The Terminator franchise may have hit a rough patch with the last four movies, but to science fiction fans the world over it’s still got an awful lot going for it – most notably the first two movies: The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991); both movies have managed to capture the hearts, minds and imaginations of the audience whilst bringing something new to the sci-fi genre.
Though Terminator Fans will be aware of creator James Cameron‘s many inspirations for his love of science fiction, there has always seemed to be an inextricable link between the first Terminator movie and Michael Crichton‘s Westworld (1973), a link which has seemingly only strengthened with time, as the connective tissue between the two legendary franchises becomes almost inescapable.
Inspiring Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 Performance
Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been very open about what inspired him to play the titular character in James Cameron‘s The Terminator, and one of his biggest influences was legendary actor Yul Brynner as the menacingly iconic killer android the Gunslinger, in Westworld.
In a 1984 interview with Fangoria magazine, Arnold told writer R.H Martin that:
“This film is also in some ways comparable to Westworld; my character is in some ways like the Yul Brynner character in that film – and my approach to the Terminator is partly based on what Brynner did in that role.”Arnold Schwarzenegger to Fangoria
In 2016 Arnold Schwarzenegger enlarged upon the story a little more, explaining that whilst at a lunch with James Cameron to discuss the potential role of Kyle Reese, Arnold found himself enamoured with the title character of the Terminator – his reasoning? It might have had something to do with the Gunslinger…
“Well, when I read it – it just happens to be that, not too long ago, I saw the movie Westworld with Yul Brynner, who played a machine, and uh, he played this- the toughest of the toughest, you know Yul Brynner’s a fantastic actor and he did play a fantastic- toughest kind of cowboy and shooter, and when he was in the bar and I saw him, the way he acted… everything was kind of off because it was not like a human being but you couldn’t identify really- there’s something wrong here, but you couldn’t identify exactly what it was. Until later on, when you saw that at night they took them apart and they fixed the machines… [I] said ‘that’s what it was’, I knew the way his eye movement was, the way his head was kind of a little bit more jerky and every move was a little off. So I remember all that and I was fascinated by that, because I’d never seen that on film, someone acting like a machine. So I told James Cameron, I said ‘Look, there’s this one thing that you’ve got to make sure of is that – whoever plays Terminator, and I heard it’s O.J. Simpson,’ I said, ‘but whoever plays it, you’ve got to train them to be a machine. Not to act like a machine. To be a machine.’ He says ‘What do you mean by that?’ I said ‘Well,’ I said ‘for instance’ I said, ‘there’s scenes in there with guns and weapons,’ I said ‘he cannot go and look down and have the magazine be put into the gun, or look down when he puts the bullets into the magazine and all of this stuff,’ I said ‘he has to- this has to be done like a machine. So therefore he has to train himself blindfolded, he cannot see what he is doing so that while he’s talking he has to be going on then *ch cht* and put it away. Everything automatic. The way he steps on the motorcycle – it’s not looking down on the stand, to get the stand out, none of that can happen’. So I kept talking like that the whole lunch.”Arnold Schwarzenegger to Graham Bensinger | Transcribed by TheTerminatorFans.com
Gunslinger Vision Vs Terminator HUD
Westworld is also notable for being the first instance of computer generated imagery in movies – you will no doubt remember the iconic Gunslinger vision (similar to what Terminator Fans will recognise as Terminator vision HUD) which was used to give the audience the perspective of the murderous Gunslinger.
Michael Crichton’s script for Westworld described the vision of the Gunslinger as:
A “computerized image of the world”, “flashed-up calculated figures” and “shifting green tones which apparently represent shifts in the Gunslinger’s concentration.”
Crichton tried a Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California to find out if he could get the results he envisioned for his villain’s robotic perspective, but was quoted $200,000 for nine months of work which would ultimately add up to only two minutes of animation.
Following that setback, Crichton contacted John Hales Whitney, Senior. who is widely accepted as a pioneer of computer animation – one of Whitney Senior’s most notable works being that of the animated title sequence from Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1958 movie ‘Vertigo‘. Whitney Senior then suggested his son, John Whitney Junior for the task.
Whitney Junior agreed to carry out the work required over the course of four months, for the much lower price of $20,000.
John Whitney Junior digitally processed the motion picture photography at Information International, Inc – the result was pixelized to depict the Gunslinger’s vision and point of view.
