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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

James Cameron picks his favourite sci-fi movie

James Cameron picks his favourite sci-fi movie: “It inspired an entire generation of filmmakers”

(Credit: Steve Jurvetson)


In the far-flung frontiers of sci-fi, few filmmakers carry the weight and influence of James Cameron. With iconic movies like Avatar and Aliens under his belt, Cameron’s contributions to the genre are legendary. His films, filled with groundbreaking special effects, pioneering themes, intricate world-building, and action-packed stories, have practically reshaped the landscape of cinematic science fiction.

In 1984, his time-travel action-thriller, The Terminator, completely redefined what a movie in the genre could be. Whereas good, quality sci-fi had previously been restricted to either slow-burning meditative stories or schlocky B-movie pulp, here was a movie that combined a head-scratching, mind-bending concept with big, brash Hollywood bravado. It convinced studios that audiences were more than willing to try and wrap their heads around space-time-continuum plots, while also being dazzled by the flare of gunfire and the splatter of blood on walls.

However, even masters have their inspirations. In an interview with Vulture, Cameron shared his deep admiration for a particular sci-fi film, one that not only inspired a generation of filmmakers but also left a precise and distinct mark on his own career, arguably launching him on the path to greatness we now know him for. This film is none other than Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, Alien.

Cameron reflected, “The franchise has kind of wandered all over the map. Ridley [Scott] did the first film, and he inspired an entire generation of filmmakers and science-fiction fans with that one movie, and there have been so many films that stylistically have derived from it, including my own Aliens.”

His passion for Alien is so evident that his own sequel, Aliens, was a tribute to Scott’s original. Cameron elaborated, “I sort of did it as a fanboy. I wanted to honour his film, but also say what I needed to say. After that,” he concedes, nodding to the less-well-received sequels, “I don’t take any responsibility.”

While Cameron’s sequel is often lauded as a worthy successor, his thoughts regarding the rest of the Alien franchise are more mixed. He commented, “I don’t think it’s worked out terribly well. I think we’ve moved on beyond it.” Touching on the distinct aesthetic forged by Scott’s first film, the director explained: “It’s like, okay, we’ve got it, we’ve got the whole Freudian biomechanoid meme.”

“I’ve seen it in 100 horror films since.” It seems that Cameron’s perspective is that both Alien and Aliens serve as significant reference points in cinematic history – but he questions the need for more films in the franchise. One can’t help but wonder what he will make of the upcoming FX Alien series. Still, despite his reservations about future Alien films, Cameron remains optimistic about Scott’s contributions. “I will stand in line for any Ridley Scott movie, even a not-so-great one, because he is such an artist, he’s such a filmmaker. I always learn from him.”

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