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Is Titanic based on a true story?

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Titanic, it's time to take a look at just how accurate the movie is and how closely it ties to the true story.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic

Is Titanic based on a true story? The James Cameron movie turns 25 this year, and while it’s fun to celebrate the fact it’s one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, it’s worth remembering we are dealing with a tragic story, too.

Titanic details the blossoming romance of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) a mysterious and wealthy aristocrat, who falls in love with Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), a lowly artist. The pair are on board the doomed RMS Titanic and spend the entirety of the disaster movie falling for one another while coming to terms with their heartbreaking fate.

So, how much of Titanic is based on a true story and how much is purely from the mind of James Cameron? Well, we’re here to highlight exactly what happened to the real ship and separate fact from fiction.

Is Titanic based on a true story?

Technically, yes, Titanic is based on a true story as there was a ship called the RMS Titanic which sunk on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg back in 1912.

The ship set sail from Southampton on April 10, 1912, but would sink before it reached its destination of New York City. The huge vessel hit an iceberg on April 14 after a warning message was not relayed to the bridge of the Titanic.

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When word did finally reach, it was too late and the collision was unavoidable. Of the some 2,200 people on board, it is estimated 1,500 died on that fateful voyage.

However, the Hollywood version of the story naturally adds plenty of embellishments to the story to make it a more narrative-driven drama movie for the big screen.

For example, Jack Dawson and Rose Dewitt Bukater, the two lovers at the heart of the romance movie, are not based on real passengers of the Titanic, or real people at all for that matter.

Kate Winslet as Rose Dewitt Butaker in Titanic

Also, the necklace Rose wears, called the Heart of the Ocean, is not based on a real artefact either. The 56-carat blue diamond is said to be originally owned by Louis XVI, before being recut upon his execution and eventually finding its way into Rose’s possession. This is all made up though, and the trinket is a purely fictional plot device.

Or is it? Well, who are we to say whether there isn’t a legendary royal heirloom floating around the world. For all we know, Titanic could be a secret time travel movie, too, but that’s a different story.

For more on James Cameron’s work, check out our Avatar 2 review or look ahead to his new movie with our guide to the Avatar 3 release date.