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The Terminator

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General Information:
Year Released: 1984
Country: US
Director: James Cameron

The Promise of Science: Time Travel

A paradox is not seen in The Terminator, but pre-ordained time travel is -- that is, the known future could not exist without alterations of the past. An assassin robot is sent back in time to kill the mother of a future rebel leader, and a rebel soldier (Reese) is sent back to prevent this from happening. Reese meets up with the woman, and causes her a great deal of confusion by using the past tense when speaking of events from her life that have not yet happened. We see flash-forwards rather than flashbacks, as Reese is remembering the future. He impregnates the woman, becoming the father of the future leader. Although this was not planned by the rebels, the future could not have happened the way it did without this intervention in the past.

The Promise of Science: Computers

The theme of evil computers taking over the world is furthered by the premise of The Terminator. A satellite-based computer system called Skynet, designed to protect mankind and maintain global peace, is given complete control over communications and weapons systems. It doesn't take long for Skynet to decide that humans are nothing but a waste, and it wages nuclear war on its creators, seeking to wipe out all life on Earth.

The Promise of Science: Robots

The robots in The Terminator are also servants of evil masters, but their masters are intelligent computers, not human (or human-derivative). Instead of being the tools of oppression, they are tools of war, charged with the destruction of the human race. One of these robots is sent back through time to assassinate a human. It looks exactly like a human and is able to move freely through our society. It is deceptive, intelligent, and extremely powerful. It is ultimately overcome by a human, and although she uses a machine to destroy it, we are shown that humans can overcome even the strongest machines.

Beneath its fake human exterior, the Terminator is a cold, metal robot.

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. erika . .
. last modified: Jul 20, 2000 .