Fri
May 10 2013 4:30pm

The Great Gatsby is an Alternate Timeline Where Jack Survived Titanic

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

“...trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me long ago.”—Jay Gatsby

I’m sorry, but I think we have to discuss the elephant in the room here. While Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby looks gorgeous, and probably brings the novel to life in a wonderfully larger-than-life manner, at no point have I seen anyone discussing how Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby is obviously Jack from Titanic. And how the movie is obviously an alternate timeline where he survived the sinking of the ship and went on to build a life for himself in America in an attempt to reunite with Rose.

Not only that, but no one is discussing how this is the sixth Leonardo DiCaprio movie depicting an alternate timeline where Jack survived.

Take a peek at Leonardo DiCaprio’s film career and it becomes clear. The clues are all there. The sinking of the Titanic was a crucial turning point in history and the character of Jack is right at the center of it. He’s a chaotic figure. A man who was not supposed to be on the boat, who affects change in the lives of many others in a short period of time, and who lives on only in the memory of one woman after his death. He exists as a catalyst in the purest sense.

Jack, if that was even his real name, seemed fated to die on Titanic. But what if he hadn’t? When you look at Leonardo DiCaprio’s 21st century film career, it seems like he’s constantly trying to answer that question. Another movie, a new timeline, and still it seems that Jack never achieves his goal of reuniting with Rose and living happily ever after.

Although in each new timeline, it seems like Jack subconsciously learns how to do it a little better next time. Don’t let go, things are about to get a little creepy.

 

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Timeline 1: The Beach (2000)

DiCaprio’s first major film after Titanic sees him playing Richard, a wandering college-aged man looking for new experiences in life. (Pretty much Jack from Titanic with a case of the bored-nows.) He and a French couple, Francoise and Etienne, get word of a mysterious island commune and swim their way there. Being a secret island community, shenanigans naturally ensue. Richard falls in love with Francoise and the commune falls apart into anarchy, with Richard narrowly avoiding death.

At the end of the movie, he receives a message from Francoise. A picture of the community before it fell apart into chaos, with the words “Parallel universe. Love, Francoise.” written over it.

 

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Timeline 2: Catch Me If You Can (2002)

DiCaprio plays Frank Abagnale, a con man and famous check-forger trying to escape the poverty that he grew up within. “Frank” displays all of Jack’s character traits, he thinks on his feet, is charming to women, floats between social classes, and is good at getting out of seemingly impossible scrapes. “Frank” is obviously a man searching for something that he feels he needs to complete himself. In this timeline he never finds Rose but does, eventually, find happiness with another woman and a job literally tailor-made for his unique talents.

 

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Timeline 3: The Aviator (2004)

In this timeline, Jack’s desire to find Rose takes him to and keeps him in California, where he had always promised he would take her. He has no luck locating her on his own so he hatches a plan. Jack becomes “Howard Hughes,” a noticeable public figure innovating in a field that he knows will captivate Rose: flight.

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Jack, or “Howard,” forgets one important thing: Rose is disgusted by corporate games and high society. Suitably, she never reveals herself to Jack and as the years go on he becomes completely obsessive about preserving his health and monitoring women that he’s romantically interested in. These obsessions eventually cause him to waste away.

 

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Timeline 4: Revolutionary Road (2008)

A longshoreman Jack (again as “Frank”) runs into Rose, who now goes by the name “April,” at a party and the two finally reunite after so many failed timelines... The two are head over heels for each other, get married, and are looking forward to the adventures that will come. Their happy ending seems assured—until money woes rear their head. They have two kids and a house in suburban Connecticut to pay for, so Jack works at a factory and Rose gives up on being an actress to raise their family. Before they know it, their life together has become repetitive and hopeless.

A plan to start over in Paris is crushed by an unexpected third pregnancy and Jack’s decision to emotionally blackmail Rose once he finds out she is considering having the pregnancy terminated. Both of them have affairs and are vocally and physically abusive towards each other. Their romance has become something poisonous and dark.

Which is why, one morning, after Jack leaves for work, Rose tries to terminate her pregnancy by herself at home. The attempt kills her and Jack disappears with their kids.

 

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Timeline X: Inception (2010)

The first thing we see in the Inception timeline is Jack, now known as Cobb, emerging from a churning ocean. Has he just experienced the events of Titanic, or are those long distant? The film suggests that both are true and, further, that this Jack is one who has become unmoored enough in time that he is able to sense just how fragile his reality is. This is a Jack who is aware of the other timelines.

As Cobb, he specializes in delving into the subconscious mind, planting imagery and crafting scenarios in order to affect the actions of individuals. Aside from corporate espionage missions that he is regularly tasked with, Jack uses this ability to recreate his deceased wife, who committed suicide in part because of Jack’s actions, so they can live out the rest of their lives together.

