CFP Episode 121 – Sarah Connor
Hello, and welcome to episode 121 of the Christian Feminist Podcast, I’m Sara Klooster. Today, we’re talking about the last great science fiction heroine, Sarah Connor. far, Christina and I have talked about Leia Organa and Ellen Ripley. We have finally come to Christina’s favorite, Sarah Connor who I must admit is pretty amazing despite having an H on the end of her name. Sarah Connor appears in multiple movies in the Terminator franchise, but like with Ellen Ripley we will be focusing on the first two movies only. Both Terminator movies were directed by James Cameron. Terminator was released in 1984 and Terminator 2 was released in 1991, but takes place in 1995 ten years after the first movie. These movies are filled with action, suspense, and nudity that I completely forgot about until I was rewatching them. However, before we settle in to our topic, let’s introduce ourselves.
Lets to a quick plot overview (Christina)
What were the initial critical and popular opinions of the movies when they were released?
(From Wikipedia for The Terminator)
The Los Angeles Times called the film “a crackling thriller full of all sorts of gory treats … loaded with fuel-injected chase scenes, clever special effects and a sly humor.” The Milwaukee Journal gave the film 3 stars, calling it “the most chilling science fiction thriller since Alien.” A review in Orange Coast magazine stated that “the distinguishing virtue of The Terminator is its relentless tension. Right from the start it’s all action and violence with no time taken to set up the story … It’s like a streamlined Dirty Harry movie – no exposition at all; just guns, guns and more guns.” In the May 1985 issue of Cinefantastique it was referred to as a film that “manages to be both derivative and original at the same time … not since The Road Warrior has the genre exhibited so much exuberant carnage” and “an example of science fiction/horror at its best … Cameron’s no-nonsense approach will make him a sought-after commodity”. In the United Kingdom the Monthly Film Bulletin praised the film’s script, special effects, design and Schwarzenegger’s performance.
(From Wikipedia for Terminator 2)
The Montreal Film Journal called it “one of the best crafted Hollywood action flicks.” Syd Field lauded the plot of Terminator 2, writing: “every scene sets up the next, like links in a chain of dramatic action.” Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, and wrote: “Schwarzenegger’s genius as a movie star is to find roles that build on, rather than undermine, his physical and vocal characteristics.” Hal Hinson, reviewer for The Washington Post, was also positive, writing that: “No one in the movies today can match Cameron’s talent for this kind of hyperbolic, big-screen action. Cameron, who directed the first Terminator and Aliens, doesn’t just slam us over the head with the action. In staging the movie’s gigantic set pieces, he has an eye for both grandeur and beauty; he possesses that rare director’s gift for transforming the objects he shoots so that we see, for example, the lyrical muscularity of an 18-wheel truck. Because of Cameron, the movie is the opposite of its Terminator character; it’s a machine with a human heart.” Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune was enthusiastic about the film, giving it 3 1/2 stars: “thanks to some truly spectacular and at times mystifying special effects – as well as some surprisingly solid acting – this is one terrific action picture, more enjoyable than the original”. Halliwell’s Film Guide also rated the film as an improvement on its predecessor, giving it two stars out of four and describing it as a “thunderous, high-voltage action movie with dazzling special effects that provide a distraction from the often silly narrative.”
So, how does Sarah’s character change from T1 to T2?
How is she actually coded in T1? I can’t tell. Is she a girl next door? The 80’s fashion throws me off.
- She’s the Che Guevara of Soccer Moms, her drive to kill Miles Dyson seems as if she will transform into a Terminator
- B: I’ve heard a quote about how, in the game of patriarchy, women are not the opposing team, they’re the ball.
- B: It’s great to note how much her character changes over the two films. She’s not really naive or helpless in the first film (unless compared to her predator), but she becomes more and more self-reliant and aggressive as the film goes on. By the second, she’s both traumatized by what she knows will happen and completely hardened as someone who’s had to prepare for all-out war. I really struggle to think of another female protagonist who’s so convincingly gone from physically/martially weak to capable over a film series, Ripley and Leia being the closest comparisons but, to my mind, more “powerful” at the outset of their stories.
Is Sarah the main character in T2?
B: It’s an interesting question, because the movie spends a lot of time without her, focusing on John, but she does bookend the film with narration. At the same time, perhaps the Terminator itself is the main character, because it’s “his” mission we’re following, and we get the most overt character arc for “him” in the film with “I know why you cry”.
What does these movies say about Fate? What are the similarities to the Greek idea of fate?
- Like the Delphic prophecy for Oedipus, the act to try to prevent the prophecy is what ends up ensuring it is fulfilled.
- Sarah as Cassandra
- B: I thought I remembered the “We have no fate but what we make for ourselves” in the first film, but IMDb isn’t showing that as one of the quotes, so I think it’s not until part two. In the first film, there’s no lip service or anything paid to the idea of stopping Skynet and Judgment Day before it happens, but the second film is based around that idea, and it ends with the seeming presumption that changing the future has worked. Of course, future films completely negate this. I once read an article in Entertainment Weekly about the plot of the first three movies that had a line like, “No matter what happens in time or space, in the future, there will always be killer robots.”
Why do apocalyptic films appeal to us?
B: The popular TV show/comic The Walking Dead has a sort of epigraph on the back of its trade paperbacks that ends with the phrase, “In a world ruled by the dead, we are finally forced to start living.” There’s the obvious answer of “bigger stakes = more excitement,” but I think there’s on top of that a sense of adventure tied to dire circumstances. When survival itself is a struggle, the purpose of one’s life is more plain. Also, apocalyptic literature and dystopias are easy allegory material: whatever killed the world is the big bad thing we should be more careful about in the here and now.
S: Concern for world wide disasters definitely made sense at the height of the Cold War in the mid 80’s. Skynet definitely mirrors this. Sarah has a vision of a nuclear blast which is technology used against us which is the basis of the entire series. Technology and institutions which are supposed to protect us are actually being used against us.
What connection does this have to Christianity?
-There are obvious overtones of Mother MAry, but in an even more allegorical sense, she almost represents a religious zealot. She has a mission, it’s all-important to her, her failure would mean ultimate destruction, and she doesn’t care that society around her sees her as crazy for it. F. Chan: “Something is wrong if our lives don’t look crazy to non-Christians.” She’s Apostle Paul.
Sara: Ghost in the Shell series – future world filled with Cyborgs
B: Fallout series of games (particularly New Vegas)–a series about surviving communities after a nuclear war and how little changes in the human condition, whether we’re in the Space Age or bombed back to the Stone Age.
The Last Of Us https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaV5FbpEiKM
C: Terminator 3 and Dark Fate