by Evyania Constant
As Jack stares piercingly into the ocean below him, seemingly mourning his lost love, Rose suddenly appears behind him. “Hello Jack,” she says, as he whisks around in disbelief, “I’ve changed my mind.” He quickly hushes her, leading her to the bow of the ship. He tells her to close her eyes, and asks if she trusts him. Rose, of course, replies “yes”, and so Jack leads her slowly up the safety bars while simultaneously ascending behind her. He then spreads her arms into a wing-like position, gently holding her at the waist. “Now open your eyes,” he says, and as Rose does, we hear the famous line “I’m flying, Jack!” The two briefly enjoy the view ahead before turning their eyes at each other, and sharing their long awaited first kiss.
As one of the greatest romance films ever made, Titanic is overflowing with famous scenes. The most iconic moment, however, is undoubtedly the one described above: Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) holding Rose (Kate Winslet) at the bow of the ship, while she shouts: “I’m flying, Jack!” Of course, this scene is known for the intense passion we see between the two leads. It is the first time we see Jack and Rose kiss, after all. However, this specific scene holds extreme significance far beyond the euphoric sensations it provokes. A level of depth exists within it, which must be considered in explaining its importance to the rest of the film.
The last time that Rose stood at the bow of the ship, it was with the intention of ending her life. She was ready to die, hoping to escape her impending marriage and a suffocated life of snobbish parties and conversation. However, before she could jump, Jack managed to convince her against the idea and ultimately saved her life. Thus, she snapped back into her dreadful reality with one ray of hope: the unrestrained Jack Dawson.
In this iconic scene, Rose again, comes to the bow of the ship with intentions of giving up her life: not through suicide this time, but through her relationship with Jack. She knows that in allowing her feelings for Jack to blossom, she inevitably will not marry Cal or keep her fortune. When Rose says that she has changed her mind, she essentially pleas willingness to give up everything she has and find a new life with Jack. She then ascends to the bow, climbing up the bars so as to see only the sky and open ocean before her. This moment represents the complete freedom Rose has when she and Jack are together. She looks out into the world without limits; without any hindrances or disapproval. She finds independence without loneliness: Jack opens her eyes and in this moment, reveals the boundless future which lays before her. Therefore, Rose’s exclamation of flying does not only encapsulate the illusion she experiences in this moment. Her excited cry also represents her realization that she is no longer tied down by her money, nor her fiancé. She is now free to fly- to experience the world on her own terms, and to do so with the love of her life, Jack Dawson.
The third and last time that we see Jack and Rose at the bow of the ship is at the end of the film, as they slowly sink to their doom. Rose reminds Jack that this was the first place they met, creating a heightened feeling of melancholy and hope that they may survive this. It is in this very spot that Rose first met Jack, fell in love with Jack, and now must prepare to die with Jack. This chronology makes the “I’m flying!” scene all the more special: it was the peak of Jack and Rose’s love story. It was their very best moment together, after she tries to kill herself and before she faces an inevitable death. In this iconic scene, their love is fresh and new- it is simultaneously exciting, and sincere. Thus, it becomes the most memorable moment of the film.
There must be a reason we are still so in love with this specific scene. The thing is, romance is always relevant, making romantic films timeless. We live in a society that emphasizes love, and especially marriage for love. In the early 1900s (when titanic set sail), people mainly stayed within their social classes- picking partners based on wealth, title, and economic stability. To see a woman, like Rose, of high social status so willing to give up all that she has for true love, is the highest form of romance- and still rings true to people’s ideas of romance today. We are trained from birth through things like the media and romantic films, that we will one day meet our perfect match, and fall desperately in love. As a result, we all hope to discover this type of intense, intoxicating love as shown between Jack and Rose: a love where we are willing to drop anything and everything for our significant other, and they are eager to do the same for us. The “I’m flying!” scene provides us with a longing hope that our soul mate is somewhere out there- and to this day, we absolutely eat it up.