomorrow night, to which Jack agrees.
As Cal, Rose and the other men start to leave, Jack asks Lovejoy for some cigarettes. They are alone when Lovejoy marks how interesting it is that Rose slipped so suddenly but he still had a chance to take his jacket and shoes off. Rose is alone in her cabin when Cal walks in. He tells Rose he has noticed her melancholy behavior. He comes in and has a present for her and opens a small case with a huge, heart-shaped blue-diamond on a chain. Rose is amazed, and Cal has her try it on. He tells her it was worn by Louis XVI and that they called it “The Heart of the Ocean.” Cal tells Rose that she is royalty and there is nothing he would deny her if she would not deny him and asks her to open her heart to him. Rose stares in her mirror, touching the diamond, with a haunted look on her face.
In the next scene, Jack and Rose are seen walking together on the boat deck. Jack is talking about how he grew up. He then asks Rose what the real reason is that she came to see him. She has come to thank Jack for saving her. Jack asks why she wanted to kill herself. Rose says it was everything; the people and how helpless she was. She shows Jack her huge engagement ring. Rose talks about how all of Philadelphia’s society will be at her wedding but she feels like she’s so lost and nobody even notices it. Jack asks Rose if she loves Cal. Rose thinks that is a very rude question and refuses to answer, even though Jack is persistent about. Eventually, Rose becomes completely bewildered that Jack is asking this and prepares to storm off. She shakes Jack’s hand and insults him more, saying he deserved it. They still are shaking hands and at last Rose starts to leave. Then Rose comes back and says that they are at her part of the ship and Jack should leave. Jack laughs and says she is now the one being rude. Rose, completely stumped on what to say next, sees Jack holding his sketchpad and seizes it as a way to spite him.
Jack doesn’t mind her taking it and watches her open it. She slowly, but still angrily, remarks on how good they are and then they sit down on two deck chairs. Jack tells Rose he used to live in Paris and she is surprised. She comes across some very graphic drawings of prostitutes in various poses. Jack shows a picture of an older woman wearing a lot of jewelry. Jack says she used to frequently go to a bar wearing every piece of jewelry she owned, just waiting for her long lost love. They had called her Madame Bijoux. Rose says Jack has a gift; he sees people. He says he sees Rose and knows that she wouldn’t have jumped.
Inside, Bruce Ismay is talking with Captain Smith. Bruce says he wants the last four boilers lit but the captain disagrees because they are making excellent time. Ismay disagrees, saying Titanic’s maiden voyage must make headlines. Smith does not want to push the engines, but reluctantly complies to Ismay’s demands.
Jack and Rose are talking on the promenade deck as the sun begins to set. Jack tells Rose about how his life has gone. He never seems to have any restraints that keep him in any one place. Rose wishes she could be like that and go wherever she wants. Jack says she can and that they will go together and drink beer, ride roller coasters, and ride horses on the beach right in the surf, but she has to ride with one leg on each side, like a man. He says he’ll show her how and Rose asks Jack to teach her to spit like a man, but Jack takes it seriously and begins leading her to a more quiet place where less people are. Rose is very nervous and tells Jack she can’t possibly do it, but Jack spits into the water to give Rose an example. Rose says it’s disgusting, but she tries it after Jack pressures her to. She spits as plainly as she can and Jack tells her that’s pitiful. Jack instructs her on how to do it better and he spits heartily into the water. Rose tries again and puts her head back a bit and spits into the water, this time much better.
He continues to instruct her and Rose listens intently, but then she sees her mother coming up behind them with her companions. Rose starts motioning for Jack to stop, but he has already been spotted trying to spit and so has Rose. Jack turns around and swallows the disgusting concoction in his mouth, caught completely red-handed with saliva still on his chin. Jack quickly wipes it off. Rose, embarrassed, starts to introduce Jack and explains how he saved her from slipping the night before. The other women are very impressed by Jack and how he saved Rose, but Ruth is seen eying Jack with disgust at his whole ensemble. As the dinner trumpet sounds, Ruth, Rose and the other women leave to dress, except for Molly Brown, who addresses Jack while he watches Rose leave. Molly asks if he has an idea what he’s doing. He clearly doesn’t, as he was planning on attending dinner wearing just his casual, unglamourous outfit. Molly then takes him to find something more elegant to wear.
Molly is in her cabin a dinner tuxedo on Jack’s shoulders. She is amazed at how close her son’s clothes fit Jack. Jack enters the grand staircase with his usually untamed hair slicked back very well. He walks down the stairs and looks around, not really knowing what to do and slumps against a wooden post, but then tries standing up straighter and more sophisticated as he watches other men walking by. Cal comes down the staircase with Ruth, but he hardly even glances at Jack because he doesn’t recognize him at all. Rose then is seen coming down and Jack does a double take on her. Jack stands at the bottom of the stairs as Rose comes closer to him. She takes Jack’s arm and shows him to Cal and her mother. Cal is very impressed, saying, “You could almost pass for a gentleman.” They then go down three decks to the dining room, where Rose begins telling Jack about some of the first class scandals. She points out a few notables such as John Jacob Astor (Eric Braeden) and his pregnant teenage wife, Madeleine (Charlotte Chatton), and the Countess of Rothes. They then go towards their table and Jack escorts Molly along with Rose.