They do so, but the guilt Jack feels eventually poisons this rebooted relationship, and Jack is forced to realize that he’s been living with his memory of his One True Love. That this is not the woman he met on Titanic all those years ago, and that he has to move on.

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Throughout the film, Jack relies on a spinning metal top as his totem, a representation of himself and of the real world. The top itself is shaped like a three-dimensional graph of all possible timelines that “spin” out of the events at the end of Titanic. The points at the two ends of the top are where the most unlikely timelines—and perhaps a way out of them—reside. The middle is where the most likely timelines pile atop each other. All of them similar in shape and form.

At the end of the movie, the top is spun one more time. We never see if it stops.

(Need an extra mindfuck? The Titanic cast off from Queenstown, Ireland, which in 1912 was more commonly known as the port town of Cobh.)

 

Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby alternate timeline Titanic The Beach Catch Me If You Can The Aviator Revolutionary Road Inception

Timeline 5: The Great Gatsby (2013)

In this narrative, The Great Gatsby could stand in as a timeline where Jack learns to stop pining for Rose and move on. He survives, builds himself into a party-going showman in the Jazz Age in hopes that Rose will one day appear, but ends up finding love with another woman, Daisy. (Although Daisy is similar to Rose in many respects, being an upper class woman who is also fleeing an abusive relationship and is also named after a flower.)

But perhaps that was the point of the main timeline, the one where Jack dies on Titanic, that the romance between the two of them is meant to be brief. That they’re not truly meant for each other past that point. Jack as J. Gatsby certainly heeds that advice.

Except then he drowns anyway.

The multiverse is cruel. Weird and cruel.


Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and...I dunno, man...maybe someone should talk to him.

40 comments
Christopher Morgan
1. cmorgan
So what your saying is, is that YOU are responsible for Bioshock infinite. There's always a man, there's always a girl, and there's always a tragedy.
Chris Lough
3. TorChris
@cmorgan. IS IT TOO LATE TO WORK BIOSHOCK INTO THIS ARTICLE???
Christopher Morgan
4. cmorgan
I'm sure you could. Hell, wasn't the Green Light a light house?
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
Might we call him Captain Jack then? It all fits.
Chris Lough
6. TorChris
If you can find a clip of Leo (or someone near him) saying "Would you kindly" I will totally. freak. out.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
lol--I was thinking Harkness, but that also.
Chris Lough
8. TorChris
@7. stevenhalter. Hmmmm. If we do that then we can include Gangs of New York! It's all falling into place....
Flint Timmins
9. Giovanotto
I think Shutter Island teaches us that Jack's experience on the Titanic was nothing more than a hallucination, aided by Dr. "Rose" to uncover the events of Jack's past.
AoifeF
10. AoifeF
Awesome article. I really need to see Gatsby.

I do have to nitpick this bit though: "The Titanic cast off from Queenstown, Ireland, which in 1912 was more commonly known as the port town of Cobh." It's the other way around; Queenstown was the British name for the port, which was gaelicised to Cobh after Irish independence.
Sandy Brewer
11. ShaggyBella
You have a great eye for detail and a good imagination. It does seem like Leo is always the same person, really fitting into the period pieces.
AoifeF
12. ravnos
You forgot the Shutter Island version.
AoifeF
13. CE Murphy
(whispers) I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but I've lived there, and the port was originally Cobh (which is pronounced "Cove", not "Cobb"), and in 1912 it was known as Queenstown, as it had been renamed in 1850 to commemmorate a visit by Queen Victoria. The name was changed back to the original Cobh in 1920. None of which detracts from the awesomeness of the article, but that just happened to be so perfectly backward I was seized by the horrible need to Correct Someone On The Internet. :)
AoifeF
14. malayna
Chris Lough, I think I love you! This is awesome! Thanks for writing it.
AoifeF
15. NiktheHeratik
Well played sir! If only the multiverse were more forgiving. But maybe the reality is that "Rose" is better off without "Jack".
Liz J
16. Ellisande
Pretty sure Kate Winslet has said that 'Revolution Road' is what would've happened if Jack had lived, so that's practically canon!
AoifeF
18. Driken
I was kinda hoping that you would include 'Blood Diamond' in this list. It could've been the universe where Jack becomes an amoral solider of fortune after realising Rose allowed him to die, despite the piece of wood she was floating on was big enough for the two of them.
Chris Meadows
19. Robotech_Master
This reminds me of how the movie De-Lovely takes place in the Doctor Who/Torchwood universe. (Cole seduces a young actor played by John Barrowman, whose name just happens to be "Jack". Guess he had to fill all that time waiting for the Doctor to show up again somehow!)
Dave Danevich
22. ddanevich
We can't forget about the Jack stuck in the Rev War times in Django. This was a primitive version of Jack, who clearly needed to learn some manners before he met Rose.
AoifeF
23. Jack_Dawson
What about my time on Shutter Island, where I had been detained because of my psychotic epidsode and inability to deal with driving Rose to death in Revolutionary Road.
AoifeF
24. pabkins
Oh jeez you creep me out with this! This is just so spot on! A few of those movies I haven't watched yet but now when I think back on the ones that I have I can totally see this!
Perfect shot with the glasses at the top starts off your argument on the best foot! *cackles madly*
John Graham
25. JohnPoint
This is brilliant. We can probably work all of Leo's career into the Titanic meta-theme, if we really think about it.

