James Cameron’s five cult films
As the man in red, the 68-year-old director of Avatar: The Last Airbender, in theaters this Wednesday, December 14, has been consumed by three passions that have always fed each other: cinema, the oceans and technology.
Alien Return (1986)
Having studied physics at California State University, since his first films, James Cameron has combined the roles of special effects specialist, set designer, second unit director and chief cinematographer on certain scenes.
Sigourney Weaver has a special place in the second part of the “Alien” saga. The actress as Ellen Ripley accompanies a group of colonial marines to LV-426a, a terraformed human space colony that the Natives know nothing about and where they suspect the creature from the first film to be. the famous Alien. The sequel to “Alien, the Eighth Passenger” (directed by Ridley Scott 1979) was nominated for seven Oscars, winning them for best sound editing and best visual effects. New technologies, adventure and exploration: this cult film brings together all the ingredients of the director’s future big hits.
“The Cliff” (1989)
Always more. For his fourth film, The Cliff, James Cameron has no qualms about completely restoring a disused nuclear power plant to set up an underwater film set in South Carolina. It took the production team four months to build the film’s main set and five days to fill the unfinished reactor with 28 million liters of water to achieve the 13-meter-deep man-made basin the director was looking for. The latter solves another big technological challenge: shooting in a water universe. He and his brother Mike would build cameras that could shoot underwater, a great first for the time. If the film does not meet the expected public success, the visual prowess of certain scenes celebrates the spirits.
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” was the most expensive film in history with an investment of 102 million dollars when it was released. 3D animation and morphing (or morphosis, animation that changes one form into another in full fluidity): in this film, James Cameron multiplies the special effects and technological innovations of “Terminator 2”, the “villain”, the robot T-1000, so that it becomes a liquid chrome texture. Unheard of until then. The final chase, where the helicopter passes under the bridge, is one of the most striking scenes in modern cinema. It was filmed by the director himself from a motorcycle.
With the filming of “Titanic”, James Cameron returns to the abyss, his original passion. The third biggest worldwide success in the history of cinema, the budget of this film exceeds 200 million dollars, it blows away the budget of “Terminator 2”. It is also an opportunity for the director to gain new technological achievements. With the help of his engineer brother, he developed a camera that can withstand the pressure of the seabed in order to film the sinking of the ship from deep. And he had a scale replica of the liner built in Mexico based on the ship’s original plans. He told “Premiere” magazine in December 1997, “It’s like we built a 75-story building.”
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James Cameron broke new records with the first “Avatar”. At the time, it was the most expensive film in the history of cinema ($400 million compared to $200 for “Titanic”) (1) and also the biggest financial success. Thus, the blockbuster hit the ceiling reached by “Titanic” in 1997 with $2.92 billion against $2.2 billion.
It is also one of the most technologically advanced films at the time of its release. To produce this environmental tale in 3D, Cameron uses the largest room ever dedicated to filming, consisting entirely of computer-generated real scenes and scenes, in addition to hybrid filming that forces exhibitors to rethink their rooms to screen it. A movement called “Volume”. The director waited ten years to make the first Avatar: when it appeared on the screen, some did not hesitate to say that this film completely revolutionized cinema.