The scene changes to them sitting at dinner, where Jack is charming the table with his witty and wise comments. Jack is getting instructions from Molly and Rose on the side on when to use the table settings at the right time. Ruth asks Jack where he lives and he explains he doesn’t dwell at one single place. Ruth asks how he has the means to travel, and he says he works from place to place, and got his ticket on the Titanic at a lucky hand at poker. One of the men with them states how ‘all life is a game of luck.’ Cal disagrees, saying a real man makes his own luck. Rose’s mother asks him if he finds that ruthless existence appealing. Molly is disgusted by that comment. Jack says he does and that all he needs is right there with him; air to breathe, blank sheets of paper, and he loves to awaken not knowing what will happen or who he’ll meet and glances at Rose, who is listening intently. He says “Lifes a gift, and I don’t intend on wasting it. You learn to take life as it comes at ya. To make each day count.” Everyone is very impressed and gladdened by Jacks word’s and Rose proposes a toast.
Towards the end of dinner, Jack is invited to have a few drinks in the smoking room with the men as the women stay at the table. He declines and Cal says it wouldn’t interest him, considering it’s about politics and business. After they leave, Jack secretly hands Rose a note that reads “Make it count. Meet me at the clock.” Rose nervously complies, watching Jack facing the grandfather clock at the top of the grand staircase. Rose walks up to him and Jack smiles and asks, “So, you wanna go to a real party?” It then goes to a scene of a third-class party. Irish music is being played and people are dancing around merrily. People are arm wrestling and falling over from being so drunk. Rose claps happily as she watches Jack, whose hair is now a mess again and has removed his jacket, dance on a platform with the little girl seen at the beginning of the film.
As the song ends, Jack tells the girl that he is now going to dance with Rose. Rose is very nervous to and doesn’t want to, but Jack pulls her up with him. They have to get close for the dance and Rose is quite unsure of what to do. Jack and Rose hold each other’s hands as Jack holds onto Rose’s waist with the other and Rose grips Jack on the back the whole time. They move around the platform very fast and Rose is laughing and screaming at the same time and Jack laughs at Rose’s reaction.
Jack then lets go of Rose and begins step dancing to the music. Rose watches and, inspired, throws her heels to someone in the crowd and dances beside Jack the same way. The two add unique steps to the dance, both turning and spinning as everyone watches. They then dance by linking arms and turning around and around. Jack and Rose watch as an arm wrestling match goes on between Tommy and another young man. Jack steals their beers and gives one to Rose. A man runs by and splashes the beer all over them. As Jack shouts after him, the wrestling match ends and as they start up again, Rose stops them. She asks if they are so tough why they cannot do this: Rose gradually begins standing on her very tiptoes as Jack holds up the hem of her gown. Tommy and the other man express how impressed they are and start clapping.
We see Lovejoy spying on Rose laughing in Jack’s arms from the entrance to the room. Jack and Rose clap as a couple of the people are running around the room together, holding hands. Fabrizio is on the end and offers Rose his hand as he passes. She grabs it and Jacks hand and they run around the room. Rose is laughing, having the time of her life.
The next morning, Rose is sitting down at breakfast with Cal. She is quiet and doesn’t seem to enjoy his company. Cal then reveals to Rose that he knows what she was doing below decks. Rose is angered that Cal had Lovejoy spying on her again. Cal tells her that she will never act like that again and Rose, gathering up her courage, says he has to stop commanding her because she is his fiancé. Cal gets extremely mad and flips over the table. He gets in Rose’s face and says that she has to respect him. Frightened, she agrees. Cal storms out.
Ruth forbids Rose to ever see Jack again and tells her that their family is broke and that her marrying Cal will ensure their survival. Rose knows that they are broke and are keeping it secret as long as they can. Rose wants to see Jack, but knows she cannot. Soon after, all of first class is attending Sunday Mass. Jack then tries to go in and see Rose. Lovejoy stops him and offers him money to back off, but he refuses, saying all he wants is a quick word with Rose. Lovejoy gives two doormen money to escort Jack back to third. It then cuts to a part where Rose, Ruth, Cal, Mr. Andrews, and Captain Smith are seen talking. A crewman comes over and hands Smith an iceberg warning. Smith tells them it is very normal and that he has even had the last four boilers lit. Jack is then seen sneaking onto the first class deck. He sees a man watching his child play with a toy top and steals his coat and hat as a disguise.
