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(Credit: Century Fox)

Film

Exploring the theory that Jack from 'Titanic' is a time traveller

We’ve all been there – unable to sleep, we take to aimlessly scrolling through the internet in an attempt to bore us into snoring. Yet the internet is home to countless websites and forums where strangers can discuss the latest fan theories on popular movies and television shows. Before you know it, you’ve probably wasted hours scrolling through websites that claim Sandy died at the beginning of Grease, or Ferris Bueller is just a figment of Cameron’s imagination.

However, one of the most popularly theorised movies remains James Cameron’s romantic disaster epic Titanic. Released in 1997, the film starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as Jack and Rose, who meet and fall in love on the unfortunate night of the Titanic’s sinking. The film was a huge success, becoming the highest-grossing picture of all time in 1998, retaining this status until the release of James Cameron’s tenth film Avatar in 2009. Titanic even won eleven Academy Awards, which demonstrates just how successful it was – it’s no wonder fans still enthusiastically theorise the events of the film to this day.

One of the most common frustrations audiences have expressed is the fact that there was room for Jack on the door alongside Rose. Instead, she lets him sink to his death whilst she survives to tell the tale of that dreaded night. However, another theory concludes that Jack is a time-traveller, sent to prevent Rose from committing suicide and ensuring that the ship does in fact sink. This theory is just one of many that are held together by a series of events within the film that could easily be put down to technical blunders, however, in a film as meticulously planned out as Titanic, it is questionable whether Cameron would have made such mistakes.

The theory begins with the fact that Jack wins his ticket aboard the ship in a poker game, since he is too poor to afford one. This leads fans to suggest that Jack has no money because he isn’t from the early twentieth century, so he doesn’t possess the correct currency. Furthermore, when Jack and Rose meet, he discusses how he has spent time fishing on Lake Wissota, however, this man-made lake did not exist until 1917 – five years after the sinking of the ship. Later on, during the iconic scene in which Jack holds Rose as they look out over the ocean, he tells her he’ll take her to ride a rollercoaster on Santa Monica Pier, which was also not yet constructed.

These are definitely points of contestation – Jack could have genuinely been poor, and the writers could easily have made some poorly-researched cultural references. With this in mind, theorists have provided way more evidence to prove that Jack is a time traveller. There is the issue of his hairstyle, which is distinctively modern for the period – most men around this time wore short combed back styles that were a far cry from the effortless 1990s heartthrob cut that Jack sports. And that’s not the only thing wrong with how Jack presents himself – he is also seen carrying a backpack that was not popular until the 1930s, and uses slang such as “bum a smoke” which was not typically used in the early twentieth century.

So, why would Jack want to ensure that the Titanic sank? There is no concrete answer, of course, however, theorists suggest that without the sinking of the Titanic, history would have looked wildly different, thus, Jack was sent back in time to keep history as we know it on course. To do this, he had to stop Rose from committing suicide, otherwise, the ship would have undoubtedly stopped to look for her, thus avoiding the iceberg. Many fans of this theory have taken it one step further, suggesting that Jack is a part of Cameron’s Terminator universe and is sent back in time to ensure that Rose gives birth to Sarah Connor’s mother.

The whole Jack is a time traveller theory is farfetched, to say the least, and can most likely be put down to technical errors that managed to slip under the gaze of production during filming. It is highly unlikely that Cameron set Jack up to be a time traveller, there to ensure that the ship sinks. In fact, this makes the whole film considerably bleaker, considering that the romance between Jack and Rose acts as a symbol of hope and love amongst the tragedy of a shipwreck.