The Terminator

| May 17, 2011

Tanks crushing skulls. Cyborgs exterminating humans in a post-apocalyptic future. A hulking Austrian automaton stalking ‘80s L.A. A lone human soldier sent back through time to protect the mother of the future savior of mankind.
We know the characters, we know the images, we know the story. It doesn’t get much more iconic than the Terminator franchise, and MGM has released a new Blu-ray Book of the classic 1984 film that started it all, James Cameron’s The Terminator. Following Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who has traveled back in time from 2029 to 1984, and his efforts to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from being terminated by a cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) programmed to kill her, James Cameron’s legendary sci-fi saga sees its inception here, and the first film of the franchise still stands as one of the cinema’s quintessential sci-fi actioners.
In concept, The Terminator was nothing new. The history of science fiction has seen innumerable stories of robots and evil computers, and The Terminator seemed like just another low-budget, B-movie treatment of these familiar sci-fi tropes. Yet the brilliant amalgamation of story elements from people like Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Fritz Lang, and Harlan Ellison within a film stylistically influenced by the murkiness of classical film noir allows The Terminator to transcend any genre limitations and reach a level of inspired and autonomous storytelling. The posthumanist discourse Cameron promulgates in chronicling a battle for survival between overmatched humans and a machinal Übermensch that has replaced our position at the top of the food chain is just one of the many fascinating elements of The Terminator, and watching it today, with all of the subsequent films, TV shows, comics, and video games inspired by it, it still stands head-and-shoulders above everything that has come in its wake, even including the blockbuster sequel.
For owners of any of the previous Blu-ray releases of The Terminator, the transfer itself has no new improvements. However, hardcore fans or fans who have yet to spring for a Blu-ray version, this new Blu-ray Book is a great addition to any film collection. The new booklet included features a short chronicle of the road Cameron traveled from seeing films like 2001 and Star Wars to being on the set of his own science fiction film, small bios of the three stars, Terminator Trivia, and a short essay by Travis Baker entitled “Tech Noir: The Dark Side of Techno,” that discusses the evolution of film noir into its techno-centric transmogrification in the 1980s and the place The Terminator has within this shift.
A great product for a great film, this newest Blu-ray release is not something fans of the film/franchise should be without.

About the Author:

Kyle Barrowman is a graduate of the Cinema Studies program at Columbia College in Chicago. In addition to his work for Film Monthly, he has previously published essays for Cashiers du Cinemart, Offscreen, and The International Journal of Žižek Studies, on subjects ranging from film noir to Alfred Hitchcock, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Lee.
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