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Titanic Scenes That Still Make Us Cry

In 1997, a movie came out that totally blew audiences away with its spectacle, romance, and incredible cast, which ultimately ended up being one of the most expensive films ever made (via Los Angeles Times). That movie was "Titanic" and, since then, it has gone down as one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. James Cameron's obsession with both deep sea exploration and the fateful real-life disaster of the R.M.S. Titanic coalesced into the creation of this film. While the story takes liberties with the actual historical record, it focuses on the human lives lost during that seafaring tragedy by creating imagined star-crossed lovers doomed to meet on their shared voyage.

"Titanic" became an instant success, with endless accolades awarded to the cast and crew of its production. It stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading roles of Rose and Jack, lovers from different social classes whose romance is interrupted by an untimely iceberg. It also features incredible special effects and the filmmaking prowess that only James Cameron possesses to realistically depict the sinking of this supposedly unsinkable vessel. While the movie rides the line between action, romance, and tragedy, there are countless moments that tug at our collective heartstrings, no matter how many times we watch. As we approach the film's 25th anniversary, read on to remember all the "Titanic" scenes that still make us cry.

Bow Kiss Scene

Rooted at the heart "Titanic" is an unlikely romance between Rose DeWitt (an upper-class society girl) and Jack (a charming but poor artist). The beauty of their relationship comes from their different backgrounds and sensibilities, as well as what they teach each other as the story goes on. Rose is an oppressed socialite who dreams of independence from her overbearing mother and fiancé, while Jack is a free spirit who is eager to get caught up in the romance of the moment. Their love hits a crescendo following the "King of the World" scene, where the two share a passionate kiss on the Titanic's bow during sunset. In climbing onto the bow of the ship, Rose experiences a few precious minutes of weightlessness and freedom, as it offers the illusion of flying. With an instrumental version of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" soaring in the background, this scene captures the magic of their brief, tragic relationship.

Although James Cameron made up these two characters for the sake of drama, they represent elements of the real-life sinking that remain emotionally charged to this day. Classism was on display everywhere during the early 20th century, and passengers on the real Titanic were separated by their wealth and prestige. Sadly, the second and third-class passengers suffered the highest casualty rates, since they were located deeper within the ship and were considered lower priorities (aside from the crew, who had a roughly 75% fatality rate). The ultimate fate of Jack and Rose encapsulates this dynamic in a gut-wrenching way without spoiling the beauty of their time together.

Striking The Iceberg

If you know the history of how the Titanic sank, then you understand just how dangerous icebergs can be out at sea. On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg while sailing from Southampton to New York City, and within a few hours completely sank beneath the frigid North Atlantic waters. Upwards of 1500 people aboard died (out of approximately 2224), as a result of the speed at which it sank, the unpreparedness of the crew, and a lack of sufficient lifeboats on board. To this day, the Titanic's sinking is regarded as one of the worst maritime disasters in history with one of the highest non-combat casualty rates of any sinking.

With all this in mind, one of the most foreboding scenes in James Cameron's "Titanic" is the moment when the ship hits an iceberg while Jack and Rose are on deck. This moment is intensified by the dramatic build-up of tension between the officers on the bridge who suddenly become aware of the impending danger and desperately try to avoid it. Although there's an attempt to steer the ship away, it ultimately scrapes up against its hull, causing chunks of ice to rain down over the main characters witnessing the whole thing. Although it's not necessarily sad at the moment, it becomes a truly heartbreaking scene when thinking about everything that comes after.

Mr. Andrews' Failure

A particularly famous passenger on the Titanic's maiden voyage was its designer, Thomas Andrews. He was the primary architect who oversaw the plans for how the ship would be built and, sadly, perished along with his creation in 1912. In "Titanic," Thomas Andrews (played by Victor Garber) is a prominent character who befriends Rose throughout the story, thanks to his kindness and consideration for others. He is the first to confirm that the Titanic will sink, and one of the few people to show compassion for passengers while insisting that everyone put on life preservers and get to the lifeboats.

One of the saddest scenes in the movie for many viewers is the final interaction between Rose and Thomas Andrews within the smoking room (which at this point is noticeably tilted from the sinking). In the scene, it's clear how much guilt Andrews feels for his failure to make the Titanic actually unsinkable. He tells Rose, "I'm sorry I couldn't make you a stronger ship," showing the responsibility he feels for the tragedy. History has exonerated Thomas Andrews, since the chain of events leading to the Titanic sinking has ultimately been deemed not the fault of its designer, but rather a mixture of human hubris and bad luck. Many historians believe that if the Titanic hit the iceberg directly on its bow rather than scraping across the entire side of the ship, it may have actually survived.

