Welcome to part II of my series on fierce film heroines. If you missed part I, which probably happened since I wrote it more than two years ago (oops!), just hop over to HERE. At some point, I’ll probably add more ladies to this list like Ripley from Alien and Dr. Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park, but today, we’re talking about the gal who defied her uppity mom and horrible fiancé to run around “the ship of dreams” with a gorgeously hot third-class passenger named Leonardo DiCaprio, erm, Jack Dawson. It’s Titanic time and Rose’s turn.
Rose DeWitt Bukater
- Our first glimpse of Rose is actually of her amazing violet hat and her getting out of what I assume is probably a Ford circa 1912.
We see her raise her head and then BAM! Kate Winslet’s gorgeous face appears beneath the hat. Then she acts all unimpressed with the Titanic like it’s not about to be the ship where she has the greatest sex of her life following the greatest nude portrait session of her life with a dreamboat steerage passenger. “It doesn’t LOOK any bigger than the Moritania.” Obviously, Rose has already learned the importance of Say Something Hat Day and how a good chapeau can influence your entire outlook on life.
Either way, her nonchalance and sass is not something I can replicate with any authenticity.
- Rose meets Jack during a suicide attempt. Like, GREAT STORY to tell your grandkids, Rose. “I met the love of my life before I was about to throw myself into the ship propellers.” #dramaqueen much?
But actually, if she hadn’t had a moment during dinner and then almost jumped off, Jack might never have walked over to her and been all “you jump, I jump” which is basically the best pickup line no man has ever said to me and probably never will (but I can dream, right?). I’m not condoning Rose’s original death wish of a plan, but I AM saying that what I got from this situation is that if I do something bold and possibly crazy, Leonardo DiCaprio might start up a casual conversation with me. Or the more likely scenario, which is that he files a restraining order.
- This: “Do you know of Dr. Freud, Mr. Ismay? His ideas about the male preoccupation with size might be of particular interest to you.”
GREATEST. DINNER PUTDOWN. EVER. Ladies, THIS is the way you classily attack a man’s unmentionables during an elegant dinner (possibly held on a luxury ocean liner). Rose could probably go toe-to-toe with Lady Mary in terms of brilliant snide remarks.
- Jack teaches Rose how to “spit like a man.” This is about the only thing we mere mortals could possibly do reasonably as well as Rose.
Sure, it’s a little disgusting and undignified, but in comparison with how you probably spent your Saturday nights (alllllllll the struggles), this is pretty tame stuff. And according to Jack/Leo, it’s just all about technique anyway (I feel like there’s a reaaaaaally dirty joke in there somewhere, but I’ll let this one be for now).
- Rose gets drunk and then does pointe in just her stocking feet in third class (which is OBVIOUSLY where the REAL party is; I mean, arm wrestling in that time period is like beer pong now). Rose, all cocky and confident, asks, “You think you’re big, tough men?”
Having studied pointe for six years, I can tell you that this would hurt more than any situation in the Final Destination films (none of which I’ve seen, because I’m not interested in ridiculous death wishes or really inane “horror” movies with thin plotlines). My toes bled even WITH padding, lamb’s wool, and the occasional paper towel stuffed into the toe box.
At my drunkest, I have attempted many feats to impress boys at parties, but none of them have involved doing pointework without pointe shoes (though I might have once attempted doing “Thriller”). Bravo, Rose. You have feet of steel.
- Rose only has to pay 10 cents for a nude portrait drawn by Leonardo DiCaprio, erm Jack, “wearing this…wearing ONLY this.” Um, seriously impressive seduction technique for a friggin 17 year old not to mention she seems confident and content with her body.
When I was 17, I was pretty much the opposite of smooth unless you count me playing saxophone for jazz band (among also being in marching band and playing oboe as my regular instrument). If you know me at all, you know I have been harboring an intense crush on Mr. DiCaprio since I was seven years old and have thought out many seduction tactics, but I’m 98% sure if I approached him only wearing a bathrobe and a fancy necklace and then dropped trou in front of him, I’d be slapped with a restraining order (I’m sensing a theme).