As she is strolling with her mother, Cal, and Thomas Andrews, Rose tells Andrews she doesn’t believe there are enough lifeboats for everyone onboard. Andrews tells her she is right and they are half short because the deck would look too cluttered. Cal says it’s enough of a waste of space already with the boats that are there. They continue walking, but Jack grabs Rose’s arm and she follows him into the empty gymnasium. Rose explains to Jack that she has to marry Cal and that she loves Cal. Jack goes on to tell her that she may be a spoiled brat, but underneath she is the most amazing women he’s ever met. He knows he has nothing to offer her, but he can’t turn away without knowing she’ll be all right, and that if she jumps, he jumps. Rose says she’s fine, but Jack disagrees, saying she is trapped and will die. Rose tells Jack she must go back and to leave her alone. Rose then is seen having tea with her mother and two other women. She sees a young girl about seven or so years of age, learning to have tea and cookies in a very sophisticated style. She becomes sad to see this, and cannot help to see that in herself. That is not the life she wants.
Jack is looking at the water solemnly on the very bow of the ship as the sun sets. Rose then comes up behind him, saying she changed her mind. He smiles as she begins to describe how she found him, but he shushes her. He tells her to give him her hand. Smiling, she does. Then, he instructs her to close her eyes. Still smiling, she follows suit. He helps Rose to stand up on the bars and he holds her so that she doesn’t fall. He asks if she trusts him, and she does. He puts her arms out to her sides and tells her to open her eyes. She gasps in amazement at the tranquil, breathtaking sight before her. The wind is blowing forward against her as the ship goes on and all she can see is the sea and the beautiful sunset. “I’m flying!” she exclaims to Jack. Jack has his arms on Rose’s waist as they stand there at the beautiful, romantic scene, the only ones at the ship’s bow. He brings her hands to her sides and looks at her. Rose turns to face him and then they share their first passionate kiss as they fly at the bow of the ship.
There is a temporary cut back to the present-day wreck. Old Rose says sadly that was the last time the Titanic ever saw daylight. Brock says how that had been six hours before the sinking, and Lewis is very angry that Smith has an iceberg warning, and yet goes even faster. Brock says that Smith believed he could’ve turned in time if he saw the berg, but he was wrong.
Back in 1912, Rose is laughing as she leads Jack into the sitting room. As she goes and unlocks the safe in the room, Jack eyes some of Rose’s paintings and is dazzled by them, much like Rose and unlike Cal. Rose then shows Jack the diamond. As he marvels at it, Rose says she wants Jack to draw her nude wearing only the diamond. He agrees.
It then shows Rose pulling a green dragonfly hair clip from her curly hair. Jack is in the room and is positioning the couch the right way and sharpening his charcoals. Rose then comes in wearing nothing but a kimono and the diamond. Jack smiles at her and she says she has to have a nice drawing, as she is a paying customer, and throws him a dime. She looks at him sternly and then lets the kimono fall to the ground. Jack watches her very nervously and tells her to lie down on the couch and instructs the right way to position herself. Jack takes a deep breath. He puts his charcoal to the parchment and begins making the portrait. Jack watches intently with his blue eyes, his hair falling in his face, and continues the artwork, becoming more and more shaped as time goes on. It then goes back to old Rose. She smiles, describing her feelings at the time as the whole crew is staring at her, grinning dreamily. Lewis asks what happens next and Rose goes on…Jack signs the paper, April 14, 1912, JD, explaining the signature on the painting when it is discovered in the opening. Rose is then seen with her kimono back on, writing a letter and tells Jack to put it in the safe. Rose then puts the necklace in there, too. It then goes to Lovejoy in the smoking room telling Cal nobody has seen Rose. Cal is angered, and orders him to find her.
At nightfall, one of the crewman comes beside Captain Smith and says how calm the water is. Smith, however, is feeling guilty, as he knows there may be icebergs lurking and yet the ship is going at full speed.
Jack is then seen looking out the window, shivering at the cold. Rose comes in after changing into a pink and white gown. Suddenly they hear a door open and dash silently out of the room. Jack has forgotten his drawings and sketchpad, but they continue on anyway. Lovejoy walks into the empty room and then hears a door close. Jack and Rose go outside the room and start to leave but then Lovejoy sees the two. Jack opens a door that leads to the boiler room and locks it. The two go down into the boiler room, where the leader of the stokers comes and yells at them for coming down, but they just take off again.
They at last stop in a cargo hold where things are being stored, including the car first seen being brought onto the ship at the beginning. Nobody is inside except for them. Jack helps Rose into the back of the car as he sits up front and honks the loud horn. With a British accent, he asks Rose, “Where to, miss?” She whispers, “to the stars.” Jack looks at her and Rose playfully grabs him by the back of his arms and drags him into the backseat with her. Jack wraps his arms around Rose and they look at each other. Jack asks Rose if she is nervous, and she says no. She kisses his fingertips as he watches her and then she looks back at him. Rose whispers, “Put your hands on me, Jack.” And then they begin kissing passionately again. It then shows two men watching out for icebergs in the crows nest, commenting on the freezing cold. It then shows Officer Murdoch talking with another officer about a missing pair of binoculars and he then watches sternly out to the sea. Then, it goes back to Jack and Rose in the car, where the windows are completely steamed up. Inside, Rose asks Jack if he is all right because of his trembling, and he says he’s fine.