For instance, we have him in Rome + Juliet, where we see Jack post-Titanic try another way of breaking into Rose's social circles.

We also have Leo's early stint on Growing Pains, where he played (drum role please), a down-on-his-luck orphan, taken in by a rich family, who he later turns against. A young Jack methinks?
AoifeF
26. Sophia
What about The Departed? Jack -- the good, justice-seeking guy he is -- goes undercover to bring down crime boss, falls in love with the bad guy's woman (who becomes his only bright light), goes a bit crazy, and ends up dead. Whatever...love Leo's work.
Kay Kauffman
27. kaysielynn
This is just too freaking funny. Excuse me while I go watch all of these right.now. :D
AoifeF
28. saram
Actually, while watching Gatsby I noticed the resemblance between Jay and Jack (not obviously because they are played by the same man, but that blind optimism, that poor guy climbing to high class...)
AoifeF
29. cove
Cobh is pronounced like cove.
But other than that well done.
AoifeF
30. MochaJo42
Except the top wasn't Cobbs totem -- it was Mal's. Cobb's was his wedding ring.
AoifeF
32. Kristina1304
Dear all you who criticize, please read the book itself, "The Great Gatsby" (by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
AoifeF
33. chanters
What about what's eating Gilbert grape ? Where "jack" is the young brother of j. Depp who leaves him in a bath of cold water for a girl, here starting his anger towards girls, to run away from his family onto titanic, to trust a rich girl and fall in love and then her to screw him over, adding on to his the hate of girls, to escape and end up in new York, chasing a dream life with another girl, who also screws him over and finally dying in a swimming pool. Damn girls.
AoifeF
36. teia
I stumbled across this article because I was wondering if I had been the only one to notice the resemblence in Jay and Jack, even Romeo. Except he was rich, but from the wrong family. Still, maybe Leo is a little more like the characters he chooses to play. Great love & tragic endings.
AoifeF
37. Mary Toppo
Perhaps Leo only has the range to play one kind of character, although he does it well. Evidently, we all wish that Jack was the one who survived that night. Rose promises to never let go. Then she lets go. WTF. Then she uses the last of her strength (which she could have used to pull Jack up next to her, combining their body heat and saving them both) to save herself. I think the lesson is to not fall in love with a selfish person or they`'ll leave you to freeze in the North Atlantic.
AoifeF
38. Dantarez
L.O.L

(asuhashuas laughter)

Man
Really
Where you using your mind to write it? Or mine? lol
But seriously, that is really something we can think about, glad im not alone, specially becouse i have seen all those movies but Aviator in the chronological order, so that makes things easier to see dont you think?
But anyways
That is a nice discussion indeed and well, congratulations for wrinting it down, and reading my mind by doin so! LOL
Keep on!
AoifeF
42. SerenaTani
You forgave Shutter Island..Jack found from the sinking of the Titanic is sent to the scary island as he seems crazy, this could be a possible way too..
AoifeF
43. SerenaTani
And the green lights that remember's him something may be the separation line of the island..
AoifeF
44. Irrelevant
Load of bollocks. I'll never get those few minutes of my life back.
AoifeF
47. Impressive
As a reference to "Blood Diamond", in "The Great Gatsby" Leonardo talks about having a past working with diamonds.
When I noticed it at first I immediately thought of "Blood Diamond".
I really like this "story" that DiCaprio includes in every movie he's in.
AoifeF
48. Katalia
I understand that you guys don't want Jack to die at the end of Titanic, but Jesus. Do you have to corrupt a movie that is not canonically tied to anything else?

Guys, these characters are similar because that's Leo's 'Type'. a fun-loving, romantic ladies' man.

These characters were made this way in the books or by the directors and Leo was chosen because it's his type. I'm sorry to rain on your parade, and I agree your theory is well thought out. But this isn't like the Pixar Theory! This has not been canonically connected by each director like the Pixar movies with the Pixar theory.

It doesn't work this way.
AoifeF
49. Realist
How messed up and yet piled up d mind is!!!! Leo, kate, titanic and every other movie dicaprio has been in??????? *slow laff*

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