The 1997 blockbuster Titanic went into the collective memory of filmgoers as a classic, up there with the likes of The Godfather and The Sound of Music. There wasn’t really anything to dislike about the film. It lit up cinemas from its awesome presence with a lifelike set, brilliant lighting and cinematography, a well-crafted script – albeit not the best acting, but bearable – and that killer song by Celine Dion. English Literature and History students would find the whole focus on class and gender struggles overtly appealing too. Then, there’s Leo. I needn’t expand on why he’s good for the film.
James Cameron once spoke of the emotional response that people get when they return to the film in explaining why it had such an impact on the world of cinema saying, ‘I think there’s a nostalgic component and an eternal component, which is the actual story itself, of the ship sinking, which will never go away.’ Indeed, the movie was unequivocally special and spectacular.
Yet, I would argue that it would have been a flop if it hadn’t undergone some serious surgery in the editing room. I’m not a Titanic hater, in fact quite the opposite: self-confessed fan girl here, which is why the deleted scenes are so unbearable.
After watching what I originally hoped to be an hour of deleted scenes filled with DiCaprio in sexy stances, was actually a series of codswallop clips, I have concluded that there are some scenes that were right to be cut, some that should have been included, and others that absolutely, categorically should never have been thought of, let alone written, shot or considered. These absolute shockers would have altered the whole course of the film in unimaginable ways and Titanic would not be the renowned success it is now.
Firstly, I want to address those scenes that were right to be cut, but despite their disposals were acceptable to have been shot. I can forgive James Cameron for using DiCaprio’s energy and some of his OTT budget in creating these scenes, but can equally appreciate why they didn’t make the final cut.
Rose Visits Third Class
In this scene, just before Rose and Jack’s first daytime walk along the deck, Rose transcends the class borders and descends into the third class to fetch Jack. Here you see children chasing rats along the floor, Fabrizio wooing a woman and hordes of people crowded onto benches. You see this scene and can picture that that is really what it was like: not overly glamorous, but not slums either. The glimpse we saw of the third class in the daytime was one of the best in the film, and Kate Winslet’s favourite scene, so this snippet of the same area in the day would have been good to see, but not necessary.
Following the classic night out on the lower deck where Rose drinks like a man and performs a bit of ballet, our next deleted scene shows a walk on the deck whereby Jack and Rose sing ‘Come Josephine In My Flying Machine’, a song that pops up throughout the film but isn’t very prominent or noticeable. It is too contrived to make the cut though as the two abruptly stop singing as they reach a ‘1st class’ sign realising, of course, that Jack can’t go any further. Rose goes all philosophical on us describing the sky as ‘vast and endless’ – state the obvious. Jack gives us another anecdote. Back to Rose, and just as a conveniently timed shooting star passes she says something contrived again; she would wish for something she can’t have. Come on.
Ida Straus Won’t Leave
A short and snappy scene placed around the time when the lifeboats are being brought out sees Ida Strauss, a real life figure who boarded the Titanic and was married to the co-owner of Macy’s, refusing to leave her husband. They argue like a stereotypical old couple. With shoddy acting and a line like ‘don’t argue with me, you know it does no good’ it was right to get the chop. One can’t help that the director intended this to reflect an older Jack and Rose, who also face the struggle of separating.
Farewell to Helga
A whole storyline of Fabrizio’s romance with Helga is missed out of the final cut of Titanic. In this particular ditched scene Helga and Fabrizio are forced to say goodbye and he employs that awful ‘I’ll never forget you.’ It is a shame that we didn’t get to see the natural acting of Camilla Overbye Roos who does her minor role of Helga justice. However, this added dimension of romance between two minor characters was unneeded and could have taken away from the central romance of the story.
So, there were some overcooked scenes that weren’t quite sharp enough for such a blockbuster, and some that would have given the plot an unneeded depth. After all, without these deleted scenes the film was already over three hours long. However, there are a few scenes that I think deserved to share some of that on screen time.
Rose Feels Trapped
Shortly after the scene where Rose talks of seeing her whole life as if she’d already lived it before she runs down the ship to try and jump off it, there is a lost scene. In the deleted clip, Rose returns from the meal to her room where she struggles to take her tight dress off reasserting her metaphorical and literal entrapment. The film was effectively cut as it was; going from a calm restaurant of fanciful conversations to a chaotic run along the deck was definitely eye catching, but this deleted scene would have shown us more about Rose’s personal turmoil and made the near jump seem more justified. On a pedantic front it also shows why her hair and accessories change within a split change of scene.
A Kiss In The Boiler Room
Just as Jack and Rose go down into the boiler room to escape Cal’s spy, Lovejoy, there is a hidden gem of a scene that ensues that James Cameron snatched away from us. The couple stop in their tracks for a natural and passionate kiss, literally too hot to handle. Cinematically, it is a beautiful scene with the smoke and the colours and I’m not entirely sure why we didn’t get to see it.
