The Terminator Essay Research Paper For the

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The Terminator Essay, Research Paper For the purposes of this essay I have chosen The Terminator, a science fiction B-movie feature from 1984. Although I intend mainly to study this purely as a single film, I do intend to study Terminator 2 in addition, thus making the essay a study of the series. In addition, I will be contrasting the theory written surrounding these films in relation to other contemporary postmodern theory, and as a result will be mentioning several other films by way of a comparison or contrast. The Terminator seems quite remarkable to me, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is one of many action films I watched in my early teens; a considerable number of which, like this film, starred the Austrian body-builder turned actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. What is

so different about The Terminator though, is that unlike most of these films, this movie has enough depth and substance that, not only does it still bear watching now that I am older, but it also has an archive of academic theory written about it. The Terminator tells of a cyborg, a human shaped machine coated in flesh, that is sent back in time, from an apocalyptic future in which machines have got smart and acted on their own to destroy the human race. The cyborg s mission is to assassinate the mother of the human s great leader, the man who taught the survivors to fight back against the machines. The woman, a young waitress named Sarah Connor, is protected only by a lone warrior – Kyle Reese – sent back to protect her by her future son, John. Reese is in love with Sarah, a

love formulated from a photograph he has of her. A sexual relation with her causes pregnancy that will result in John s birth, before the pair manage to destroy the terminator, although not before Reese is himself victim to the wrath of the machine. John Connor has then in effect knowingly sent his own father back in time to his death so that he may himself be born. It is worth noting, that the film features an abundance of technology throughout. As Reese sits alone in his stolen car waiting to intercept Sarah, he listens to music and advertisements on the radio as he watches large automated drills at work in the vacant lot beside him, his eyes squinting against the glare of spotlights. In the course of the narrative, this scene is crucial as it represents a trigger that causes

Reese to dream, to flashback to the future; a future of pain, suffering and destruction at the hands of machines like the terminator. Constance Penley notes this fixation with present day technology as a key to understanding one of the subtexts of the film: Machines provide the texture and substance of this film: cars, trucks, motorcycles, radios, TVs, time clocks, phones, answering machines. beepers, hair dryers, Sony Walkmen, automated factory equipment. The defence network computer of the future which decided our fate in a microsecond had its humble origins here, in the rather more innocuous technology of the film s present. (Penley: 1989, 117) Penley notes that this technology is not portrayed by the film as evil in the way that the terminator is, but rather as an unfortunate

hindrance, albeit a life threatening one to the fates of the characters. In the film a simple answering machine can give away Sarah s location to the terminator; a Sony Walkman can prevent her flatmate Ginger from hearing the brutal fight between the cyborg and her boyfriend which is happening in the next room. I believe that this lingering on 20th century technology also serves another purpose, that of naturalising the apocalypse of the future. The large flying laser-weaponed Hunter-Killers , used to spot and eliminate surviving humans may have seem far fetched, were it not for the inclusion of the Los Angeles police helicopters, which in a way perform a similar task – that of spotting human targets. This juxtaposition of the real , innocent present against an conceptual ,