- Rose wields an axe after nearly being electrocuted from swimming through the flooded, dark third class hallways and successfully frees Jack from his handcuffs.
Her “practice swings” are, I think we can all agree, pretty disheartening, but because she is Rose FREAKING DeWitt Bukater and destined to be with Jack (at least for the next twenty-ish minutes until he dies), she obviously frees him without scarily chopping off his hands on her FIRST TRY. I have never used an axe, but I DO have pretty boss table saw skills from taking stagecraft lab in college, so I guess that’s something. However, I’ll leave the brawniness to Rose and the handsome guy in flannel on the paper towel logos (and in selected neighborhoods of Brooklyn/Portland) and just stick to the brains part.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Man
Ladies and gays, I think the most important thing we can learn from our dear, fiery Rose, is the importance of choosing the correct life partner. At the beginning of the film, she’s engaged to handsome Cal Hockley,
who makes his money in steel and has gobs and gobs of it (enough to buy a bunch of really famous pieces of art AND a diamond that is more ostentatious and obnoxious than the Kimye wedding).
As we come to find out, this is going to be a marriage of convenience rather than love since Rose and her mother are basically bankrupt.
But it’s pretty obvious Rose doesn’t love the guy (even though Billy Zane’s hair has literally NEVER looked better) not to mention he’s got a temper worse than Alec Baldwin and the table-flipping skills of a Real Housewife of New Jersey. He’s also majorly controlling and has questionable ethics (pretending to have a child to get in a lifeboat…”I HAVE A CHILD!” much?).
If she stayed with him, Rose would likely find herself in a verbally and physically abusive relationship especially since he full out slapped her in the face aka NOT OKAY.
So it’s pretty awesome when she spits in Cal’s face and picks Jack Dawson for a lifetime of love rather than money…ESPECIALLY in 1912.
Jack is willing to risk his life for her, he challenges her in good ways, he doesn’t want to squash her independent spirit, and he loves her for exactly who she is. Ladies and gays, THIS is the kind of man you should seek out. Now I’m not saying you should take up with the first guy who teaches you to “spit like a man” and has sweaty car sex with you in the boiler room of a luxurious ship, but be on the lookout for a guy who cherishes you rather than seeks to buy your affections so he can control you.
Now, if he happens to cherish you AND have the money to buy you a blue diamond worth a gazillion dollars, then you really have hit the jackpot of life-mates, and I envy you and your accessories collection.
So where were we?
- Rose loses Jack to the icy depths of the ocean, swims in the freezing ass water to blow a dead man’s whistle to get a lifeboat to come back
and FINALLY makes it back to America where she tells customs her name is actually “Dawson, Rose Dawson”
BECAUSE SHE’LL NEVER LET GO (even though, okay, technically she DID let go of Jack’s hand to save herself but whatever) and TRUE LOVE. And if you aren’t crying by this point, you are probably a robot named Caledon Hockley. Anyway, Rose is a fighter, and I’d like to think at some point after all her rollercoaster riding and plane flying (Kate Winslet, you better WERK that aviatrix costume), she went to North Carolina and founded a town called Dawson’s Creek, because she was full of feelings and so are all the people in that town (specifically young adults) according to the WB in the late 1990s.
- AND THEN WE FIND OUT THAT SOMEHOW, MIRACULOUSLY, SHE STILL HAS THE HEART OF THE OCEAN. And by “miraculously,” I mean “movie-magic” because it’s a necessary and emotional plot point that needs tying up. And now that Rose has essentially told Bill Paxton and his merry band of sea treasure hunters her entire secret life and sex history,
she must die a poetic death after throwing her “heart” back into the ocean (eh? See what I did there?). And thus, she goes to “heaven,” which for her is the prettier parts of the Titanic where Leo is waiting to make out with her,
and clearly, Rose has been reading my thoughts, because oddly enough, that is exactly what heaven looks like to me too. But also with pizza and burritos that don’t make you fat.
So, in conclusion, I think we can all agree that Rose DeWitt Bukater Dawson is a lady worth our admiration and respect. She blazed those trails one giant iceberg at a time and lived life on her own terms. Everything’s coming up roses…this time, for her!