Saturday, March 06, 2010

James Cameron's machines

A nice essay on James Cameron and Avatar in the NY Review of Books.

The Wizard: ... The fascination with the seeming invincibility of sophisticated mechanical objects, and an accompanying desire to slough off human flesh for metal (and a celebration of flesh so taut it may as well be metal: Cameron's camera loves to linger on the tightly muscled bodies, male and female, of the soldiers so often featured in his violent films), is a recurrent theme in the techno-blockbusters that cemented the director's reputation in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. Aliens famously ends with Weaver's character, Ellen Ripley, battling the dragonish alien monster queen after strapping herself into a giant forklift-like machine whose enormous pincers she mechanically controls by maneuvering her own slender arms—a technology that puts the puny human, finally, on a par with her gigantic, razor-toothed, acid-bleeding adversary.

... A violent variation on the same mechanical bodysuits reappears, memorably, in Avatar, which culminates in a scene of bloody single combat between a Na'vi warrior and the evil Marine colonel, who has strapped himself into one such machine. If anything, the recurrent motif of humans inserting themselves into mechanical contraptions in order to enjoy superhuman powers reaches its fullest, most sophisticated expression in the new movie, whose characters can literally become other, superhuman beings by hooking themselves up to elaborate machines. All this seems to bear out the underlying truth of a joke that Linda Hamilton, the actress who played Sarah Connor in the Terminator movies, told about her first, unhappy interactions with the director (whom she later married and divorced): "That man is definitely on the side of the machines."

5 comments:

gs said...

Obviously I've heard about the movie but I haven't seen it yet.

I pour a lot of salt over Ray Kurzweil's pronouncements before swallowing them.

Notwithstanding the above caveats, this rings truer than the NYRB piece. (NB: My opinion of The Singularity is Near is much more restrained than than Instapundit's.)

Max said...

Cameron's Terminator first terminator movie is my #1 movie of all time for several reasons.

And one chief reason is gritty powerful portrayal of the machines. It contains two classic scenes of absolute dominance and superiority of AI never seen anywhere else - the police station shootout , and often overlooked , terminator bunker infiltration.


I was thinking about singularity years before I read any of Kurzweil book because of that movie.

I dont know whether Cameron is on the "machines side" (given his hippy gaia avatar movie) , but he created the most powerful AI image in cinema thats for sure

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