Ever since James Cameron's blockbuster film Titanic hit movie screens in December 1997, fans have been arguing about a specific scene in which Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) nobly gives up a spot on a makeshift raft to ensure Rose (Kate Winslet), the woman he loves, survives. Tired of constantly having to defend his artistic choice against claims that both lovers could have fit onto the raft, Cameron decided to re-create the scenario under controlled conditions in a new documentary for National Geographic: Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron, marking the film's quarter-century anniversary.
For the 10 people on the planet who haven't seen the film, Jack and Rose are star-crossed lovers from different social strata who have the misfortune of consummating their love minutes before Titanic hits that infamous iceberg. (The characters are fictional, intended to humanize the tragedy by giving us someone specific to root for.) Much drama ensues, involving Rose rescuing Jack from a lower deck as the icy waters approach and engulf them and jumping off the lifeboat she briefly boarded because she can't imagine leaving Jack behind.
Thanks to Jack's cool head in a crisis, they survive Titanic's sinking. They end up splashing around in the icy waters with the other survivors until Jack finds a floating piece of debris and hoists Rose onto the makeshift raft. But when he tries to climb up too, the raft becomes unstable. Unwilling to risk her safety, Jack stays in the water, clinging to the raft's edge, and slowly freezes to death. Rose is rescued. Many diehard romantics were outraged at being robbed of their fairy tale ending, prompting heated debates and speculative theories about how Jack might have survived in the water long enough for them both to be rescued.