ArtiFact #32: Terminator vs. Terminator 2 - Judgment Day | Ethan Pinch, J. Schneider, A. Sheremet

ArtiFact: Books, Art, Culture

28-09-2022 • 1時間 34分

James Cameron's "Terminator" film series combines the best of Hollywood while remaining unburdened by its convention and cliche. In “Terminator” (1984), Cameron casts an apparently reluctant Arnold Schwarzenegger into the role of T800. From the opening shots of a nude, physically unfamiliar, almost biblical figure surveying Los Angeles, to the slow, complex, yet satisfying buildup of drama/plot machinations, the first Terminator is an example of novelty and craftsmanship in genre film, while “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” takes it all a step further through deeper explorations of character.

In ArtiFact #32, Alex Sheremet, Ethan Pinch, and Jessica Schneider compare the two films as they try to imagine seeing them for the first time. Questions discussed include: how does Arnold Schwarzenegger, as actor, add to the films without much acting? How does his character (even if programmed) change? Are human beings becoming more efficient thinkers and killers to compete against Skynet? Are narrative arcs “enough” to make a good film? You may also watch this discussion on our YouTube channel:

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B side topics: Jessica learns the final piece of her Zoom puzzle; why Ethan Pinch’s pet rabbit made Alex think differently of him; explaining why Bruce Ario’s (as well as Walt Whitman’s) poems creep up upon the reader; Jessica assesses Bruce Ario’s Enneagram types via his novel Cityboy; how death de-fangs “threatening” artists; Ethan Pinch goes off on the British Monarchy, explains Queen Elizabeth’s hidden, understated power; the monarchy’s control of British media; Prince Andrew’s arms sales to dictators; Aleksandr Dugin’s “The Fourth Political Theory” doesn’t differentiate between strains of liberalism; Jessica on Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story on Netflix; thinking about psychopathy, human violence; debating the best artist biopics: Vivian Maier, Amadeus, Into The Deep (on Herman Melville), Emily Dickinson; making fun of Amanda Gorman; art & futurity

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0:18 – introduction; how James Cameron’s early films were formative for Jessica and Alex; arguments for why Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the superior film; Ethan on the shifting stakes between films

9:38 – craft in the Terminator films; symbolism, psychology, how Arnold Schwarzenegger realized over time this was a worthwhile film; seeing the film for the first time; Ethan on the Cold War and Freudian themes; Alex on the use of death, humanoids in Terminator 2 as a nightmarish factor; the comparison to Chris Market’s “Le Jetee”; the Hitchcock connection

25:32 – Jessica on the characterization of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton); smaller scenes as interstitial character-building; how Terminator and well-crafted genre films separate consistent thinking from mere aesthetic preference;

40:43 – Alex on capturing the logic of AI, computer programming; object-oriented behavior in human beings vs. machines; the Freudian / Cold War themes as under the auspices of competition, survival; the attempted Dyson killing as Terminator-like; sociopathy, narcissism vs. robotic behavior; Ethan on the films’ haunted future; The Prisoner and the “white ball” as the sum of incipient human fears; the cliches in the first film’s ending vs. the fact that “the real action” hasn’t been shown from the future; the introduction of behavioral constraints

01:03:15 – cynical apocalypticism into Terminator 2: Judgment Day; the Philip K. Dick connection; how the film makes fun of answers and non-answers, such as John Connor’s interruption of his mother’s spoken/writerly cliches about motherhood; the use of music; do cultural references date James Cameron’s films?

01:15:00 – the use of Los Angeles as both topical, as well as prophetic; turning LA’s Hollywood back upon it across films; Jessica on 90s culture

Tags: #Terminator, #JamesCameron, #scifi