The American Cinematheque at the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian presents

COSMIC FURY: the spectacular cinema of James Cameron

February 3 - 6, 1999

From the apocalyptic action of THE TERMINATOR to the awesome spectacle of TITANIC, director James Cameron has redefined the size and speed of modern American filmmaking. Cameron’s movies combine visionary (and often terrifying) high-tech with a grungy, low-tech gallery of Marine grunts and even-tougher women (Linda Hamilton, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis.) Inspired by everything from Marvel comic books to Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Cameron uses the modern action movie to play with -- and re-imagine -- the way we live right now. "I think of myself as an optimistic paranoid," Cameron has said, with humor -- "I’m very optimistic about the human animal and our potential, and I’m paranoid about some of the darker potential inherent in our technologies."


A native of Ontario, Canada, Cameron moved to Los Angeles at age 17; he taught himself filmmaking by trial-and-error, before being hired by Roger Corman to do visual effects on BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and GALAXY OF TERROR. Cameron’s early work in F/X and production design give films like ALIENS and THE ABYSS an intensely "lived-in" feel -- a kind of wrap-around, total cinema where machines (and people) often break down. He’s also been highly-underrated as a screenwriter -- Cameron has scripted or co-scripted all of his own films, as well as George Cosmatos’ RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD II and Kathryn Bigelow’s STRANGE DAYS. For all the technical wizardry in Cameron’s films, there’s something purely elemental about the cosmic fury he unleashes on-screen -- the molten fire in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, the bottomless pit in THE ABYSS, the iceberg in TITANIC are primal terrors delivered with the awe and wonder of Griffith or DeMille.

We’re very pleased to welcome James Cameron to the Egyptian Theatre for the Opening Night of the retrospective. Coverage of this discussion is available on or read it here.

More About James Cameron

Series Compiled by Dennis Bartok.

Special Thanks to: Stacy Maes, Geoff Burdick, Nancy Hobson and Nicole Cimino/LIGHTSTORM; Jan Bilson/20TH CENTURY FOX; John Kirk/MGM-UA; Mike Schlesinger/COLUMBIA PICTURES REPERTORY; Diana McKinney and Alfred Aja/PARAMOUNT PICTURES. Photos courtesy of Eric Caidin/HOLLYWOOD BOOK & POSTER.


Wednesday, February 3rd - 7:00 PM

James Cameron - In-Person!! THE ABYSS - Special Edition, 1993, 20th Century Fox, 172 min. Deep-water expert Ed Harris and soon-to-be ex-wife Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio square off against Navy SEAL Michael Biehn and a crew of N.T.I.’s (Non-Terrestrial Intelligences), in Cameron’s gripping underseas THE ABYSSepic. The stunning underwater scenes -- shot in a flooded nuclear cooling tower, with camera and diving gear developed by Cameron -- soon became the stuff of Hollywood legend; but the film’s real power comes from its brilliant ensemble work, and Cameron’s claustrophobic sense of suspense. Discussion following with director James Cameron.


Thursday, February 4th - 7:00 PM

THE TERMINATOR, 1984, Orion (MGM/UA), 108 min. "I’ll be back," growls T-2 Collagemetal-machine Arnold Schwarzenegger -- and Cameron’s career kicked into overdrive with this story of a cyborg killer from the future tracking down human prey Linda Hamilton. Shot on a very-lean budget of $6.5 million, with excellent F/X by Stan Winston and Fantasy II, THE TERMINATOR is pulp sci-fi at its very best. "I don’t think we were trying to set the world on fire ... I just came up with a way of juxtaposing futuristic elements with a kind of everyday reality." -- Cameron. Discussion following with producer Gale Anne Hurd, cinematographer Adam Greenberg and visual effects artist Gene Warren Jr.


Thursday, February 4th - 9:45 PM

70 mm. Print!! TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, 1991, TriStar, 136 min.

"A violent movie about world peace" is how Cameron described this high-octane sequel to the original TERMINATOR. Like his earlier ALIENS, T-2 is less a remake than a re-imagining of the first film -- here, Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger (in a muscular, understated performance) is an obsolete killer, sent back as guardian to Linda Hamilton and teenage son Edward Furlong. The strangely-elegant morphing effects of the T-1000 are dazzling -- but it’s Cameron’s uncanny blend of pop humor and visionary sci-fi that make TERMINATOR 2 the ultimate in Future Shock. Plus, a short behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming TERMINATOR 2 3-D VIRTUAL ADVENTURE (courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood.) Win a T2 Exo-skeleton at this screening! Cinematographer Adam Greenberg and visual effects artist Gene Warren Jr. scheduled to introduce screening.


Friday, February 5th - 7:00 PM

70 mm. Print!! ALIENS, 1986, 20th Century Fox, 137 min. With Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser. Seven years after Ridley Scott’s original ALIEN, Cameron returned with this sinister, explosive WWII-movie-in-space, about a platoon of U.S. Marines stranded on planet LV-426. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is darker and richer here -- haunted by alien nightmares, going face-to-face with her deepest fears. Watch for Cameron’s flawless feel for detail and pacing in ALIENS, the way he builds suspense scene-by-scene (the creatures don’t even appear until almost 50 minutes into the movie!) For added realism, Cameron hired Marine Corps vet Al Matthews as platoon sergeant -- "If one of the actors dropped their rifle, he’d run over and scream in their face ‘Your rifle is your life, soldier! Give me fifty!" -- Cameron. Plus, Cameron’s rarely-seen music video (in 35 mm.!) for Bill Paxton’s band Martini Ranch - ! Discussion following with producer Gale Anne Hurd.


Friday, February 5th - 10:00 PM

70 mm. Print!! TRUE LIES, 1994, 20th Century Fox, 141 min. Loosely adapted from the French comedy LA TOTALE, TRUE LIES is Cameron’s sly (and surprisingly sexy) take on his own brand of all-out action movie -- where buff secret-agent Arnold Schwarzenegger finds himself back-pedalling to save his marriage to wife Jamie Lee Curtis. Schwarzenegger’s performance here may be his best, riffing on his own jaw-clenching, muscle-popping image -- it’s hard to imagine a 70 mm. comedy with rocket-launchers, but TRUE LIES is it. Discussion before screening with producer Stephanie Austin.


Saturday, February 6th - 7:00 PM

70 mm. Print!! TITANIC, 1997, Paramount, 194 min. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, Kathy Bates, Billy Zane. "I thought I wanted to be the next Jacques Cousteau," Cameron once remarked -- here, he goes one better by resurrecting the doomed R.M.S. Titanic as a shimmering spectacle of polished brass and lost love. First the most-expensive (and later the most-successful) movie in Hollywood history, TITANIC was in reality a labor of love and craft for Cameron and crew -- from cinematographer Russell Carpenter’s luminous ocean images to production designer Peter Lamont’s meticulous reconstructions of the Titanic interiors. If you’ve seen TITANIC once, twice, three times -- come see it again, in a gorgeous 70 mm. print courtesy of Paramount Pictures! Discussion following with actress Gloria Stuart.