TIFF Bell Lightbox Presents The Rise of Beefcake Cinema: ‘The Terminator’ was Cameron’s titanic before ‘Titanic’
Directed by James Cameron
Written by James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd and William Wisher Jr.
Probably James Cameron’s most perennial film, The Terminator effectively launched the career of both himself and his cyborg assassin lead, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oft emulated, this comparatively low-budget sci-fi action thriller was Cameron’s titanic before Titanic.
The film stars Schwarzenegger as the titular terminator, a cyber-assassin sent from a post-apocalyptic 2029 to track down and eliminate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in 1984 Los Angeles. The future mother of a famed rebel, the terminator is sent by his mechanical overlords to kill her, thus preemptively erasing the existence of her son, John, and the subsequent rebellion.
Likewise, but in an effort to save both Connors, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a member of the rebellion, is also sent back to 1984, and must act as Sarah’s protection from an unstoppable force.
Clash of the Titanics: two restored re-releases compared
Titanic Written and directed by James Cameron USA, 1997
A Night to Remember Written by Eric Ambler Directed by Roy Ward Baker UK, 1958
Marking the 100th anniversary of the disaster, the two most famous films about the Titanic sinking have received the restoration and re-release treatment, albeit one of them on a much grander scale. The 1958 British production A Night to Remember, from director Roy Ward Baker, has been given a new digital restoration, receiving blu-ray treatment in North America courtesy of The Criterion Collection and a limited theatrical run in select cities in the United Kingdom. James Cameron’s Titanic, meanwhile, has been converted into 3D for a worldwide re-release. This revival of the world’s previous highest grossing film allows for re-evaluation on the part of its critics, re-familiarisation for its fans, and a chance for those who missed it on the big screen the first time round, like this writer, to see it through the means in which it most thrives, with or without 3D immersion.
Upon revisiting Titanic, the most striking thing is just how well the film has held up and improved over time. Cameron’s much maligned screenplay, for instance, gets a lot more right than it does wrong. The sections with the contemporary framing device are quite bad, some of the supporting characters are poorly realised archetypes, and there’s a fair few instances of problematic exposition. The love story, however, is actually very strong, successfully aping David O. Selznick’s brand of grand, sweeping melodrama to great effect and easily surviving any damage caused by some of Cameron’s occasional dialogue issues. Furthermore, as manipulative as the film is, the depiction of the disaster is nonetheless highly effective on an emotional level: the montage of the doomed set to the strings of the ship’s band, and the lone returning lifeboat’s wafting through the frozen dead, remain absolutely devastating sequences. Avoiding exploitation of the tragedy, the ballad of Jack and Rose acts as just a gateway into a story of history and human disaster; their journey throughout the ship, as well as those of minor characters, allowing for the depiction of each facet of the catastrophe that is suitably horrific and draining.
n 1997, I was a high school student when James Cameron’s blockbuster Titanic was released. As I was in an all-girls school, Leomania was off the charts. For a good six months, everyone was talking about how good the film was and how hot Leonardo DiCaprio looked. Now, a good 15 years later, Titanic is coming back onto our screens, supposedly better than ever (in other words, it is being re-released in 3D), to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the disaster.
I am doubtful about the commercial success of the Titanic the second time round. It has to contend with the quality of 3D effects in current releases and aside from that, there is nothing else to really entice one who fell in love with the film to go back and watch it. Except for nostalgia. Times of big budget, huge scale films have gone; they have been replaced by 3D and green screen.
So, upon it’s impending release, do we really want to go back to Titanic?
On the final night of shooting Titanic in Nova Scotia, one or more pranksters mixed PCP (angel dust) into the clam chowder served to the cast and crew. 80 people were taken ill, many hospitalized with hallucinations.