When Rose walks aboard the Titanic, who many call The Ship of Dreams, for her it is anything but. She likens it to a prison where her soul cries out for freedom and there is no escape. Her fiancée, Caledon Hockley, a man of wealth and viable means, promises her the world if she wouldn’t deny him. His wish? Open your heart to me, Rose. The price sounds too costly.
Enter Jack Dawson, the free-spirited young man who would change Rose’s life forever. He travels from place to place on tramp steamers and such. He won his ticket on the Titanic in a lucky hand of poker. A very lucky hand. They meet in the moonlight, she, wanting to take her life, he, wanting to save it. Give me your hand. You don’t want to do this, he says. Come on. One more step and she would’ve found herself floating in the middle of the Atlantic with the water so cold it would’ve hit her like a thousand knives. You saved me, Jack, in every way a person can be saved.
Rose meets Jack in First Class, among the most important on the ship. His art captivates her. Her cheeks grow hot at his drawings of the women. Did you like this woman? I think you must have had a love affair with her. Not at all, he says, just with her hands. She was a one-legged prostitute. Rose melts knowing she promised her heart to Caledon. All the wedding invitations have gone out, there’s no escape of the inevitable. She has to marry him.
Do you love him? Oh, Jack, what a silly question to ask. It’s simple, do you love him or not? Rose props her head high, and declares her departure. Wait a minute, it’s First Class, he has to leave! Not before he teaches her how to spit. Strange kids. On the First Class deck, he aims for the sunset bathed ocean. It went far. They’re one. No denying they belong together.
But then there’s Cal. Caledon. What to do? Rose’s heart tears from knowing if she gives him up, she’d be giving up her security. He’s been good to her. If you don’t break free, Jack says, your heart will die. Maybe not right away but the fire will eventually go out. Rose makes her decision. It’s not up to you to save me, Jack. For both our sakes, leave me alone. As strong as she tries, she can’t muster the courage to ignore Jack. Nothing can quench the fire within her not to be with her secret lover.
When the iceberg finally hits, they can smell the ice. But Rose had decided. When the ship lands, she will disappear with Jack. Before that happens, he will have to free himself. Cal frames him with stealing The Heart of the Ocean diamond. Into the belly of the ship Jack goes, handcuffs and all.
As the ship sinks, Rose’s desperate search for Jack leads to a water-filled grave. Where, oh, where has my Jack gone? In the bowels of the beast, her back against the wall, the vessel groans. She will find him. She will rescue him just as he had done for her. Except this time, she will never doubt him again. Ever.
Rose eventually finds Jack, rescues him from his watery prison, and he leads her to the top of the ship where they consummate a promise of life. Whatever you do, Rose, don’t let go of my hand. We’re gonna make it. Trust me.
I trust you.
The ship bobs for a bit. Stays still. Then flounders. In a rush, waves swallow the couple whole. A few minutes later, the ocean regrets taking the lovers and releases them to the surface.
On a scrap of debris, Jack asks Rose one thing of her. With every last trembling breath he can collect, promise me you will survive. That you will never give up. No matter what happens. No matter how hopeless. Promise me now, and never let go of that promise.
Never let go.
I promise. I will never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.