The lead stoker in the boiler room is then seen showing two stewards where Jack and Rose went. As they begin to look, we return to Cal in the stateroom as he opens the safe. He looks quizzically at Jack’s sketchpad and opens it. There, he sees Rose’s naked portrait and a letter in Rose’s handwriting that reads: “Darling, now you can keep us both locked in your safe.” It indicates herself, as well as the diamond being locked away. Cal starts to tear the letter in fury, but then tells Lovejoy that he has a better idea. The stewards begin inspecting around the car. One of them notices Rose’s handprint and points to it for the other to see. They both quietly creep towards the car, then one of them opens the door, only to find that it is empty.
On the forward well deck below the bow, where both Murdoch and the men in the crow’s nest can see, Jack and Rose suddenly emerge from inside, hysterically laughing and holding hands. They spin around with each other and then stop. Rose’s smile and laughter fades as she puts a hand to his lips. She says to him that when the ship docks in New York, she will disembark with him. Jack says this is crazy. Rose laughs, saying, “I know, it doesn’t make any sense! Thats why I trust it.” They look at each other and begin kissing again.
Murdoch smiles at the two and the men in the crows nest watch with grins as well. They laugh and talk about them for a moment and then look back out to sea….where they see a huge looming iceberg. They phone the bridge as fast as they can and tell them about it. All the crew go on alert, shouting, “Iceberg ahead” and orders of “Hard a’ starboard!” which will turn the ship quickly to the left. Chief Engineer Joseph Bell and the other engineers and stokers in the engine rooms and the boiler rooms are in a frenzy, shouting orders, all hoping to veer away from the iceberg. The men in the crows nest watch with concern as they move ever closer and the ship still hasn’t moved. Murdoch desperately hopes for the ship to turn, but when it at last begins to, it is too late. The iceberg punctures the starboard side of the ship. Jack and Rose’s kiss is interrupted as they look around after feeling the ship begin to shudder violently.
People all over the ship are shown looking around in confusion, including Fabrizio, who has been awoken from sleep. Andrews looks up at the shaking chandelier in his quarters. The stewards looking for Jack and Rose in the cargo hold are suddenly thrown against the walls as water comes rushing in and are apparently drowned. People on deck watch in amazement as the iceberg moves by, dangerously close to the ship. Murdoch runs and pulls a valve that will shut the watertight doors throughout the ship. All the men in the boiler rooms rush to get out before they are all closed, as the rooms begin flooding very fast. Some make it, some do not as all the doors close. Captain Smith then comes to Murdoch to see what has happened and he explains everything. Smith runs to the side of the ship, and he asks for an officer to find the ship’s carpenter, who will determine how bad the damage is and to stop the ships engines.
People on the forward well deck play a game kicking pieces of ice along the deck. Fabrizio is then shown looking at the suddenly soaked floor as he begins to leave his cabin. Tommy then comes running up to him and they leave the deck to higher ground, followed by many other third-class passengers.
Jack and Rose begin to leave the side of the deck. They watch as a group of crewmen along with Andrews and Captain Smith chatting rapidly about the condition of the ship. The two realize the situation is severe and decide they have to tell Rose’s mother and Cal. Cal is back in the stateroom, where Rose’s mother is awake and the master-at-arms is because Cal claims he has been robbed. Lovejoy is out in the hallway and witnesses Jack and Rose solemnly returning, hand in hand. As they walk towards the room, Lovejoy slips the Heart of the Ocean into the pocket of the coat Jack stole earlier. Rose announces something serious is going on and Cal agrees as he orders Jack to be searched. The Heart of the Ocean is pulled out of his pocket. Jack and Rose both look in amazement and Jack yells at Rose not to believe he had stolen it. Rose doesn’t understand how it could’ve happened, since they were together the whole time. Cal suggests Jack did it while she was putting her clothes back on. Jack then realized that Lovejoy put it in his pocket, but Rose is still skeptical, and the fact that Jack’s jacket was stolen doesn’t help either. She does nothing as they take Jack away to have him locked up, all the while Jack yells at Rose to believe he is innocent.
Meanwhile on the bridge, Andrews is seen briefing the captain, the other crewmen, and Ismay on the damage to the ship. He describes that the ship cannot stay afloat with five compartments flooded and that the ship will go down first by the head until completely underwater. He announces that there is nothing they can do; Titanic will founder. Ismay is in shock, saying, “But this ship cannot sink!” Andrews disagrees, saying it is a mathematical certainty. Andrews estimates that the ship will go under in two hours, maybe 20 or 30 minutes more if extra pumps are rigged to keep the water out in the flooding forward compartments. There aren’t enough lifeboats for half the people and Smith realizes that Ismay will definitely get his headlines.
