Welcome to The Terminator Series! To celebrate the release of Paramount’s Terminator Genisys, FilmMunch is taking a look back a how the franchise started. Enjoy!
The Terminator’s look/apparel was inspired by Mad Max 2, according to director James Cameron. When you look at Max and compare it with what Arnie wears, in The Terminator, it’s rather similar. This point highlights how films affect other films, and subsequently culture. It is my honest belief that The Terminator is a cornerstone in the action and science fiction genres. The Terminator has had a profound influence on what cinema has evolved into and pop culture, in general. The Terminator is a strong beginning to the saga!
For James Cameron, The Terminator was basically his first feature. He’d worked on a short and another B-movie leading up to 1984. The Terminator was his pet project, and although he’d received offers for the film script, he was adamant that he direct this film, and aren’t we glad he did! Interestingly he intended this film to play as a horror film, but even though you can feel traces of that, as we watch it, the film is action and most certainly sci-fi. The Terminator is definitely a ride, along with some great and tense action sequences. It also has it’s moments of shock, keeping you at the edge of your seat! No doubt there is a great story here, and James Cameron does the best he can, to tell it.
Because The Terminator was considered a gamble, since James Cameron was new to the game, the budget for this film is not very large at all. Cameron had limited resources and his original idea took place in the future. So as to afford the project, the future was brought to the present, and it was this, that brought to life the concept of time travel, in the film. It’s worth noting that back in 1984 there wasn’t a great deal of time travel films, it’s almost as if the popularity of The Terminator initiated a real spike in the said genre. Not long after, Back To The Future was born, in which a number of reference exist to The Terminator film, as a nod. Again this illustrates how films affect films, and it’s essential as FIlmMunchers to look back at what came before.
When you watch The Terminator, you know that you are back in the 80’s, from the hair-styles, the synth-pop music and the cheesiness of it all. Today, along with the originally intended humour relief moments, these 80’s trademark moments add to the iconic value of this film. This is another benefit of going back to enjoy these classics, it’s almost like jumping in a time machine and getting to enjoy the past, without the hassles of having a ‘terminator’ after you, of course! So yes, i’m saying it, The Terminator has it’s cheesy moments, but it’s an instance of were the cheesy is good, and welcome.
When we look at what James Cameron has achieved with film and his desire to use technology to the full, in film making, he is now, truly, considered a legend. The Terminator was his beginning. And even at this point, he had an idea that wouldn’t work, because the technology hadn’t caught up yet. His idea would eventually come to life in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. So what technology was available to him at the time, he did use. Animatronics plays a large part in this film, and so does stop-animation. It looks poor by todays standards, but horray to James Cameron in doing his best to produce his dream film. The construction of the T-800 machine represents an innovative moment in cinema.
The Terminator has a captivating story and even more captivating terminating machine. James Cameron told Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he was arguing about what role he wanted to play, that this film ‘is not about the hero, it’s about The Terminator.’ See, Arnie wanted to play Kyle Reese. But, the role of The Terminator is best suited for Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is so convincing as a machine, his walk, his talk and even the way he handles guns. Arnie, once he started to see James Cameron’s vision, really dedicated himself to the role. Apparently even outside of the set, he chose not to get close to Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) and Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese) because he didn’t want to form any connection with them, since he is their enemy in the film. It was also Arnie’s idea that The Terminator have no eyebrows, this really makes him look freaky. He also spent weeks practicing how to use guns. He got so good that the magazine Soldier of Fortune complimented Arnie for his realistic use of firearms. Typically that magazine would criticise films for their non-realistic use of firearms. Clearly there is no other Terminator, and Arnie was destined to play the part. Arnold Schwarzenegger was born to play The Terminator!
Cameron had zero expectations that this film would be successful. Not only was it well received by critics at the time, but it experienced great box office success. Today, we all know that iconic line, “I’LL BE BACK.” So if you’ve heard this line before, and it does get used so often, we owe it to James Cameron and his persistence that his script be followed. Arnie wanted to say, “I will be back.” His argument was that a machine would enunciate the full sentence. Cameron said in return, “do I tell you how to act? Don’t tell me how to write.” Needless to say, Cameron is a great example for all aspiring film makers. He is a great source of inspiration.
The Terminator is a great commencement to this captivating story. FilmMunch is excited to continue this series! We must though, interrupt this series, early on, because we will have special guest @amylecreation, collaborating a post in The Munch in FilmMunch 4! We will continue with The Terminator Series after that, stay tuned!
TRIVIA COOKIE: James Cameron wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger to play The Terminator so much, that he waited several months for Arnie to be available. At the time Arnie was working on Conan The Destroyer. During this waiting period, James Cameron started working on another script. That script turned out to be Alien.