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February 9, 2023

Breaking Down Titanic Using Save the Cat

Titanic is an epic motion picture film by James Cameron about the real-life and ill-fated ship so named because it was thought to be unsinkable. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as two star-crossed lovers from different backgrounds brought together on the night the ship sank on April 15th, 1912.

Hugley successful, it is the only film to gross more than $2 billion after Cameron’s other masterpiece Avatar.

Let’s break down what the film is all about as well as the plot of the movie Titanic using the Save the Cat methodology.

What is Titanic all about?

The 1997 James Cameron film Titanic follows the story of a young, upper-class woman named Rose DeWitt Bukater (played by Kate Winslet). She is engaged to the wealthy Cal Hockley (played by Billy Zane). Rose is unhappy with her life and feels trapped by her engagement to Cal, who is controlling and abusive towards her.

When an iceberg strikes the Titanic tragedy ensues as the famous ocean liner sinks into the freezing night without enough lifeboats to accommodate the passengers.

Jack and Rose standing aboard the deck of the Titanic looking out towards the ocean. Rose has her arms outstretched
The doomed Titanic serves as a backdrop to an epic love story

What are the main themes in Titanic?

The main themes of the film include love, class conflict, and tragedy. The film explores the relationship between Jack and Rose, how they come from different social classes and how this affects their relationship.

The film also explores the theme of tragedy, as the Titanic ultimately sinks after hitting an iceberg, leading to the loss of many lives.

Characters in Titanic

Let’s summarize the main characters in Titanic.

Jack Dawson

Jack is a young artist and a third-class passenger on the Titanic. He wins tickets for the voyage in a card game and decides to leave his former life behind. Jack falls in love with Rose, a wealthy society woman, and their relationship is a key focus of the film.

Rose DeWitt Bukater

Rose is a wealthy society woman and a first-class passenger on the Titanic. She is engaged to Cal Hockley, a wealthy and abusive man, but falls in love with Jack during the voyage. Rose ultimately decides to leave her old life behind and start a new one with Jack.

Cal Hockley

Cal is a wealthy and abusive man who is engaged to Rose. He is jealous of Rose's relationship with Jack and tries to keep them apart.

Molly Brown

Molly is a wealthy socialite and a first-class passenger on the Titanic. She befriends Jack and Rose and helps them during their time on the ship.

Breaking down the plot of the movie Titanic Using Save the Cat

Let’s Break Down Titanic Using Save the Cat. If you’re not familiar with this be sure to check out our blog on it here.

Opening image

In the opening scene of the film, known as the "Opening Image," we see Rose standing at the bow of the ship, looking out at the ocean. This sets the stage for the film's themes of freedom and escape.

Theme stated

The "Theme Stated" moment occurs when Rose's mother tells her that she must marry Cal in order to maintain their social status. This introduces the film's central conflict: Rose's desire to break free from the expectations and constraints of her society and find her own path in life.

Set up

The "Set-Up" of the film establishes the characters and their relationships, as well as the historical context of the Titanic's voyage. We see Rose's strained relationship with Cal, as well as her friendship with Cal's servant, Lovejoy (played by David Warner). We also meet Jack Dawson (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), a poor artist who won his ticket to the Titanic in a card game.


The "Catalyst" of the film occurs when Rose attempts to commit suicide by jumping off the ship, only to be saved by Jack. This event brings Rose and Jack together and sets in motion the romance that drives the rest of the film.

Jack and Rose holding each other and looking scared as they realise the ship is sinking
Jack and Rose (DiCapro and Winslet) are two ill fated lovers from distinct classes


The "Debate" phase of the film follows the developing relationship between Rose and Jack, as they fall in love and struggle with the social and class differences that stand between them. Cal and Lovejoy also plot to keep Rose and Jack apart, adding further conflict to the story.

Break into two

The "Break into Two" moment occurs when the Titanic hits an iceberg and begins to sink. This event marks the turning point of the film and separates the characters into two groups: those who are able to escape on the lifeboats, and those who are left behind on the sinking ship.


The "B story" of the film is the love story between Rose and Jack, which is interwoven with the main plot of the Titanic's sinking.

Fun and games

The "Fun and Games" portion of the film follows Jack and Rose as they explore the ship and fall in love, while the "Midpoint" occurs when Jack and Rose spend the night together in the first-class dining room.

Bad guys close in

The "Bad Guys Close In" phase of the film sees the Titanic's situation becoming increasingly dire as the ship continues to sink. Cal and Lovejoy's efforts to keep Rose and Jack apart become more desperate, and the tension between the two groups of characters reaches its peak.

All is lost

The "All Is Lost" moment occurs when Jack, who has been locked in the ship's cargo hold, is unable to escape as the ship goes down. This marks the lowest point for the characters and the film.

Dark night of the soul

The "Dark Night of the Soul" follows as Rose, who has been rescued by a lifeboat, believes that Jack has drowned. She is devastated and feels as if she has lost everything.

Break into three

The "Break into Three" occurs when Rose, now an elderly woman (played by Gloria Stuart), decides to return to the site of the Titanic's sinking in a submarine now the wreckage has been found. This marks the beginning of the film's resolution.


The "Finale" sees Rose finally finding the freedom and happiness that she has been seeking throughout the film. She reunites with Jack in a dream-like sequence and says goodbye to him, finally finding closure and moving on with her life.

What can we learn from theTitanic movie plot structure?

The plot of the movie Titanic is a great example of a tragedy. The historical backdrop heightens the drama and intensifies the relationships between the characters.

We as an audience know how this night is going to end whilst the characters don’t. Think about how you can convey foreshadowing in your film.

Although we all know what happened to the Titanic, Cameron brings the drama to life by approaching it from a new angle. The Titanic is just a convenient setting for a romantic drama.

What historical settings can you reinvent with a fresh perspective or angle?

Don’t forget if you need help with formatting and plotting Arc Studio has your back. Be sure to download it here.


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Breaking Down Titanic Using Save the Cat
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

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