#250 – The Terminator (1984)

From 654,198 votes, The Terminator has an 8.0/10 rating on IMDb.

A seemingly indestructible humanoid cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs.


Before I’d done something like this project last year, I hadn’t watched The Terminator. Children of the 90s know everything about the film from pop-cultural osmosis. The fact that Sarah Connor is in danger, the fact the eponymous villain says “I’ll be back” and even what he looks like with all of his organic material melted off. For that reason, I never felt the need to watch The Terminator – it was a story I knew, with characters I knew, and catchphrases I knew.

Despite this, watching the movie was really entertaining. It’s unleaded 80s action with all the testosterone one needs for a bloody romp. Also you see Arnold Schwarzenegger’s arse within the first 5 minutes and you could bounce a 50p coin off of it. It’s a good movie.

The terminator itself is set up very early to be an unstoppable force of violence without remorse, plucking a teenager’s heart from his chest for his clothes, and shooting a mother of two in the head at point-blank range. His reasons for being in this time are clear quickly, which doesn’t leave the audience confused or frustrated, and in fact the movie is pretty good at this all the way through. It gives us clues and reveals plot points that keep us hooked on the plot throughout.

The action scenes are great, and are perfect in exemplifying how terrifying the terminator is supposed to be. The shots from the terminator’s PoV are also fantastic in expressing how high-tech it’s supposed to be, another thing replicated in oh so many pieces of media from 1984 onwards.

All in all, The Terminator is a great movie. If, like me, you haven’t bothered to watch it out of laziness, I’d urge you to reconsider. It’s genuinely enjoyable. I’m absolutely not a fan of action movies but I really did enjoy this romp through this time-travel, high-octane, deliciously 80s gorefest.


In this movie, Kyle Reese has a flashback (flashforward?) when he sees a large crane. He wakes from this episode in a panic, breathing heavily and sweating. The Future War is an obviously traumatic event from Kyle’s past that is being relived, a common and key feature of PTSD. The crane is a large, mechanical object which shares many visual aspects with the monstrosities from the Future War. The crane is an innocuous stimulus which triggers a reliving of traumatic experiences.

Ten years after The Terminator hit the cinemas, van der Kolk (1994) published an article relaying findings that implied traumatic memories may be processed outside the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for episodic memories (memories that concern past events and the details of these events). Being outside of the hippocampus, according to van der Kolk, means that the inhibition of the memory relies on physiological and neurohormonal variables. When a memory is uninhibited completely, every aspect of it that is filed away is relived in full. The sights, the sounds, the smells.

Taking this explanation of PTSD flashbacks into account, this could be one explanation of Kyle’s episode:

When Kyle sees the crane, he is reminded of the machines from the Future War, which fills him with anxiety, fear and guilt. This intense arousal leads to his memories of the Future War, specifically the episode from the clip above, to become totally uninhibited. Free to impose itself upon Kyle’s senses, Kyle undergoes a traumatic flashback.

2 thoughts on “#250 – The Terminator (1984)

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