Back to Rose, who is alone with Cal and he slaps her across the face. A crewman comes in, telling them to both put their lifebelts on. In third class, everyone is being awakened by a crewman shouting to put on their life belts.
Captain Smith then is shown telling the two wireless operators to send out a morse code distress call that states “we are going down by the head and need immediate assistance”. Outside, Thomas Andrews has rushed on deck and sees all the crewmen getting the lifeboats ready for launch. He asks one man why the people aren’t outside and he says they were uncomfortable, as it was too cold and noisy. They clearly don’t realize the seriousness of the situation, and Andrews is even more disturbed when he goes into first class and hears the band merrily playing music and another man offers him a drink. Molly Brown is in the Grand Staircase wearing a lifebelt. She wonders what is going on, like everyone else. Ruth tells Trudy to ready a cup of tea for her supposed arrival back to her room. Rose and Cal are with her, Rose looking sadly downward all the while. She spies Thomas Andrews pass by and tells him she saw the iceberg and saw the look in his eyes and wants to know the truth. He informs her that the ship will sink and Cal overhears this, as well. Rose knows how short they are on lifeboats and is in a state of disbelief.
Below decks, Jack is handcuffed to a pole in the master-at-arms office and Lovejoy agrees to watch him, keeping a gun on him. Captain Smith is informed by Harold Bride (Craig Kelly), one of the Morse code operators, that the closest ship will arrive in four hours. 2nd Officer Lightoller (Jonathan Phillips) convinces Smith to order women and children into the lifeboats. Lightoller coaxes the passengers outside toward the boats, while the band sits outside to play.
In third class, Tommy and Fabrizio are trying to get up to a higher deck, but the doorway gate is locked by a crewman saying they cannot pass through. Tommy, knowing the only reason they won’t open the gate is because of their social status, goes to speak to the crewman. Outside, the first lifeboat is being lowered. The seamen are now sending up white distress rockets to catch the attention of nearby ships (which there are none around for miles), and Rose is shown looking up at them, along with everyone else. They fall into the sea beside the Titanic, whose bow is almost completely underwater.
Jack, far down below, is very uncomfortable being chained up. He notices that the porthole in the room is starting to sink below the waterline. Lovejoy notices this, as well, mentioning it mockingly to Jack. He loads his gun, puts it to Jack’s head, then punches Jack very hard in the stomach and takes his leave.
Rose is watching people being loaded into lifeboats, saying goodbye with tears to the men. Ruth then asks whether or not the lifeboats will be seated according to class, hoping they will not be too crowded. Cal smiles but Rose looks at her in disbelief, at last saying, “Oh, Mother, SHUT UP!” She tells her that half the people on the ship are going to die. She looks around, mortified by the situation, then Cal mutters, “Not the better half.” He goes on to say how he should’ve kept her drawing because by morning it will be worth much more. Molly and Ruth then try to help Rose into the boat, but she bids them goodbye, ignoring her mother’s screams for her as the lifeboat is lowered. Cal then tries to stop her, realizing she is going to find Jack and she tells him that she’d rather be Jack’s whore than his wife. He still tries to stop her, but she spits in his face, the way Jack taught her to. Rose then finds Andrews again, asking him where the master-at-arms would have sent Jack. He gives her directions. Meanwhile, Jack’s situation becomes more critical as the room and hallway starts to flood. He tries to call for help or pull himself free, but it doesn’t work.
Rose runs into an elevator, cursing as the man inside first refuses to take her down, but then does. The deck she has to go to is about a couple of feet underwater. The elevator man leaves and she stays. She runs around waste-deep water, yelling for Jack, when at last she hears him call back. With relief, she finds him and apologizes for letting them take him. She tries to look for a spare key, but there is none. All the while, the bow finally begins to go under. She runs outside to find help, leaving Jack waiting in the flooding room. Rose finds an axe in a glass case against the wall. She breaks open the glass and brings the axe back with her, where she is now up to her waist in freezing cold water, and does a couple of practice swings with the axe. Jack tells Rose he trusts her, and, shivering, she swings the axe down and cuts through the cuffs, freeing him. They make their way out of the room and look for an alternate route, as the path they were going to take is blocked off by approaching water.
The ship is now about halfway underwater as people continue to give sad goodbyes and Lovejoy runs up to Cal, telling him he cannot find Rose. They then decide they have to find a crewman who will let the men go into the boats.
In a hallway, a door is then broken open as Jack and Rose stumble out. One steward crewman yells at them, saying they’ll have to pay for the property damage, but the two just turn around and simultaneously shout “Shut up!”
In third class, Tommy is yelling at the crewman to let them all out, and he does for a moment. People immediately start piling through the door, and he locks the gate again. Tommy screams, “For God’s sake man, there are women and children down here! Let us out so we can have a chance!” He then goes back down a bit and sees Jack and Rose there. Jack embraces Fabrizio as he comes along, as they haven’t seen each other in a while. Fabrizio informs Jack that they can’t get through. Cal is briefly shown putting the diamond in his pocket, stating “I make my own luck.”
