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    Film Techniques of James Cameron Essay

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    James Cameron was born on August 16, 1954 in Ontario Canada. He later moved to California in 1971 to attend California State University to major in Physics.

    After leaving college, he decided to do pursue his passion for screenwriting. Eventually, in 1978, he got his first job as a miniature set builder for the movie Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). He later then got his first real directing job for the movie Piranha Part Two: The Spawning(1981). Throughout Cameron’s directing career, he has won many awards for his films. For one of his most famous movies, Titanic, he had won an Academy Award for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Film Editing. Another of his famous movies, Avatar, he had won a Golden Globe for best director.

    He has won awards from all over the world including; Norway, France and the UK. With many awards under his belt it only goes to show that he has amazing film technique and creative ideas that are brought to table in the film industry. Three of Cameron’s most famous films are Titanic, Avatar and the Terminator trilogy . In most of the James Cameron films, he tends to stick to the genre of Science Fiction. In two of his major movies, Terminator and Avatar they were Science Fiction.

    His intended audience often changes. With the movie Terminator, it is an adult intended audience with the dynamic plot line and a lot of killing and action scenes. In Avatar, it is more of a mystical universe with different creatures and that is directed to young adults and teenagers. Titanic is a movie more geared towards adults. Titanic however is not a science fiction movie, it is based on a real event that happened many years ago.

    Terminator (1984) is a movie about a robot that is sent back into the past to kill a women by the name of Sarah Conner. In the future, Sarah Conner gives birth to her son, John Conner, who then grows up to save the human race after the nuclear holocaust. The Terminator is a robot designed to look and act like a human and will stop at nothing to kill Sarah Conner. The Terminator has a famous line that almost anyone can recognize is, “I’ll be back”. A man by the name of Kyle Reese volunteers to go back into the past the save Sarah from being killed. Kyle was one of the men that was saved by John, Sarah’s son.

    Kyle and Sarah grow close till a tragic ending happens that is unexpected. Something that gives this film so much suspense and action is the film techniques that Cameron used. There was a lot of laser and lightening special effects that look like a glimpse into the future. The choice of intense music increased the tension in the action scenes, then creating a dramatic reaction from all the viewers. Throughout the movie there are many jump-cuts during the action scene to show the fast-paced activity on the screen. Most of the shots are mid shots, showing the characters only partially.

    Lighting played a very big part in the suspense aspect of the film. Majority of the film was shot in low light giving the vibe that the next thing that could happen is unexpected. The lead actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, played a vital role that only he could do. Schwarzenegger played the terminator who had a very powerful characteristics, which is why he was a perfect fit. The techniques played a huge role in the reaction of the viewers and Cameron did an outstanding job in creating a sense of action and suspense throughout the film. In the fast-paced and exciting film, many critics had positive reviews.

    From IMDb, it was given 8. 1 out of 10 stars with over 400,000 votes. Overall, I’m not a major fan of science fiction films, however I did like the complexity and suspense it created. It was very well directed and the special effects and sounds effects gave the film a sense of action and suspense that always kept the viewers on the edge of their seats. Alan Jones, from Radio Times wrote, “Wittily written with a nice eye for sharp detail, it’s hard sci-fi action all the way. ” According to Rotten Tomatoes, reviewers said it was a “scary vision of a bleak post-apocalyptic future and a terrifying, indestructible villain”(Carlos Magalhaes).

    The Terminator trilogy is a very well liked series by majority of the viewers. In a James Cameron’s film, Avatar, (2009) is a movie about a former paraplegic Marine, named Jake Sully who then travels to the distant land of Pandora. His body is in a machine that transforms him into an avatar where he then can interact with other avatars. The land of Pandora is a mystical land that is made up of unusual plants and animals and different tribes that speak different languages. The scientists Jake is working with want him the help further their research of avatars. The Marine corporate have an alternate plan for Jake and that is to find out everything he can about the Avatar tribe, “Na’vi” to then have them taken out and destroyed so the Marines can have the rich mineral called “unobtanium”.

    After Jake learns the life of the “Na’vi” tribe and is accepted into it, he becomes very close to them and then turns his back on the Marines and tries to help the tribe save Pandora. All the avatar tribes, including Jake, join together to fight against the Marine corporate to save their sacred land of Pandora. This film is very similar to Terminator in the sense of film techniques. Like the Terminator film techniques and special effects played a huge role in the outcome of this film. This film was designed to be fresh and original.

    During the movie, when Jake was in the real world, it was shot in low light. This aspect is very important because it shows that the lighting resembles that what the Marine corporate were doing was very dark and harmful to others. In the land of Pandora, it was shot it bright natural light to show the majestic and innocent qualities of the land. There are many actions scenes throughout the movie that Jake is involved in. When Jake first encounters the land of Pandora he is faced with the obstacles of different creatures he has to fight off.

    During the action scenes, there are many jump cuts to show all that is going on and also give a sense of fast pace activity. Cameron also chose to use subjective camera usage when Jake was riding the animals in the air to make it so the audience was riding it too. Many of the shots were extreme wide shots of Pandora showing the scenery and established the location of where they were. Cameron did a great job with the overall picture of the film, the storyline was very complex and appealed to different age groups for all to enjoy. As for critic and audience reviews go, the movie was well liked and they enjoyed the action and mystical aspects of the film.

    The abstract ideas and creative qualities that were brought into this film helped it to become so well liked. According to Rotten Tomatoes, critics gave Avatar a 7. 4 out of 10. David Edelstein of the New York Magazine said, “Avatar is dizzying, enveloping, vertiginous. . .

