James Cameron applies his engineering background’s eye to the smallest details on every one of his films. Not for nothing have crews on his legendary shoots defiantly sported T-shirts emblazoned with legends such as “You can’t scare me, I work for James Cameron.” He demands a lot, from both crew and audience: “If you’re gonna work with me, you’d better be driven.”
Good friend Guillermo del Toro says of him:
“He uses the most complex, challenging aspects of his films to frame the most fragile human one. In his Terminator films, Aliens, The Abyss, True Lies, Titanic, and now in Avatar, he enshrines the steely willpower of his heroes, yes – but also their identifiable flaws.”
Consider Ripley’s Power Loaded maternal smackdown with the Alien Queen (“Get away from her, you bitch!“); Sarah Connor’s evolution from plucky, put upon waitress to gutsy legend in the making (“On your feet, Reese. Move it, soldier!“); Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s tough Lindsey was based on Cameron’s then wife, producer Gale Anne Hurd ; even Titanic‘s Rose (Kate Winslet), willing to defy society’s convention and determined to survive. Even his alien heroes are now badass females – it is Avatar‘s Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who pins villain Quaritch to his Amp-suit, the flesh vs machine fight of Aliens reversed, “Ferngully with better effects“, as he joked to nervous studio executives.
Cameron told Total Film, “I admire women. I think it’s an area that Hollywood just doesn’t deal with very well. There are films that are for mass consumption and in them the women are generally super-sexy and one-dimensional. Interestingly, the young male is fascinated by the idea of women, but also fascinated by the idea of fantasy characters that are warriors and things like that, so you conflate the two.”
He goes on to describe what makes a great action sequence:
“There are two things missing when I watch a lot of action these days. One is that I don’t care about the characters, and there isn’t a lucidity to what’s happening – what is the goal, what are these people trying to accomplish? It’s Narrative 101. The other thing that gets ignored is the length of time it takes a virgin pair of eyeballs and visual cortex to take in an image, assimilate it, relate it to images that have gone before. Lots of action films these days have many small cuts in a sequence. I’s just chopped salad.
I’ve found there’s a process by which the eye is already moving, ready for the thing that is going to happen next after the cut. So what I do is – an I’m giving away a little trick here – is I just flop the work print in the projector and watch the film in mirror image. You really see where your eyeballs have been conditioned to look in a place, but now it’s happening over there, it’s like, “Whoa!””
And on that note, let’s take a look at some of his greatest action sequences.
Originally posted 2014-07-19 18:11:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter