What's the True Meaning Behind 'The Terminator' and 'Aliens?'

James Cameron is one of the best writer/directors of all time. Find out what was going through his head when he worked on "Aliens" and "Terminator". 

One of the best things about BAFTA Guru is that they really dig into filmmakers' artistic intent and the reasons why they create film and television. This week, they tackled James Cameron. (Not literally.)

Cameron is one of my favorite filmmakers and one of the best all-time entertainers. 

His films are always thought-provoking and have a high degree of effort and preparation behind them. 

Today I want to go over some of the answers Cameron gave to BAFTA Guru in their interview and talk about the meaning behind his most popular work. 

Let's dig in. 

What's the True Meaning Behind The Terminator and Aliens?

What an excellent video! 

The legend of James Cameron is almost as unbelievable as his films. He was a guy who got an opportunity on Piranha 2, had the film snatched away from him, and wound up relying on his storytelling skills to get back in the good graces of Hollywood. 

That, and being the smartest guy in the room when it came to special effects and computers. 

Those skills got Terminator off the ground, started his blockbuster reputation, and led to his direction of Aliens based off his own script as well. 

Still, Cameron always relied on his heart and soul to make sure his stories connected with wide audiences, as well as the people hiring him. 

To do that, he couched each of his early successes within theme, aka the deeper "what's it all about" when it comes to stories. 

The Terminator

The Terminator franchise is about our relationship with technology and the human potential for dehumanization. We shouldn't trust the fabric of reality because the world is fragile and can change in an instant. 

Cameron goes on to say that the original movie was inspired by the Cuban missile crisis and the futility of fallout shelters when it comes to nuclear bombs. 

Wow, bleak. 

But I think it's a true sign of the times that Cameron was communicating these morals to people in the 1980s who were experiencing a technological boom and unsure how to feel about it. 

What are you a product of? 

What can you do to connect with your audience? 

And what does that have to say about you? 


Cameron started writing Aliens while on set for Terminator. He knew it was an insane job, I mean, following up Ridley Scott's masterpiece was a lose-lose scenario. But only if you tried to imitate Ridley. 

Cameron's ace up his sleeve was knowing he wasn't even going to try to do that. 

He had cemented himself as an action guy. So he decided to make and action movie focused on Ripley suffering from PTSD. It was different enough to avoid comparison to Ridley but close enough to feel like a true sequel. 

Cameron knew this was a great opportunity, even if the cards were stacked against him...just like they were stacked against Ripley and her team. 

Plus, he saw another way to establish himself as the kinetic action guy while showing people what he had to say. Plus, the movie needed someone who knew tech and special effects, so it was his time to shine. 

What are the things about you that make you unique as a filmmaker? 

What's your brand? 

What can you do better? 

Lean into those things and make your projects personal. 

What's next? The Ultimate James Cameron Movie Rankings

Who knows when we'll see the next Avatar movies, and after that, you have to wonder when we'll get another James Cameron original movie. So, if you need your fix of spectacle, humor, and heart, you have to sift back through the Cameron catalog to see what he has to offer. 

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Your Comment


Please tell me this article is satire. "...one of the best writer/directors of all time." Surely this is a joke. I'll grant you the guy can craft some gorgeous visuals, but his writing is abysmal, like 8th grade boy who loves sci-fi level writing. Please try harder to expose your readers to more interesting and talented filmmakers. What's your next article, The Hidden Poetry of McG?

September 12, 2019 at 7:18AM


also, Aliens was total garbage and pretty much set the franchise on a turd-sliding-down-the-porcelain-bowl-of-a-shithouse-shitter trajectory.

September 12, 2019 at 7:50AM


Garbage?? How about you turn your brain on! It’s considered by many to be better than the original! It has one of the dopest fight scenes in it (which I won’t spoil for those who haven’t seen this MASTERPIECE). It has some dope dialogue in it “it’s game over, man!” And it has bad ass guns on Steadicams!! Tell me something, brain scientist, what was wrong with it?? Did they use big words you couldn’t understand? Did the monsters scare you and you couldn’t sleep? Was it too expensive for you to rent??

September 15, 2019 at 1:11AM


Name another writer/director who has made more money than Cameron? As a matter of fact, of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time, there’s only 4 movies that have the same writer and director. Two of those movies are Cameron. Name another writer/director who can make a better sequel than the original? While there are a few possibly better writer/directors than Cameron, none of which have had a career that spans as long as his career. So all things considered, I think the author of this article has more than a solid statement when they say James Cameron is one of the best writer/directors of all time!

September 15, 2019 at 12:58AM