[Cinema Sunday] The Terminator – Evil from the Future

“I’ll be back” – The Terminator

It’s going to be a hot one today. A perfect excuse to stay inside with a tall, cold beverage and spend time watching movies. And since today is Father’s Day, maybe this is one of those ‘dad’ movies that it’s time to show the family (only those who are mature enough to handle it).

Things are going full swing with the 80’s sci-fi series for the summer. And what better movie to write about then one that helped redefine science-fiction movies for generations. Not only that, it helped further cement Arnold Schwarzenegger as a lead in action movies.

James on set with Arnold

Like with Aliens, The Terminator started with James Cameron. In this case however, Cameron’s dream actually started with a dream. Taking ill in Rome during the release of Piranha II, he dreamed, “about a metallic torso holding kitchen knives dragging itself from an explosion.” From there the writing process kicked in. After an initial draft (with TWO Terminators, one eventually becoming the villain in T2), the script was shown to Gale Anne Hurd.

Hurd was impressed by the script, and Cameron offered to sell it to her for a dollar, on the condition that he would direct. After a lengthy process of showing the script to various companies, they struck pay-dirt. John Daly, executive at Hemdale Film Corporation liked what he saw. After securing additional backing from HBO and Orion (plus bumping the budget from $4 million to 6.5 million), casting and production were under way.

For the part of the Terminator, ironically, Arnold was first pegged as Kyle Reese. In spite of his initial misgivings about the role, Arnold soon warmed up to the idea of playing a robot villain. After being shown the script and agreeing to take the part, Arnold began his prepping.

The biggest element was the weapons training. Over a 3-month period, Arnold became proficient in firearms to learn their use and become comfortable with them. As for dialogue, well with only 18 lines and less than a 1000 words, that wasn’t exactly a difficult task.

Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor, two big names in an even bigger franchise. In casting these parts, a lot of consideration went into who could best bring them to life. Sting was at one point pegged to play Kyle. Ultimately the role went to Michael Biehn, who was skeptical at first and felt the project was silly. All that changed after a sit-down with James Cameron won him over, and the rest is history.

As for Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton was a shoo-in from the word go. James Cameron wanted a woman who could best embody all the traits Sarah has in both the first film, that would be later projected into her strength and determination in the later installments of the series. Fresh off the filming of Children of the Corn, Linda was called up and it was off to the races.

As with previous Cinema Sunday articles, there is so much that goes into the making of a movie. Camera work, locations, special effects, sound editing etc. All these components come together into the cinematic triumphs that people love so much. Well here is a treat for all those devoted Cinema Sunday readers. A behind the scenes look at the making of The Terminator from 1984. Enjoy!

For any great movie, critical reviews matter just as much as box office results. When Terminator opened years ago, there seemed to be a mixed bag of love for it. The Chicago Tribune only gave it 2 stars, while The Pittsburgh Press shredded it.

In spite of all this, Variety’s review of it was positively glowing.

The Terminator is a blazing, cinematic comic book, full of virtuoso moviemaking, terrific momentum, solid performances and a compelling story.

To everyone who is celebrating Father’s Day, make the most of the time spent with your dads. And to everyone who wants to do something other then sit around, go outside and enjoy the summertime weather. When the night gets dark and the sun is low, if dad wants to enjoy a movie that means a lot to him, suggest something like The Terminator. Enjoy that special bonding time.