DOM: The Terminator (Cameron, US, 1984)

It seems a bit ironic that I have been knocking Cameron before but then come back (see ‘Saving Private Ryan’) to one of his films. Now I know this is going to sound odd, but outside of “The Empire Strikes Back” this is probably my favourite Sci-Fi film of the 1980s (I know what you are going to say – “Blade Runner” – but I’ve tried to like it, really I have, but to me it is just an OK film made into something else by critics trying to make a name for themselves, “The Directors Cut” was better and “The Final Cut” was better still, but I have seen them all once each and that is my job done, well that’s enough of the B Movie, let’s get back to the main feature!)

Basically James Cameron does best at remaking other peoples films with better special effects (Piranha 2, basically Piranha with better special effects, Aliens, basically Alien with better special effects, Terminator 2, basically The Terminator with better special effects, Titanic, basically A Night To Remember with better special effects, True Lies, basically some French film with better special effects, Avatar, basically Father Abraham & The Smurfs with better special effects, you get the picture.) and The Terminator is no different borrowing it’s plot from on old “Outer Limits” episode called “Soldier” in which a soldier from the future is sent back in time to kill someone, a plot borrowed also for the Doctor Who story “Day Of The Daleks”. In this version a cyborg known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) before she gives birth to John Connor who will save the human race after a nuclear war, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent back in time too by John Connor to protect his mother and kill the Terminator.

After the 60s had passed the WWIII stage, it did seem that during the 1980s the Nuclear threat had become more apparent again with people camping out at Greenham Common and The Cold War almost freezing with Reagan now on track with his “Star Wars” program. In the UK, the BBC broadcast a play called “Threads” which told of the horrors of Nuclear attack on Sheffield, once seen, never forgotten.

This was quite a low budget film for Orion (who went bust soon after Oscar glory with “The Silence Of The Lambs”) of just over $6million, it went on to gross $78 million at the box office and helped solidify Schwarzenegger’s career and make James Cameron’s.

When I first started reading “Empire” they had been raving on about the filming of  “Terminator 2 – Judgement Day” and how it had become the most expensive film ever made (something that James Cameron has eclipsed twice since then) and settled down to watch “The Terminator” on BBC-1, I was hooked from the very start, the brilliant score from Brad Fiedel and opening titles. I was shocked by Arnie’s lack of lines, but all are memorable (“Give me your clothes”, “I’ll be back”). It was cut on BBC-1, by a couple of minutes, I waited a couple of years to catch up with it uncut in BBC-2’s “Filmworks” season introduced by Robert McKee. A season of films that went out on Sunday’s and included “Chinatown” and “Annie Hall”, then they abandoned the season half way through. “Sullivan’s Travels” was shown in a morning during the week and I am still waiting for Antonioni’s “The Red Desert” to be shown, but was glad “The Terminator” was in such esteemed company.

It is the first of James Cameron’s films in which he put a powerful woman up against something not human (The Terminator here, Sigourney Weaver against the Aliens, Kate Winslet against Titanic etc)

I never saw T2 at the cinema, as I was on holiday when it came out, so caught up with it on a pirate video, never again, it was an awful copy and so has blighted my opinion of it and perhaps why I still prefer The Terminator .

3 responses to “DOM: The Terminator (Cameron, US, 1984)

  1. Pingback: CHRIS: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Cameron, US, 1991) « Dirk Malcolm's World of Film·

  2. Pingback: DIRK’S FILMSCHOOL: POINT OF VIEW | The Dirk Malcolm Alternative·

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