    I ran out of adjectives an hour into its 161 minutes. ” With such positive review from the critic, it only showed to be the same opinion with the audience. Matthew Samuel Mirliani had said the movie was, “Ambitious and well-produced, Avatar features state-of-the-arts effects. ” I loved watching Avatar, the land of Pandora and the way Jake and grown so close to the “Na’vi” tribe made the viewers root for them to win.

    As I stated earlier, the effects played a tremendous part the film and how the viewers reacted to the characters and the plot of the movie. Cameron’s most famous film, Titanic (1997) was a different genre then the two previous. Titanic is based on an event that happened in April of 1912. Rose DeWitt Bukater and Jake Dawson both set out on the known to be “unsinkable” ship.

    However, Jake and Rose did not go on this trip together. Rose went with her high class, demanding fiance and wanted to get away from him. Rose had enough and was ready to end her life by jumping off the front of the boat till third class passenger, Jake Dawson, came and saved her. Rose got a taste of was real life was like without having to act like royalty.

    They further pursued each other on the ship till a tragic event had occurred. The “unsinkable” ship had hit a large ice berg and punctured the side of the bow. While everyone on board was shaking the accident off their shoulders, little did they know that the workmen in the basement were actually drowning and scrambling to let everyone know that the Titanic is about to sink. Jake and Rose stuck by each other’s side and did not part from eachother, they fought every obstacle together. It even included them almost drowning on the ship in the freezing cold waters. This heart- wrenching love story, based on a true event the ending will surprise the viewers and pull their emotional heart strings.

    Cameron did a fantastic job with film techniques in Titanic. Cameron tried really hard to show the beauty of the ship and all the fine details of the boat. He did quite a few shots of panning around special features of the room so the audience could get a better glimpse of what the ship was really like. Something interesting about the Titanic was it was a movie about Rose DeWitt Bukater telling her story from the past. It was like a story within a story. Throughout the movie there were many shots of the camera panning the room to the audience could understand the atmosphere.

    Most of the shots were in natural lighting until the ship had hit the iceberg. I think that’s an important factor because the lighting resembles how dark and tragic the event was when it had occurred. There was a lot of movement on the ship and traveling around with one another. Cameron showcased that by traveling with camera behind the characters to give a sense of enthusiasm on the ship.

    It showed how fast-paced and lively the ship was. One special effect was when the ship had sunk there were dead bodies in the water and their hair was freezing with fog in their breath. Cameron made it look so real, like they were actually freezing in the water and the bodies were actual real bodies. Certain effects like that got the powerful message across to the viewers and I believe that is very important. One thing that is very memorable about the film is the song choices.

    A very well known song, “My Heart Will Go On”, is a key part in remembering this movie and speaking to the audience. An interesting fact about this movie is that it was one of James Cameron’s favorite movies to do because he has a huge passion for scuba diving. The details in the movie could have been so great and precise for his passion of the ocean and being able to see the ship years after it had gone under. As far as critics go, the critics of IMDb gave the Titanic a 7. 7 out of 10.

    A lot of the critics mentioned how heart wrenching it was and how it tugged at so many emotions. Also the precision he gave to the actual ship. In the beginning of the movie, he showed under water clips of how the ship looks now after 82 years of being under water. Those images being compared to what Cameron had done in the film is extremely similar. I loved the movie, the love story of Jake and Rose is one of the most famous love stories that pops into peoples’ heads. I think that goes to show how well Cameron did in putting the movie together and portraying their love story.

    It was a very emotional film and with all the details and events shown made it all seem so legitimate and real. Titanic won three Academy Awards and with that being said it can only show that the movie had to be well liked by majority of the viewers. Describing the film, Desmond Ryan from the Philadelphia Inquirer said, “The execution is state-of-the-art and breathtaking. Titanic offers the full compass of courage and cowardice, and it stands as an achievement that truly is a night to remember at the movies.

    ” This describes the film very well in the aspects of how well the film was put together. Candy Rose said, “He reveals a love story between two classes on board the maiden voyage of the Titanic across the Atlantic. ” This shows the importance the love story has to the movie. With many awards and nominations for his spectacular and well-known films, James Cameron has had a very successful career. Something I picked up from watching the three movies was that he is very detailed and wants to get every bit of it on film.

    He tends to have longer films that run to almost three hours. If they’re not three hours there turned in to trilogies and broken up into shorter movies. Cameron is very into Sci-Fi and thinking outside the realm of possibilities. His movie ideas and storylines involve immense amounts of creativity and imagination.

    His movies showcase all of his strengths in movie making process. I think James Cameron is an outstanding director because he embodies well-rounded characteristics that some directors are incapable of obtaining. He followed his dream of directing movies and I think that is the smartest thing he could have done because his works of art have changed the movie-making business forever.


    Avatar (2009). Dir. James Cameron.

    Perf. Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, and Sigourney Weaver. 20th Century Fox, 2009. Film. “James Cameron.

    ” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 04 Jan.  2015.

    “James Cameron. ” IMDb. IMDb. com, n. d. Web.

    03 Jan. 2015. Terminator. Dir.

    James Cameron. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton. Metro Goldwyn Mayer, 1984. DVD.

    “The Terminator. ” Rotten Tomatoes. N. p. , n. d.

    Web. 4 Jan. 2015. Titanic.  Dir. James Cameron.

    Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 1997. Film. “Titanic. ” History.

    com. History, n. d. Web. 4 Jan.

    2015. “Titanic Movie vs. Titanic History – Pictures of the Real People, Survivors, Facts. ” ChasingtheFrog. com.

    IMDb, n. d. Web. 04 Jan.


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