James Cameron’s Titanic is one of the most successful films of all time. It’s not only one of the highest grossing films in box office history, but it also earned 14 Oscar nominations and 11 wins, including Best Picture, and it’s also famous for the cutting-edge special effects Cameron developed to bring this story to life.  But for all of the film’s spectacular set pieces, attention to detail, and special effects, its popularity endures because of the compelling characters, tightly structured plot, and emotional themes.   

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Titanic Screenplay PDF Download

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Written by James Cameron

James Cameron is a writer, director, and producer famous for multiple record-breaking and award-winning films. In addition to his commercial and critical success, Cameron is also known for developing innovative technologies and special effects to bring his stories to life. His career took off after writing and directing The Terminator, and his other notable films include Aliens, Terminator II: Judgement Day, True Lies, and the Avatar franchise.  



Here is the story structure for the Titanic screenplay:


A team of treasure hunters search for a priceless necklace on the wreckage. Instead, they uncover a drawing of a woman wearing the necklace dated the night the ship sank.   

Inciting Incident

The drawing is featured on the news and attracts the attention of an old woman named Rose. She calls the treasurer hunters and tells them she’s the woman in the drawing and knows about the necklace. 

Plot Point One

Rose tells her story of boarding the Titanic with her controlling fiancé Cal and realizing she doesn’t want a life with him. She decides to jump off the ship but is saved by Jack Dawson, a poor artist.    

Rising Action

Rose and Jack spend more time together and begin to fall in love, but her mother and fiancé increasingly try to keep them apart. 


Rose decides to leave her fiancé and commits herself to Jack. She asks Jack to draw her wearing the necklace and leaves the drawing, the necklace, and a note for Cal on the same night the Titanic strikes the iceberg.    

Plot Point Two

Cal discovers Rose’s betrayal and decides to frame Jack for stealing the necklace. Jack is arrested and detained below deck as the ship begins to sink.   

Build Up

Rose braves the terrors of the sinking ship and its desperate passengers to rescue Jack. He convinces her to get on a lifeboat for safety, but she realizes she cannot leave him and jumps back on board to be with him. 


Free from Cal and his henchmen's threat, Rose and Jack must still survive the sinking ship as it breaks apart and plunges into the ocean. They fight other passengers and then the ice-cold waters for safety.  


By the time help comes, Jack has died and Rose lets him go. She vows to never forget the important life lessons he taught her, which she shares with the treasure hunters before she too dies and joins him in the afterlife. 

Titanic Script Takeaway #1

Titanic Characters

One difficulty James Cameron faced in telling a story about the Titanic was that everyone knew the ship sank because it was based on a true event. Cameron needed another story device to hook his audience’s attention and keep them engaged, and he did this by creating two compelling characters and making people invest in their relationship.

Rose is introduced as a willful young woman who's being forced to marry a cold, controlling man because her family needs money. The beginning of the script carefully sets up how deeply unhappy Rose is with this life. We uploaded the script for the movie Titanic into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software to take a closer look at how her story unfolds. 

Titanic Character Set Up  •  Read Full Scene

In a voice-over, she explains that “it was the ship of dreams . . . to everyone else. To me, it was a slave ship, taking me back to America in chains. Outwardly, I was everything a well-brought-up girl should be. Inside, I was screaming.” 

The script illustrates why she feels this way by showing how both her mother and fiancé Cal, constantly criticize and control her in the scene above.  

At the end of the first act, Rose reaches a breaking point when she runs to the back of the ship to throw herself over. Here, she meets Jack, a poor artist who sees her pain and wants to help her. 

Titanic  •  Rose and Jack Meet scene

This scene not only sets up a character relationship the audience can invest in, but it also sets up some of the film's most iconic lines, including “You jump, I jump, remember?” and “I’ll never let go.” 

Titanic Script Takeaway #2

Titanic Structure 

Another challenge Cameron faced in writing the Titanic screenplay was weaving together the story’s two timelines. He uses the Heart of the Ocean necklace as a central story thread, and this plot device works similarly to a McGuffin in uniting the different characters and their motivations in the film. 

Titanic  •  The Necklace

Lovett and the treasure hunters are motivated to find it in the wreckage of the ship in the present timeline because of its incredible value, and it is only because of their search that Rose comes forward to tell her story. 

When Lovett discovers the drawing, he remarks, “I’ll be God damned.” When the drawing is later featured on the news, Old Rose says the exact same line, creating a parallel between the separate story threads. 

In Rose’s story, the necklace symbolizes the life she doesn’t want and the control Cal wants to have over her. This is illustrated when he gives the necklace to her. 

Titanic  •  Necklace Symbolism  •  Read Full Scene

Cal makes it clear he expects things from Rose for this gift, and she reveals that it feels like a “collar” tying her to him.   

The necklace remains an important symbol throughout the film. Rose asks Jack to draw her wearing it as her parting gift to Cal, leaving a note that says, “Now you can keep us both locked in a safe.” Cal then uses the necklace to frame Jack for a robbery that gets him arrested while the ship sinks. 

While the story in Titanic is never about the Heart of the Ocean necklace, it works as a plot device that brings all the characters together and unifies the plot of the film. 

Titanic Script Takeaway #3

Titanic Ending 

James Cameron’s film was popular for many reasons, but one of the reasons it has remained popular is because of the compelling themes

At the center of the story is Rose’s coming of age journey as she finds love and courage, and the completion of her character arc is revealed through key actions and dialogue. Her commitment to Jack is symbolized through the line set up the night they first met. 

Titanic  •  You Jump, I Jump

“You jump, I jump, remember?” recalls the first night they met on the back of the ship. Similarly, once in the icy cold water, Jack makes Rose promise him she won’t let go.    

Titanic  •  I’ll Never Let Go  •  Read Full Scene

These lines are layered with meaning as they all call back to the promise Jack made to her when he pulled her from the stern of the ship, but they also add thematic weight because they bring everything full circle. 

Rose literally has to let go of Jack, she doesn’t have to let go of the life lessons he taught her, and her commitment to these lessons is demonstrated in the final scenes of the film, where she shares her story with the treasure hunters and reveals the full life she lived. 

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Titanic is famous for the spectacular set design, attention to detail, and special effects about the historic ship, but Cameron wouldn’t have been able to bring any of that to life without an incredible script. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like 12 Angry Man, Citizen Kane, and The Departed in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.

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