Tommy Getting Shot

One of the most shocking and unexpected moments of heartbreak during "Titanic" is when Jack's buddy, Tommy Ryan (played by Jason Barry), gets shot by First Officer William Murdoch (Ewan Stewart) during a chaotic scene on deck. Although it appears to be nothing more than an unfortunate accident, since Ryan is pushed towards Murdoch after he fires a warning shot into the air to keep panicking passengers away from the lifeboats, Tommy's death in Fabrizio's arms remains a tear-jerking moment of loss before the ship even submerges into the ocean.

It might seem like a plot element the filmmakers made up to raise the stakes, but there is actually historical evidence to suggest that someone might have gotten shot during the Titanic's sinking. Eyewitnesses from the event remembered that First Officer Murdoch did in fact shoot his gun at some point and, in some accounts, even shot himself. This is a theory that is depicted in "Titanic," since moments after killing Tommy, a guilt-ridden Murdoch takes his own life as well.

Old Couple In Bed

When people think of sad moments in "Titanic," they often remember the adorable old couple who cuddle in bed as water begins to fill up their room. This image has been seared into the minds of audiences as a devastating window into the love these two people shared in their final moments, but it gets even sadder once you realize they're based on two real passengers who lost their lives together.

According to Slashfilm, this couple is actually Isidor and Ida Straus, who were a real-life couple on board the Titanic that night. They were extremely wealthy passengers, since Isidor was the founder of Macy's department store. The story goes that when Ida learned that only women and children would be allowed on lifeboats during the evacuation, she chose to stay behind with her beloved husband so they could die together. During an interview with Today, the great-grandson of the Straus' told the story of his ancestors in detail. He said, "My great-grandmother Ida stepped into the lifeboat expecting that her husband would follow. When he didn't follow, she was very concerned and the ship's officer in charge of lowering that particular lifeboat said, 'Well, Mr. Straus, you're an elderly man, and we all know who you are. Of course you can enter the lifeboat with your wife.' And, my great-grandfather said, 'No. Until I see that every woman and child on board this ship is in a lifeboat, I will not enter into a lifeboat myself.'"

Captain Going Down With The Ship

Many people lost their lives when the Titanic sank, but the highest-ranking member of the crew to die that night was the captain himself. Captain Edward John Smith was a lifelong seaman who served in both the British Royal Navy and the White Star Line throughout his extensive career, but the Titanic was meant to be his final command before retirement. Ironically, he was quoted as once saying that he didn't think it'd even be possible for a modern ship to sink, thanks to advances in technology. Sources in "Titanic: A Night Remembered" by Stephanie Barczewski claimed he could not "imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that."

In "Titanic," Captain Smith (Bernard Hill) is portrayed as a kind but indecisive man who is so stunned by the news of his ship sinking that he's unable to lead his crew in an effective way. After reality sets in, the captain retreats to the wheelhouse where he remains as the ship sinks beneath the cold Atlantic ocean. This scene brings tears to the eyes of the audience, watching as the captain stands surrounded by creaking glass deep underwater, fearful of what's about to happen. When water does finally rush in and kill Smith, it's a genuinely melancholy moment of loss.

Man Running Wrong Way With Child

A scene in "Titanic" as terrifying as it is heartbreaking is the moment where Jack and Rose encounter a man with a young child in his arms within the bowels of the ship. This is well into the sinking portion of the film, and the hallways are quickly being flooded with seawater and debris as the Titanic rapidly descends into the depths of the ocean.

In the scene, Jack and Rose find a young boy screaming for help in one of the hallways deep inside the ship. Behind him, closed doors barely hold back water which continues leaking through onto the other side. When our main characters try to rescue the child, a stranger takes him from them and runs in the wrong direction back towards the soon-to-be flooded doors. Jack and Rose desperately try to warn the man (who speaks a different language) that he's going the wrong way, but it's too late. When a tide of ice-cold water bursts inside, it sweeps both the main and child away to their deaths, leaving audiences with a deep pit in their stomach from what they just witnessed.

