What else is there to say about the platonic blockbuster that is James Cameron’s Titanic as we near its 25th anniversary? Like, it’s Titanic. The film—soundtrack, star-crossed lovers, steamy horseless carriages, and all—is arguably a bigger part of our cultural history at this point than the damn sunken ship itself. While time hasn’t been particularly kind to the movie, it remains a go-to example of Hollywood extravagance, and will continue to influence the medium for years to come.
So yeah, not much else to talk about regarding Titanic...but there sure as hell is a lot to talk about its unused, overlooked, and absolutely ridiculous alternate ending.
To quote Bill Paxton’s stereotypical “techie sidekick sporting an ironic t-shirt underneath an unbuttoned Hawaiian top”: What the hell, lady?!
Now that’s how you do an alternate ending, people. As a brief refresher, Titanic’s official finale [24-year-old spoiler alert] reveals the elderly Rose (played by the late Gloria Stuart) has, in fact, been in possession of the sought-after heart diamond this whole time before she secretly tosses the valuable necklace back into the freezing Atlantic waters, presumably to float down towards Jack’s remains as a rude reminder to his ghost that there was definitely room on that makeshift raft for the two of them.
In the alternate ending, Rose still senselessly gifts her priceless heirloom to the murky abyss—but not before the audience is treated to a solid eight-minutes of absolute absurdity, in which Rose clumsily explains that you can’t put a price on love or memory, appears to briefly consider leaping to her death off the ship’s bow, and essentially taunts Bill Paxton’s character with the necklace before literally pulling it through his fingers.
We even get an aerial pan-away shot of Paxton goofily laughing into the air—a scene that, while obviously meant to depict his sudden, enlightened detachment from worldly goods, instead comes off as a character losing his mind from the prospect of having to explain to a bunch of angry Russians why he can’t repay them for financing his deep sea voyage. It’s wonderful.
The clip has actually been available to the masses since its inclusion on a 2005 DVD release of the movie, and has even occasionally surfaced online, but we feel it’s our duty to make sure as many people learn of this absolute treasure of a deleted scene. Hell, even Paxton later copped to the unused scene’s weirdness. “The alternate ending that didn’t make the movie.... Oh, Jesus,” Paxton wistfully remembered in an interview with Yahoo News published just days after his death in February 2017—as succinct a summary as one could hope. “...I mean, I would have shot heroin to make the scene work better,” he added.
Rest in peace Bill Paxton, a gem whose legacy shines brighter than any chintzy purple heart diamond necklace ever could.
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