“Verb: pixelize ‘pik-su,lIz. Divide an image into pixels; represent an image using an array of pixels. – pixilate, pixelate, pixellate, pixelise. Show part of image using only a few large pixels, e.g. to disguise someone’s identity. – pixilate, pixelate, pixellate, pixelise.”WordWebOnline
The duration of the animation was two minutes and thirty one seconds, and was achieved by the process of color separating each frame of 70 mm film images, each element was then scanned and converted into rectangular blocks, with basic color added and the tone values developed.
The Westworld Remake Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold then signed on to produce and star in a Warner Bros. remake of the Michael Crichton science fiction classic back in 2002, which was set to be written by Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines writers Michael Ferris and John Bracanto:
“I am very excited to be working on ‘Westworld. I loved the original film when I saw it in 1973 and have wanted to remake it for several years. After following the project for some time, I am really thrilled it has finally come together at Warner Bros.”Arnold Schwarzenegger to Variety
The Warner Bros. remake eventually stalled, but news of the production resurfaced in 2007 when Terminator: Dark Fate writer Billy Ray was then slated to write the script.
It appears that Westworld creator, Michael Crichton, had also been approached about returning to draft the script for the remake – Billy Ray stated:
“My understanding is that he [Crichton] was offered the chance to do the first draft of this remake a few years ago, and his response was, ‘I already remade that movie; the remake was called Jurassic Park‘”.Billy Ray told Sci Fi Wire
Was Terminator creator and director, James Cameron, influenced by Crichton’s Westworld? Interestingly enough Mr. Cameron tried to buy the rights to, what Crichton deemed his West World ‘remake’; Jurassic Park.
Back in 2012 Mr. Cameron told Huffpost that:
“I tried to buy the book rights and he [Steven Spielberg] beat me to it by a few hours. But when I saw the film, I realised that I was not the right person to make the film, he was. Because he made a dinosaur movie for kids, and mine would have been ‘Aliens’ with dinosaurs, and that wouldn’t have been fair.”James Cameron told Huffpost
The Westworld HBO TV Series
The 2016 HBO series Westworld was created (based on the works of Michael Crichton) by Jonathan Nolan (or Jonah Nolan as he is also known), Jonah previously wrote on Terminator Salvation for McG – though Mr. Nolan didn’t receive a formal writing credit for T4 due to criteria from the Writers Guild of America. Ultimately the credit went to John Brancato and Michael Ferris, the writers of Terminator 3.
The Terminator connection doesn’t end there folks…
The 13th Warrior
Michael Crichton’s 1976 novel ‘Eaters of the Dead’ chronicles the journey of an Arab man who travels with a group of Vikings to their home, and along the way agrees to fight alongside them against mysterious, bloodthirsty creatures.
The novel was set to be made into a movie back in 1979, which was to be produced by Orion Pictures (the distribution company behind 1984’s The Terminator) with Crichton directing, but this was eventually dropped – only to be picked up again in 1997 with John McTiernan in the director’s seat. The movie, written by Terminator co-writer William Wisher Jr. and produced by Andy Vajna (Terminator 3, T:SCC and Terminator Salvation), was titled ‘The 13th Warrior‘ and starred Antonio Banderas.
It’s been forty-nine years since the 1973 hit movie based on an amusement park of androids which malfunction with horrific consequences, Westworld, hit theaters, but the sci-fi classic has left a huge impression on film and entertainment. The movie, which was filmed in just thirty days and was MGM’s (the owner of Orion Pictures) biggest box-office success of 1973, was only Michael Crichton’s second directing stint, the first being an ABC movie of the week.
It’s easy to see that Westworld has had a lasting impact on the world of Terminator – with numerous people involved in the Terminator franchise having found themselves drawn back to the classic science fiction / fantasy worlds of Michael Crichton; and most notably Westworld.
Is The Terminator (1984) a love letter to West World?
MichaelCrichton.com states of the Gunslinger that:
“Westworld’s Gunslinger Robot is the predecessor of Darth Vader in Star Wars. It is the predecessor of The Terminator. It is the predecessor of all the Boss villains, the unbeatable super opponents, that came after 1973.”MichaelCrichton.com
Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores Abernathy in the HBO series Westworld), was also previously rumored to have auditioned to play Sarah Connor in 2015‘s Terminator Genisys.
Josh Brolin (son of West World actor James Brolin) was director McG‘s first choice for John Connor in Terminator Salvation.
Josh Brolin stated:
“They said: ‘Do you wanna do this thing? Do you want to do Terminator Salvation?’ (which was released in 2009) and I was, like: ‘No, I really don’t’”Josh Brolin
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