The Movie Master
Hello everybody. I decided to give it a shot again and this time devote the article to my all time favorite writer and director, James Cameron.
He is the most successful director of all time, having the highest grossing films with most Oscars and tons of Golden Globes and all kinds of awards.
I think it's amazing that every single one of his movies (not counting the debut Piranha 2) was either the biggest movie ever, the biggest movie of the year or the movie milestone. And each movie this guy makes is a Megahit. That is something not even George Lucas or Steven Spielberg can say.
Unlike any other director, James Cameron is completely obsessed with the movie he makes. He isn't even thinking about it as a movie but as his story that he wants to tell. That and the combination of a huge ego contributed to the fact that he is described as one of the most innovative directors. Thanks to those characteristics and ego, he never ever followed any trend in Hollywood and was always the one that started the trends. He was the leader, not follower. Cameron never thought about what's popular in the cinema at the time and simply made movies about something that interested HIM, not everyone else.
Cameron is also always involved in every single aspect of the movie, designing characters and looks himself, drawing storyboards, helping with special effects, with editing - everything. And we all know that when he is fascinated with something he's like a psycho (in a good sense) - he is so completely obsessed and taken by the story that it borders with insanity. Titanic being the pinnacle of it all.
He actually resigned from his director's pay (all of it!!!) in order to put more money into Titanic and extend the running time a little. Imagine that! Now that's an artist who truly cares for his work.
Another example of Cameron truly being passionate about movies as an art is that he refused to do Terminator 3 because, like he said, the story was finished, "I told the story". He threw away an easy buck, millions of them for the sake of the story. That and the fact that he didn't want to take the easy route and go with recognizable name, he wanted to take on a challenge and make another name a household one, which he did with Titanic. Fascinating
Cameron's theme in every movie except for True Lies is the relationship between the man and technology, and how it fails and eventually we go back to using our own instincts. Whether it's Terminator series with war against the machines, or Aliens with gun loaded marines loosing with space animals or Titanic - it's always the same theme. And also, every movie has some parallels (Ripley protecting little Newt and Queen protecting hive), amazing development of the characters and incredible depth.
The only movie I don't like much from Jim is "True Lies". It's an attempt to make a comedy, but I believe that very deep stories and characters exploration is what's Cameron best at.
THE TERMINATOR (1984)
Here is the movie that started it all. Launched Arnold's career, made Cameron a household name and started a fad in sci-fi genre that continued till mid 90's.
Terminator wasn't just a chase movie about cyborg from the future chasing a woman and her boyfriend protector. The movie was based on 'Halloween" with The Terminator being virtually Mike Myers who is a stone cold killer who keeps getting up no matter what and keeps appearing in the dark and dissappearing when cops arrive. Classic Horror motif.
He's there when you close your eyes...
That's great but it's more about the psychology of it. How would you feel if you're a waitress who's getting pushed around, cant even get boyfriends and then this comes up - serial killer's after you and it appears that his existence is based purely on ripping your heart out and it's constantly on your trail. He kills your entire family, all of your friends and anybody whose been around you. And it will not stop, ever, until you're dead
The movie was made during the cold war when the Nuclear conflict was something that could happen anytime, so that and the 80's horror music (which I think is brilliant!!) dates the movie a little, along with stop motion FX, but that's the part of the charm
"The Terminator" became a classic and one of the best sci-fi movies to date. This is the movie that started a new fashion in Hollywood. Just look at the years that followed - we had American Cyborg, Cyborg, Nemesis, Universal Soldier, Class of 1999 etc etc.
This is the first of Cameron's film's where the blue filter was used. Cameron likes to have a blue aura when showing darkness or night, and will continue using this technique for the next two movies.
Cameron was fascinated with 1979's Alien and kept pushing 20th Century Fox for a sequel but they didn't wanna do it. They said Alien didn't make enough money to spawn a sequel. After Terminator's success they changed their mind and were blown away by James' script. He got his wish
Cameron kick started and revolutionized the franchise. He took the 70's UK horror and turned it into a blockbuster franchise, spawning toys, books, comic books and so forth.
