Sarah Connor was living her life like any material girl in the 1984; she waitressed by day, laughed with her roommate Ginger and went out on dates. Then one day women named Sarah Connor began to be killed and her world was turned upside down. Out of nowhere Sarah finds out that a machine from the future, a terminator has been sent through time to kill her because she will give birth to a legendary leader named John Connor who will fight back against the machines when they cause a nuclear world and enslave the human race, and in the future he is on the verge of winning. Sarah finds out that she is the one that trains him to become this great leader, military warrior and savior of man kind. After that day Sarah Connor’s life changed forever – and so did cinema.
Sarah Connor is one of the most respected strong women of cinema; she is a legendary character and one in a long line of leading strong women led by James Cameron. What makes the character of Sarah Connor remarkable is not one thing but many, and it all starts with The Terminator. Never before had such a strong yet feminine woman been brought to the screen; Connor wasn’t strong in the say Kathryn Hepburn was strong, she was strong in a whole new way. She learned how to make plastic explosives, field dress wounds and fight for humanity.
Every time I watch The Terminator I am amazed at how natural Cameron and Linda Hamilton make Sarah Connor’s transformation from simple citizen to guerilla warrior. One would think that to make that dramatic a change it would be clunky and sudden, but it is not. Even before she knew the definition of an H.K. and T-101 Sarah could defend herself, think on her feet, and by the end of the film she is motivating the soldier sent back to protect her, and fighting against the machines herself.
In The Terminator Cameron creates not just Sarah Connor, but an entire world with a future so bleak that an entire new avenue was opened in science fiction. Time travel tales had been told before, but never in such a way as he told them. The Terminator sets up an entire world that we cannot see, a heroine that grows to greatness before us and the possibility of a leader even greater than this heroine. Cameron creates a way for the future to crash into the present with the idea that they are so linked together that neither the viewer or the characters can truly know if anything they do will actually change the future or if their actions are creating the future they dread. It was unique when the franchise began and remains fresh and vibrant to this day.
While The Terminator is arguably a franchise fueled by testosterone one must never forget that like just a John Connor was trained by his mother, Terminator was built by Sarah Connor.
Director: James Cameron
Writers: James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd
The Terminator: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Kyle Reese: Michael Biehn
Sarah Connor: Linda Hamilton
Detective Vukovich: Lance Henrickson
Dr. Silberman: Earl Boen
Punk Leader: Bill Paxton
Kyle Reese: Some of us were kept alive... to work... loading bodies into dumpsters and incinerators. The disposal units ran night and day. We were that close to going out forever. But there was one man who taught us to fight, to storm the wire of the camps, to smash those metal motherfuckers into junk. He turned it around. He brought us back from the brink. His name is Connor. John Connor. Your son, Sarah, your unborn son.