Jack, Rose, Fabrizio, and Tommy all run to another exit, but it is locked as well. The steward refuses to open it, even as Jack furiously demands him to. Jack then yells at Fabrizio and Tommy to help him and they rip a bolted bench out of the floor. Rose ushers people out of the way as they plow the bench into the gate, collapsing it. The steward orders them to stop, but Tommy punches him.
On the boat deck, things are getting out of control as panic is setting in. People try piling into lifeboats and the crewmen have to threaten them with guns for the first time. Officer Lightoller points his gun at passengers, demanding they maintain order (his gun is unloaded). 5th Officer Harold Lowe (Ioan Gruffudd), in charge of a boat, fires three warning shots into the air to prevent men from rushing upon it. Cal bribes Murdoch with money to save him a space on a lifeboat.
Jack, Rose, Tommy, and Fabrizio all rush by the band as it continues to play on deck, all trying to find a lifeboat. Lovejoy has seen Rose waiting with Jack for a boat and tells Cal, who turns down a chance to board a lifeboat to go to her. A boat at the front of the ship is being prepared to lower, and Ismay, wanting to save himself, selfishly boards the boat at the last minute. Murdoch watches him with disgust as the lifeboat is lowered into the ocean.
Officer Lighttoller then tells Rose to get onto a boat, but she refuses to leave Jack. Jack desperately wants her to go and so does Cal, who suddenly appears beside them. The two look at him fearfully as he pulls the blanket off her Jack has given her and puts his coat on her instead. He tries to comfort her, but Jack pushes himself between them. He then tells Rose to board the boat again, but she says “Not without you!” and tries clinging to him, when Cal insists he has an agreement where he and Jack can get onto a boat safely. Rose at last boards the lifeboat, tears filling her eyes as her hand slips away from Jack. The two stare at each other, Rose looking horrified and heartbroken and Jack giving her reassuring nods. Cal then tells Jack he is a good liar, and Jack knows there is no arrangement, at least none that he can benefit from. Cal says he always wins, one way or another. Jack looks sadly to Rose as they lock eyes again. Rose looks around at the crying families and back to Jack as another white distress rocket is fired up behind him. She then realizes she cannot possibly leave him, and jumps back onto the ship. Cal and Jack yell at her to stop, but she is already onboard again, running to meet Jack. They at last reunite on the foot of the Grand Staircase. They kiss each other desperately again and Jack tells her she is so stupid and demands why she did that. Her response is “You jump, I jump, right?” He smiles, crying along with her and says, “Right.”
They continue to embrace and kiss, Rose continuing to tell him she couldn’t leave him, and all the while are being watched by Cal, who is on the verge of tears himself. Lovejoy pulls him away from the scene, but Cal spirals out of control and grabs Lovejoy’s gun. He starts shooting after Rose and Jack and they run away from him, back down the flooding decks below to escape. On D Deck, they escape into the first class dining room. At last they are gone. He suddenly begins to laugh hysterically, realizing he put the diamond inside the coat-the coat he put on Rose.
Jack and Rose run through a hallway that is nearly flooded and run into a crying young boy. They start to leave with him for an exit, but his foreign father comes and pulls him away from them and runs off. Jack and Rose realize they are running straight into a door that is going to burst open with water any second. They try to warn him, but the man does not understand any Englishs and opens the door anyway, and a wall of water immediately flows into the hallway, sweeping away the foreigner and his young son. Jack and Rose try to outrun it, but cannot. They are swept up by the water, and when they finally do find a place of exit after nearly drowning, they realize it is another locked gate. It is deserted, but they see a steward come along who reluctantly tries to open the gate and let them out, but drops the keys into the water. He runs away and Jack feels for it under the water and then tries to unlock the gate. Jack barely unlocks it in time, only unlocking it after the area is completely underwater.
The two begin making their way back up top, where Officer Murdoch is threatening to shoot anyone who tries to get past him into a boat. Cal tries to, mentioning their deal but Murdoch just throws the money in his face. Tommy is yelling insults at him and is suddenly hit from behind by a man and accidentally flings himself forward. Murdoch shoots him in the chest, killing him. Murdoch watches Tommy’s blood spill down the slanting deck, realizing he just killed an innocent man. Murdoch then salutes one of the officers and puts his gun to his head. He pulls the trigger, taking his own life. His body falls into the water.
Cal finds a crying girl and uses her to get the both of them safely onto a lifeboat. Jack and Rose run through the tilting smoking room, where they see Thomas Andrews staring at a clock on top of a fireplace. He apologizes to Rose for not making her a stronger ship, and has decided to go down with it. He bids Rose good luck and gives her his lifebelt. Rose tells him the same and they embrace. Jack nods his head to him in a salute. Andrews is left alone in the room as Jack and Rose make their way on deck again. Captain Smith is watching the horrific scene unfold. An Irish woman with a baby comes by and asks him where to go, but the lifeboats are all gone. In a trance-like state, he ignores everything said to him and walks into a room inside the bridge used to direct and steer the ship. The waterline has now reached the bridge area and is starting to flood.