He modified some things to give the alien breed more logic and sense. In the original movie in a deleted scene, it is revealed that the bodies of the victims morph into eggs (!). Cameron changed that and adjusted the species into animal like behavior - because that's what they are, space animals. He gave them different kinds, like warriors protecting the hive, invented the hive and Alien Queen who laid eggs
'Aliens' is regarded as the fan favorite of the series along with the first movie, and to date is the highest grossing alien movie. It hit theaters at #1 for four consecutive weeks and became one of the highest grossing movies of 1986 and an instant classic.
Characters are again very well developed and seem like real people. Not to explain everything, as the story's so complex that it would take a while to point it all out, but some of the things that stick out are the relationship of Newt and Ripley and the parallels in the movie. Cameron already used those in Terminator - Soldier Kyle Reese eventually appeared to be John Connor's father while The Terminator's parts gave birth to Skynet - so both John and Skynet sent both their fathers ensuring their existence. With Aliens we have two mothers fighting for the survival of their 'kids' and their own. It also shows the power and bravery of a woman that's powered by her maternal instincts. Even thought Newt is not really Ripley's daughter, Ripley lost hers and found her image in Newt.
THE ABYSS (1989)
Cameron went deeper with The Abyss, literally and figuratively. From now on, he dropped horror from his usual sci-fi horror and never returned.
This is another great story this time taking place underwater and showing an interaction and psyche of the people who are forced to interact with each other and who meet with unexpected circumstances. Yet again and incredible character development is displayed and watching the movie we feel like we're really the main characters. It also touches lots of different issues, and yes, yet again we see the motif of failing technology that forces the main characters to get back to relying on themselves which brings out the best and the worst in them.
It's also interesting to note that Cameron has his own trusted crew and set of actors that he often reuses. For example, Micheal Biehn has been in almost all of Cameron's movies, as was Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein.
The Abyss was another movie that became one of the highest grossing movies of the year and started another fad about underwater bases and aliens/monsters. We got movies such as Leviathan and Deep Star Six
TERMINATOR 2:JUDGMENT DAY aka T2 (1991)
Now, who haven't seen T2? I mean c'mon, it's a classic! And everyone who was around when it hit theaters knows that the hype was enormous, it was the biggest thing ever! By the time it was released, T2 was the most expensive movie ever made and the highest grossing movie ever (a feat that Cameron will repeat once again). Not only that, but it also revolutionized special FX and thanks to this movie we have CGI nowadays. That was the start and everything else that followed had CGI and we're using it to this day. Thanks to that new technique, we got the most original villain ever, the T-1000. Liquid metal creature changing appearances and shapes
The story itself is very deep and thought provoking. I think if you're young you really won't fully understand the movie and the messages behind it. Even to this day when I know every single line from the movie, there were many things I didn't catch until I listened to the DVD audio commentary from Cameron. There's just so much to this movie and it's characters and messages that it would take a separate article to explain and expose it all. Just for one example - we have yet another parallel. T-800 becomes more human and slowly is starting to understand human emotions and feelings, while Sarah becomes more and more like a machine being so crazy and obsessed with stopping the nuclear war and with what's to come. She finds Dyson, the innocent guy who incidentally will invent Skynet that will destroy humanity, and mercilessly tries to kill him. When trying to shoot him, she uses the lasersight and that's a message that she became what she's fighting against - she's like a cyborg herself emotionlessly trying to blow away an innocent father, even using lasesight like the terminator from the first movie. She became him. That of course, until she cracked. But the lasersight connection was really cool.
Of course one more thing I just HAVE TO point out is the amazing turn - the cruel villain now becomes a hero that we cry after! How amazing is that to turn the tables so much?
Brad Fiedel's music is just phenomenal and fits the movie perfectly. The score is composed of metallic sounds and noises incorporated into orchestral music. Very, very original and climatic.
TRUE LIES (1994)
Here is Cameron's shot at comedy, which as usual with his movies, became a huge hit. Great action but I'm just really not that crazy about this one. I like it, yes, but wouldn't add it to my DVD collection.
