This is definitely one of the films that shaped me into the post-apocalyptic loving weirdo that I am today. I am going to assume that everybody who is reading this has seen this film already, especially since it’s approaching its 40th anniversary fairly soon. If you haven’t seen it in a while it’s up on Prime for free. Since we are in the midst of living in a dystopian hellscape I find this film to be rather comforting. Yeah, the world really sucks at the moment but at least we don’t have marauding cyborgs hunting us down to extinction. Sometimes you have to look on the bright side of things.
There is one huge question that this film poses. Would you really want to live through a nuclear war? Machines hunting you down is bad enough but having to live in absolute squalor while being dosed with fatal levels of radiation really brings the reality that this film creates to a whole new level of misery. The aftermath of a nuclear war that this film depicts is in no way sanitized or glorified. It looks depressing, because more than likely you would be scavenging for food and dressed in rags. Personally, I would only want to live in that timeline if I was located far away from a major population centre.
This was made near the end of the Cold War, a time in which nuclear annihilation was a real possibility. Back in 1984 the truly sci-fi aspect of the film was the depiction of cyborgs and drones going around hunting people. The really scary thing to me is that we now live in a world in which drones fly around dropping bombs. Drones controlled by humans who are thousands of miles away from where the action is taking place. These machines look a whole lot like the ones depicted in the film, which freaks me the hell out sometimes. Recently there has been news that the British MOD have created a drone that is equipped with dual shotguns that uses AI to assess targets in dangerous situations. Who the fuck thought that this was a great idea? People who have obviously never seen this film.
Would humans from around the world really band together to try to save all of humankind? The current pandemic has taught us that there are governments out there who just really don’t give a shit about their own citizens let alone people located in different countries. If there was a threat of a nuclear war the heads of such governments will bunker down and leave all the survivors to fend for themselves. I think our current situation has proved that when it comes down to it you have to prepare for emergencies because the government won’t be willing or even able to help you when the time comes. Be a Sarah Connor.
One of my favourite scenes in the film is the entire police station sequence, because it really shows how arrogant the police can be. The police think they are at the top of the food chain and that they can easily defeat anything thrown their way. Then a T-800 series of Terminator enters the picture and slaughters pretty much the entire station. If the film were to be re-released right now that scene would probably get a standing ovation. When the film was made it was still widely believed, by white Americans in particular, that the police were the good guys. These days it has been shown again and again that they are anything but the good guys, so it is only natural to cheer for the T-800.
Some people may find this film a little dated but I think it is actually timely when it comes to the crap we are living through right now. Always keep an eye on the news so that you aren’t totally surprised when something horrible happens. In other words always be aware of your surroundings, whether it’s your neighbourhood or the country that you live in. The rise of the machines in the film took people by surprise and that is why Skynet had such an easy time annihilating humans. Our current pandemic took a lot of people by surprise because they weren’t paying attention to the reports coming out of China. Reports that were fairly easy to find online. I, and a lot of others, knew about the virus even before our governments made official announcements about it.
As you can tell I am a huge fangirl of this film and for me it really stands the test of time because, as I have shown, its theming can easily apply to the times we are living through right now. If you have somehow never seen this film do yourself a favour and watch it because it is definitely one of the best post-apocalyptic themed films ever made.