Rose DeWitt Bukater (1895 — 1997) is the fictional heroine of James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster Titanic. She was played by British actress Kate Winslet, and the 101-year-old Rose was played by 1930s film star Gloria Stuart.
Both actresses were nominated for Academy Awards, Winslet for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Stuart for Best Supporting Actress nomination, becoming the oldest person to receive an acting nomination (she was 86 when she appeared in the film). This was
the first time two actresses had been Oscar-nominated for playing the same character.
Beatrice Wood, who was 105 years old when the film was released, served as a partial inspiration for the character of Rose.
Seventeen-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater is on a transatlantic journey aboard the RMS Titanic, from Southampton, England to New York City to marry young business tycoon Caledon Hockley, a man she does not love, merely so that her mother, society matron Ruth DeWitt Bukater, may become wealthy again. As a token
of his devotion, Caledon presents her with a huge diamond called "The Heart of the Ocean", which Rose sees as a symbol of her oppression. Feeling pushed into a marriage she does not
want, and stifled by the restrictions of upper class society, she tries committing suicide by jumping off the back of the Titanic. However, a friendly young tramp, Jack Dawson, saves her, and eventually they fall deeply in love.
Despite the restrictions onboard ship segregating the First and Third Class passengers, Rose enjoys several rendezvous
with Jack over the next day or so, openly defying her mother and Caledon. On what would be her final night aboard the Titanic,
she asks Jack — a gifted artist — to sketch a picture of her, nude and wearing the Heart of the Ocean. After narrowly
escaping from Caledon's bodyguard, Spicer Lovejoy, Rose and Jack take refuge in the baggage area deep within the Titanic, where they make love in the backseat of an
automobile stored there. (A deleted scene from the film strongly suggests she was a virgin though this is only indicated by Caledon,
and so may not actually be true. There really was an automobile, a 1908 Renault, in the cargo hold of the Titanic.)
Soon after, the Titanic hits an iceberg and begins to sink. The second half of the film is crucial to Rose's character:
It shows her standing up to her mother and her fiancÚ Caledon Hockley, and risking all to save Jack from the icy bowels of the ship (Jack having been left to drown belowdecks as the ship's brig
starts to flood). After the ship finally goes under, she and Jack cling onto driftwood in hopes of being rescued, and Jack
insists that Rose promise she will survive. Some time later she is alerted by a lone returning lifeboat. She attempts to awaken
Jack but discovers that he has succumbed to the cold and died. Heartbroken, she retrieves a nearby whistle and blows it for
help, and the lifeboat comes back for her. After arriving in New York, she is believed to be dead by her family and Caledon,
and she adopts the name Rose Dawson.
Rose lives the rest of her life doing the things that she and Jack talked about doing, like riding horses in Santa Monica, California and becoming a motion picture actress. Eventually, she marries and moves to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and starts a family. She later revealed that Caledon committed suicide after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. (To view some of the film's photos featuring Rose's post-Titanic life, go to: rosedawson.com.)
In 1996, when she is 101 and living with her granddaughter, Lizzy Calvert, the portrait Jack sketched of her is discovered
in the wreck of the Titanic. After contacting the recovery crew, Rose is invited (somewhat skeptically) to go out to
the scene, where a search has been underway for the Heart of the Ocean. She tells them her story of having survived the wreck.
That night, she walks to the back of the salvage ship and removes the Heart of the Ocean from her pocket. Long since thought
to have gone down with the ship, the diamond was actually carried off the vessel by Rose, who didn't realize its presence
until reaching New York City. She throws the diamond into the water, returning it to its proper resting place. (An alternate version of this scene was
shot in which the head of the salvage team tries to convince her not to throw the diamond overboard, but ultimately she does
anyway. This version is included on the 2005 DVD release.)
Later, Rose is seen lying peacefully in her bed with pictures of her life beside her. Images appear of her, young again,
back on the Titanic. Doors are opened for her as she enters the Grand Staircase, and she walks up the stairs, surrounded
by other passengers. Jack is waiting, and turns and takes her hand; they kiss and the passengers applaud heartily. The film
intentionally leaves it ambiguous as to whether this is a dream, or Rose has passed away.
↑ It is disputed as to whether director James Cameron intended that the final scene beginning with Rose lying in bed was depicting her recent death, or deep sleep. On the 2005-released DVD, Cameron comments that he did have in mind one of those options, but that he will never reveal which one is
the truth. It is assumed by many, however, that Rose in the end dies quietly in her sleep, fulfilling the promise she made
to Jack that she would survive the sinking and die a very old woman, warm in her bed. Also related to this interpretation
is the fact that many of the passengers awaiting her in her vision are those who were seen perishing during the ship's sinking.