Fabrizio's Death

Jack really can't catch a break in this movie, since both of his best friends end up facing gruesome ends. While Tommy dies at the end of a gun, the lovable Fabrizio (played by Danny Nucci) is killed in an even more horrifying way that breaks our hearts every time we watch it.

When the Titanic sank, all four of its iconic funnels ended up breaking as the entire ship lifted up into the air. While there's no official historical report of these falling on anyone during the tragedy it's also entirely possible that someone could've gotten hurt from these massive stacks slamming into the water. The visual is both terrifying and saddening, which is exactly why James Cameron chose this as Fabrizio's cause of death. Towards the end, when Fabrizio is already in the water while attempting to flee the vessel, one of the stacks lands directly on top of him, killing him instantly. Poor Fabrizio.

Mom Tucking Her Kids In

Similar to the old couple scene is this even more devastating moment where an Irish immigrant mother is tucking her two children into bed and lovingly telling them a bedtime story (devastatingly, her tale is about Tír na nÓg, the Celtic land of eternal youth, as she knows by now that her children will not grow to adulthood) as water seeps into their cramped cabin. It is a harrowing moment in the film which comes during a montage, directly following a somber Thomas Andrews and the Straus couple in similar situations.

By far one of the saddest scenes in the entire movie, it showcases how many of the Titanic's passengers had no chance of survival and were forced to accept their deaths with grace. The mom (played by "Aliens" alum Jenette Goldstein) brings a warm intimacy to the film with her compassion for her children, despite knowing that she's about to lose them along with her own life. It's genuinely traumatizing to observe this while knowing how many families lost their lives when the Titanic sank.

Rescuers Calling Out With No Responses

Just like in real life, the surviving lifeboats in "Titanic" waited for quite a while after the sinking before going back to rescue more survivors. They did this to prevent panicking passengers from overwhelming the lifeboats, which could kill even more people, but this gruesome calculus of life and death makes for compelling drama in the film. As a result, one of the most frustrating and saddening moments at the very end of "Titanic" is when the lifeboats return to the stretch of frozen bodies to see if anyone is still alive.

This scene in "Titanic" is straight out of a horror movie, as we watch an entire field of dead, frozen passengers floating in absolute silence on the ocean surface. Only one lifeboat returns to search for survivors and, as they call out to the bodies, nobody responds to them. We see bodies of people both young and old, and one particularly devastating shot at a mother holding her infant baby in her arms. It becomes a deafeningly quiet sequence that follows the intense chaos of the ship sinking, bringing our attention back to what really matters: the victims.

Jack's Death

Here is it, the scene where everyone cries no matter how many times they've seen the movie. Jack's death towards the end of "Titanic" has become an iconic piece of popular culture for how absolutely emotionally crushing it is to see one of the main characters freeze to death and slip through the fingers of his true love. Her last words to Jack, who had already succumbed to hypothermia are, "I will never let go, Jack. I'll never let go," and they instantly turn on the waterworks for audiences around the world.

Although there have since been heated debates online over whether Jack's death was necessary, since it seems like there's enough room on the piece of debris for both of them, even James Cameron himself has weighed in on the issue, saying in an interview with the Daily Beast that Jack had no chance of survival. His death may be heartbreaking, but it's also an essential part of what makes "Titanic" such a memorable tragic story of love and loss. It is endlessly compelling to see how far Jack goes to keep Rose safe and give her a chance at living the life she deserves, even at the expense of his own.

Rose's Afterlife

It's easy to forget, given its opulent period setting, that much of "Titanic" is set in modern times as a crew of surveyors search for a precious item within the wreck. They bring an elderly Rose, now roughly 100 years old and played by the late Gloria Stuart, on the ship to talk about her first-hand experience aboard the Titanic.

This framing story allowed James Cameron to use actual footage he gathered of the real wreck sitting on the ocean floor while also connecting audiences to the tragedy through a modern lens. But beyond that, it also generates a deeply moving ending. After recounting her entire story to the explorers, it is revealed that she still has the priceless necklace they've been searching for all along. She then tosses it into the ocean, goes to sleep, and passes away peacefully in bed before transitioning to a blissful afterlife. For Rose, her heaven is being reunited with all the people who died back on that fateful night in the pristine grand staircase where Jack is waiting to take her hand. A fittingly beautiful conclusion for one of the greatest love stories ever committed to film.