The Terminator

Year: 1984

Production: Cinema '84 / Pacific Western / Orion

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton

Screenwriter: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd

107 minutes. Color


In AD2029 a vicious war between humans and machines is raging. To ensure their victory, the machines send back a cyborg Terminator (apparently human, with flesh and blood coating a metal armature and electronic implants) to California in 1984 to murder the mother (Hamilton) of the human leader, thus deleting him from history. The humans send back a man to protect her. Their desperate efforts to escape the inexorable Terminator form the main part of this virtuoso film, which also has remarkably vivid if modestly budgeted sequences of the future war. A virtue is made of Schwarzenegger's rather robotic appearance as the Terminator; when reduced to metal, the still-stalking creature - now an actual robot - is as designed by Stan Winston, who specializes in convincing, nasty aliens (see Aliens, Predator 2).

A lawsuit against the production company was brought by Harlan Ellison, alleging similarities with several of his teleplays, notably Soldier (The Outer Limits [1964]). It was settled out of court and a credit to Ellison was inserted into prints of The Terminator. The sequel is Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

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