In 1996, treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team are searching the wreck of RMS Titanic for a necklace with a rare diamond, the Heart of the Ocean. They recover a safe and find inside a drawing of a nude woman wearing only the necklace. The drawing is dated April 14, 1912, the day the Titanic hit the iceberg. An elderly woman calling herself Rose Dawson Calvert and claiming to be the person in the drawing visits Lovett aboard the research vessel Keldysh and tells of her experiences as a passenger on the Titanic.
It is 1912 in Southampton, and 17-year-old first-class passenger Rose DeWitt Bukater, her fiancé Caledon "Cal" Hockley, and her mother Ruth DeWitt Bukater are boarding the Titanic. Ruth emphasizes the importance of Rose's engagement; the marriage will resolve the DeWitt Bukaters' secret financial problems. Made distraught by the engagement, Rose considers committing suicide by jumping off the ship's stern; Jack Dawson, a penniless artist, intervenes and convinces her not to jump. Discovered with Jack, Rose tells Cal she was looking over the edge and Jack saved her from falling. Cal is at first indifferent to Jack's actions, but when Rose indicates that some recognition is due, Cal offers Jack a small amount of money. After Rose mocks Cal by asking if saving her life meant so little, he invites Jack to dine with them in first class the following night. Jack and Rose develop a tentative friendship, even though Cal and Ruth are wary of the young third-class passenger. Following the dinner, Rose secretly joins Jack at a party in third-class.
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