When James Cameron set about creating his 1997 epic, Titanic, never would he have imagined that he’d be bombarded with questions and criticisms regarding its controversial ending 20 years later (not-so-spoiler alert: Jack dies, Rose lives, viewers stand by the fact that they both could have fit on the makeshift raft).
And while we could keep the debate fire burning for another 20 years — throwing in theories of time-traveling and imaginary characters — and try to debunk the logistics involved in keeping two people afloat atop a broken door, it would only detract from time that could be spent crying over this real-life couple who shared a similar fate to the infamous Jack and Rose.
Despite occurring over 100 years ago, the sinking of the #Titanic continues to fascinate modern society, with documentaries and exhibitions continuing to uncover bits of history that were under threat of being lost to the bottom of the sea.
In remembrance of the disaster on its 105th anniversary, an exhibit in Las Vegas has gathered a collection of artifacts from the wreckage, discovered two and a half miles below the North Atlantic ocean’s surface. Among the discoveries was an 18-carat gold locket, found in 1994, belonging to a first-class passenger named Virginia Estelle McDowell Clark, who managed to survive the disaster. Sadly, her husband, Walter Miller Clark, was not so lucky.
Curator and vice president of collections for Premier Exhibitions, Alexandra Klingelhofer, told Today that the couple had boarded the Titanic in order to arrive home early to Los Angeles and celebrate the birthday of their 2-year-old son. They had been vacationing in Europe on a delayed honeymoon when they booked themselves onto the ill-fated ship.
When the ship collided with the iceberg, Virginia was in her cabin while Walter was in an upstairs lounge. When they found each other, they raced to the boat deck where, just as the film depicts, the women and children were separated from the men and placed on lifeboats. While Walter made sure his wife was safely on one of the boats, he was still trapped on the ship. As the boats were lowered, passengers on the other levels were unable to board them due to a logistics issue, stranding hundreds of potential survivors on the sinking ship.
“So the boat ended up on the ocean surface with many other seats available. Had they known earlier, Walter could have gotten on to the boat with her, but he did not. He stayed with the other first-class men and bravely went down with the ship.”
The thought of Virginia realizing that her husband could very easily have had a seat on the lifeboat as she watched the ship sink into the ocean should be enough to thaw the iceberg in your heart.
In other news, the discovery is expected to reduce the amount of “Jack could have fit” remarks by half, with Jack’s name now being swapped for Walter.
Which Titanic love story pierces your heart like an iceberg to a ship's hull more?