Release The Hounds
This 30 second addition that saw Cal stare at some dogs prancing along the deck when everyone else was having a meltdown, would have explained to us why dogs were seen getting onto the boat but vanished after going to the toilet on the lower decks. I’m not sure what the poodle and pug did wrong to not make the final cut. I’m advocating representation of the animals.
Extended Carpathia Sequence
Towards the latter part of the film when the surviving passengers are transferred onto the Carpathia and Rose adopts Jack’s surname for her registration, we are deprived of a sensational scene. In the unused section we see the sailors of the Carpathia go out of their way to help anyone and everyone. At the same time. Bruce Ismay, the ashamed managing director of White Star Lines, is scrutinised by the many hundreds of daughters and wives wondering why this man, accountable for many lives, was able to walk onto Carpathia whilst their men lay lifeless in the ocean. The scene captures true despair, and evokes Ismay’s conscience. Undoubtedly, this should have been added to the film up until the point where it goes artificial again and old Rose starts talking about caterpillars and butterflies. Simmer down.
We’ve had the dodgy scenes and the unrecognised ones, but not for the truly abhorrent ones that Cameron should feel guilty for creating.
Jack and Lovejoy fight
At the point where Cal tries and fails many times to shoot Jack and Rose he instead employs his ‘man-servant’ Lovejoy (who knew he had a name?) to do it for him. Lovejoy stalks the dining room with his gun whilst unbalanced trollies ominously move around and bump into him – but unfortunately don’t knock him down – like a scene out of Paranormal Activity. From horror to action, Lovejoy finds Rose who is breathing louder than someone on a Crunchy Nut advert and says, “I’ve been looking for you miss” at which point Jack leaps onto him like his prey. A fight ensues, one of WWE Smackdown calibre. Lovejoy calls Jack “a little shit”, and Jack punches him ‘”compliments of the Chippewa Falls Dawsons” as if we needed reminding of his humble background. It is a truly awful, drawn out scene. The only thing I can give it credit for it explaining why Lovejoy has a cut on his head later on. I urge you do not waste nearly five minutes of your life watching this.
If we backtrack to an earlier point in the film when Rose and Jack are talking about how he saved her the night before, a deleted clip now sees them discussing artsy stuff and how Rose desires nothing more to be ‘poor but free’, an overbearing message of the film. She confesses how she hates caviar and having her dreams dictated for her. Of course, she hates the expectation of being ‘a delicate little flower’ insisting she is in fact ‘sturdy, as strong as a horse’. It is too fixed and false for words. Overcooked it, Cameron. But it continues: Rose beings to dance and pose on the deck like a village idiot. Again, the only thing worth crediting this scene for is giving us a pretext as to why she later became an actress when getting off the Titanic, but otherwise it is a cliché scene. We get the point that she is a trapped, repressed female and don’t need reminding this much.
The Alternate Ending
Finally, we have reached the monster of all Titanic deleted scenes: the alternate ending. I can’t picture the film in the same way now knowing how ghastly it could have been. After investing three hours into it, this scene would not be a reward. So, in the final cut we have the emotional closure of Rose dropping the diamond necklace into the Atlantic instead of handing it over to a man who would exploit it for its material value. She returns full circle to the promise she made to Jack before he died. Yet, in this absolutely terrible scene which kicks off with rock music and sambuca shots, Brock Lovett tells of how he has learnt a lesson from listening to Rose; he thought of nothing but the necklace for three years but didn’t really understand the story of Titanic. Nice. You learnt something. Let’s leave it there. Movie over.
But in this sadistic clip it doesn’t stop there unfortunately. Rose’s granddaughter looks over to another part of the ship seeing the old woman climb onto the rails where she is about to throw the necklace from and quickly scurries over thinking that Rose is going to jump overboard. Rose, of course, utters the line from the parallel scene of this earlier on, ‘don’t come any closer,’ whilst dangling the necklace overboard. You cannot visualise the Rose who we have seen grow throughout the film spiral out of control into this monster who looks up into the sky and laughs like some menace. Meanwhile, we realise Brock hasn’t actually learnt anything as he begs for the Coeur de la mer. Rose lets him hold it, but like a cruel pet owner confiscates the treat reminding him that ‘only life is priceless and making each day count.’ A real face-palm moment.
The fat guy runs over and shouts at Rose, a 101 year old woman whose sad, epic tale he has just heard. Brock, meanwhile, is staring at his claw-like hand and also laughing like an evil genius. This just totally ruins the sentiment of the film. I never did like the sub plot of Brock trying to find the necklace; it seemed like an uncreative way to make hearing Rose’s story seem relevant, and it definitely shouldn’t have been elucidated on it this scene. You’ll never guess what happens next: a shooting star.
Such a catastrophe makes you doubt Cameron’s skill and wonder how good the movie was originally supposed to be. It could well have been a contrived flop, but somehow evolved in the editing room to a masterpiece, and thank God it did.