The band then decides to play one last song, a hymn entitled “Nearer My God To Thee.” Thomas Andrews fixes the clock he stands in front of to match the right time and then looks down sadly, struggling to stand upright as the ship begins to tilt further. An elderly couple lies on a bed (Mr and Mrs Straus), embracing as the room fills with water. A third-class mother tells her two children a bedtime story, one that is just enough to lull them to sleep before they all drown. Rose’s paintings float in her flooding stateroom. Fabrizio, crying, takes Tommy’s lifebelt as Cal holds the crying girl and the people run around screaming. An elderly man (Benjamin Guggenheim) who has dressed his best and has prepared to go down with the ship like a gentleman watches in fright as the Grand Staircase he is in begins filling with water. “Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight,” says Wallace Hartley (Jonathan Evans-Jones), the bandleader, as he lowers his violin and the song ends. Captain Smith is then shown with his hands on the steering wheel of the ship as the windows burst open with water and he is left to drown.
People are trying to get into a lifeboat that is still attached to the davits and the ropes have to be cut, because there isn’t any time to lower it properly. Fabrizio helps to do so and the boat drops into the water. Fabrizio swims away, and is nearly sucked into an open window of the flooding Grand Staircase. He pulls himself away, but is soon killed when the front funnel on the ship breaks off and collapses on top of him as well as many others, crushing them.
Everyone, including Jack and Rose, is seen rushing to the stern of the ship as it begins raising higher and higher. A priest (Father Byles) is reciting the Rosary prayer as frightened passengers are gathered around him. Jack and Rose make it to the stern and hold on to each other and the railing. Rose looks to Jack and says to him, “Jack, this is where we first met!” Jack kisses Rose’s forehead and holds her to him tightly. The ship is then shown hanging in the air, making perhaps a 30-degree angle between it and the water. People are slipping from the stern and are falling/sliding all the way toward the bow and crashing into the water. Others fall from the top of the stern, slamming into the water or hitting the propellers. From the lifeboats, everyone is looking at the ship in horror and disbelief. Ruth is looking besides Molly Brown, who says “God Almighty!” Bruce Ismay sees, too, and looks away painfully.
Below decks, the chief engineer and his men are still franticaly working in the slanting and breaking up engine room trying to keep the circut breakers in the failing power plant on when one engineer is electrucuted when water sprays from a bursting pipe, electricuting him on the fuse pannel. After that, all the lights on ship flicker once and then go out for good. Second later, the hull then breaks in two, and the injured Lovejoy is standing right where it is broken, and watches as many people fall into the electrical fire that is sparking. The broken off stern falls back level to the water. The bow and stern are still attached together at the bottom of the hull, and the bow sinks under, pulling the stern with it, causing the stern to lift out of the water to a 90-degree angle. The bow breaks off and the stern stays upright for a few minutes. Then, the stern begins to sink, and Jack tells Rose that the suction from the ship will pull them down. He says to grab his hand and to kick and swim to the surface. The stern finally descends under the water as both Jack and Rose take a deep breath. The suction from the ship is too strong, as Jack is pulled away from Rose and the two are separated. Rose blindly tries to reach for him underwater. Rose breaks the surface, shouting Jack’s name, where she is surrounded by hundreds of other passengers and crew shouting for help in the frozen water.
A man swims by and starts holding Rose underwater as he tries to use her to keep himself afloat. Jack then reappears and sees this. He yells at him to get off her and punches him in the face a couple of times. Rose is then told by Jack to swim as he pulls her along by her lifebelt. She tells him the water is so cold but he keeps telling her to swim. They come across a floating piece of wood and they both try to get on but their weight combined nearly topples it over. Jack volunteers to stay in the icy water as Rose gets on it alone. They stay close to each other and Jack tries to calm her by telling them the boats will be back. An officer (the chief officer) a few feet beside them is seen holding onto some deck chairs blowing his whistle, shouting for the officers to return the boats.
Meanwhile, many yards away, Molly Brown is trying to get the women to grab oars and go back to the people in the water. They are all crying, but do not move. Quartermaster Hitchens (Paul Brightwell), in charge of the boat, says that if they go back to help anyone, they will swamp the boat and be pulled under. He demands Molly to be quiet, and she is, for the first time, hopeless. However, Officer Lowe orders people to make room for one empty boat so he can go back.