TERMINATOR 2 3D: BATTLE ACROSS TIME (1996)
A short, 20 minutes long action packed movie made for Universal Studios still playing around the country. Our heroes return and this time they jump into the future to face Skynet itself and its guardian: breath taking gigantic T-1000000.
The story was written with Gary Goddart who directed Masters Of The Universe movie. For me its phenomenal, as are other Jim movies. Even thought it's so short, it still manages to suck you in and keep you on the edge of your seat, and not because of the park effects but because of the fast paced action.
Here it is - the most successful movie of all time with most Oscars and the highest grossing movie in history. What's amazing is that it wasn't big when it hit theaters right away, it became so popular because of word of mouth - it was that good. As great as this epic movie is, it's also sad that such tragedy really happened. The movie is basically as accurate in recalling the events as possible. In one of the documentaries about the movie, they showed that everything you see in the background when the main characters are in front of the camera is an exact recreation of what was going on on the photographs. For example, there's one scene where Jack walks around the deck with Rose and for few seconds there are some guys playing ball and some kid playing with yo-yo in the background. And then they showed an old photograph from that day in 1912 and it pictured the very same people doing the same things in exact same poses.
Some people even begun questioning Cameron's sanity because the attention to the detail in this movie is outstanding. For example, did you know that there's an exact duplicate of the white star line logo on the forks and plates? can you even tell such detail?
For some reason, the movie today got a stereotype of being a girly movie, which really puzzles me why. But I guess it's just one of those things, those stupid biases - like some saying that Star Wars is a kids movie, or that terminator is a robot movie for children etc. Unless you watch it or re-watch it after a long time, you can't tell.
Titanic is a disaster movie that shows us the terrible event that shook the world almost hundred year's ago. But the death toll wasn't only ship's fault. Once again we see such well mannered people we all think we are, changing into crazy animals trying to survive at any cost killing each other to save ourselves.
The powerful vessel
The reason that the main story is a story of forbidden love was explained by Cameron - he said that the most heartbreaking thing he heard from the survivals was that when they were being lowered down on the boats they couldn't do anything but watch their husbands waving goodbye, knowing that there's no chance that they'll survive the wait for the available boats. And that's why Cameron wanted to go into one of the women's mind and make us feel like she did. But since he didn't wanna touch any real characters, he made up Jack and Rose. He wanted to be so accurate historically that they "gave" Rose the cabin that wasn't used on Titanic in real life.
And special effects were yet again groundbreaking. The entire ship was built!! It wasn't finished on one side, but hey. And the interiors were so faithfully recreated
The movie became such an icon and legend, and I think it's very well deserved. For me it's without a doubt, the biggest masterpiece in movie history and the jewel in the crown of James Cameron
King Of The World
And like i said earlier, he was clearly so passionate about this ship and it's history. He did a story about something HE loved, not caring what's 'hot' in theaters at all. Who would think that a story about a ship would be a success? Yet that's something he wanted to do and was very into. And again, he did the movie for free resigning from his director's pay to get extra minutes in the movie. Amazing
Titanic is a film for all ages, both sexes and all cultures, and its success can be attributed to such. But ultimately, whatever it was that made Titanic the film it is today, and whether you like it or completely loathe it, there is no escaping that it is indeed a cornerstone of cinematic history. Like Gone with the Wind in the late thirties, Star Wars in the mid seventies, and most recently The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Titanic is cemented into our culture and our history for all time.
And I also have to mention James Horner's score, which I believe is the best ever and truly deserved the Oscar it got. Beautiful piece of music, beautiful. "Hymn To The Sea" and "Take Her To The Sea" are two of my favorite pieces
Finally, a decade after the unmatched success James Cameron took a seat behind the camera yet again. And yet again we'll have a revolution. Just like he did with T2, he said he is now gonna revolutionize special FX using a brand new technique they developed for this movie. It's a form of CGI, but such that will be impossible to tell from the real thing, as oppose to the cartoonish CGI we have today. Avatar is going to be a story set in a fictional world looking like jungle about an alien who took human's form, that's all we know so far.
Coming next summer!
Hope you guys enjoyed the article