Back in the water, the chief officer that had been seen with the whistle has stopped blowing it, as he has frozen to death. The screaming is considerably quieter. Both Jack and Rose’s skin has begun to turn pale with a bluish tint and they both have icicles lining their hair. As he shivers violently, Jack tells Rose the boats will be back soon and that they are just getting organized. Rose watches him and then says, “I love you, Jack.” Rose tells Jack it no longer matters if the boats don’t come back for them, for she will be with him to their deaths. He tells her not to say her goodbyes, and that she will get out of here, go on, have children, watch them grow, and die an old lady, warm in her bed. Rose says she cannot feel her body and feels like she is dying. Jack tells her that winning his ticket was the best thing that ever happened to him; it brought him to her. As he takes her hand, he makes her promise that she will survive and never give up no matter how dark or hopeless things are. “Never let go,” Jack continues, and Rose swears she will not.
Fifth Officer Harold Lowe is searching for survivors. He hasn’t found any and things are now dead silent. All he finds are frozen bodies, including the woman and her baby that never found a lifeboat earlier. Lowe is sick with grief, knowing they waited too long, but he keeps looking. Rose is then seen from above, floating on her back on the wood while holding Jack’s hand. Near death, she is staring up at the bright stars, gently singing “Come Josephine in my Flying Machine.” Her face is then illuminated and her frozen hair crunches as she turns her head to see the disoriented image of a lifeboat. She begins to shake her hand in Jack’s to wake him up from sleep. She tells him there is a boat, smiling. But he does not move. She continues to shake him, calling his name, more fiercely now, her smile beginning to fade. He still does not stir. A few more times she calls to him, tears coming to her eyes, and he does not awaken. She then realizes the truth; Jack is gone, having fallen victim to hypothermia in the freezing water.
Watching the boat move further away, she cries silently, and is tempted to stay there and die with Jack, but remembers her promise to never let go. She tries to yell for the boat to come back, but her voice is too hoarse for them to hear. She very reluctantly and sadly unclamps Jack’s frozen hand from hers, and kissing his hand, drops his body into the ocean. She is hardly able to swim, but she makes her way over to the frozen officer beside her with the whistle. She takes the whistle from around his neck and begins to blow it as hard as she can. Harold Lowe hears the noise, and the boat turns around.
In the present, Old Rose opens her eyes and looks at the teary-eyed people listening to her story. She tells them that 1,500 people died when the Titanic sank. Twenty boats were floating nearby, but only one came back. Only six people, including herself, were rescued. Those 700 people in the boats could only wait to die, live, or for an absolution that would never come. The former passengers of the R.M.S. Titanicare seen floating in the boats, very cold. Ruth is resting against Molly, looking very sad and Molly is looking sternly outward. Rose is lying in a boat, wrapped in a blanket and staring up at the sky, totally numb and in shock of what has happened. She glances up momentarily as a light sparks overhead. Officer Lowe has sent off a signal light and is shouting to another ship that has been spotted. Rose falls asleep, then awakens and sees a ship above her, displaying the name Carpathia.
All the mortified, disturbed survivors are seen scattered about as Cal comes down to the steerage deck, looking around. He is trying to find Rose, but doesn’t spot her. But Rose sees him and is angered that he survived whilst Jack did not. Older Rose then is heard saying that had been the last time she saw him and read that he later shot himself after the 1929 stock market crash left him financially ruined. Younger Rose is seen looking up at the Statue of Liberty in the rain as the ship comes into New York. An officer asks for her name and she says ‘Rose Dawson’. Lewis then tells elderly Rose that there were no records of Jack ever found, but Rose didn’t think there would be. She never spoke of Jack again until now, not even to Lizzie’s grandfather and says that “a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” But now they do know there is a man named Jack Dawson who saved her in every way possible. He exists now only in her memory. The sub is shown returning to the surface and leaves the R.M.S. Titanic alone in the sea once more. That night, Lizzie and Brock are talking alone on the boat. He says he thought of of nothing besides the Titanic for three years, but never really understood the importance of the tragedy. He then looks to the sea.
Some time later, Rose steps onto the back railing of Brock’s ship, just as she had done on the Titanic all those years ago. She opens her hand to reveal she has had the diamond all along. Old Rose drops it into the sea, feeling relieved.
That night, Rose is seen sleeping in her bed, beside her precious pictures. She is seen posing as an actress, smiling beside an airplane, riding a horse with one leg on each side, a roller coaster in the background. Perhaps she is asleep… perhaps not. The Titanic is then seen in its watery grave, but as we see further and further into the wreck, it suddenly transforms into no longer a wreck and becomes new again and a steward opens the fine, polished wooden doors that lead to the Grand Staircase with a nod. Inside, there is everyone who had perished on the Titanic alive and well again. Fabrizio leans beside the stairs as the world ends. Thomas Andrews looks on happily… and then in front of the clock, with his back facing everyone, Jack Dawson turns around and smiles in his comfortable 1912 attire. He extends his hand and then Rose takes it and she is in a white gown, young again, just as they had been so long ago. They smile at one another as they are reunited once more after eighty-four years. They begin kissing passionately under the bright light of the chandelier and the entire room applauds.
Fade out. End credits.