The Films of James Cameron

Critical Essays

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About the Book

Among the most expensive—and most profitable—films of all time, the works of James Cameron have had a profound effect upon popular culture and the technology of moviemaking. Yet the very blockbuster nature of his films means that the political commentary, cultural discourse and rich symbolism within the works are often overlooked. From The Terminator to Avatar, the director has evinced a persistence of themes, concerns and visions that capture the contemporary zeitgeist. This collection of essays on James Cameron’s films, written by a diverse group of scholars from a wide range of disciplines, provides a comprehensive exploration of the work and legacy of one of America’s foremost filmmakers.

About the Author(s)

Matthew Wilhelm Kapell worked in the Media and War & Society programs at Swansea University, United Kingdom. He lives in Roseville, California.
Stephen McVeigh is a lecturer in the Department of Political and Cultural Studies at Swansea University. He has written extensively on the representation of war in film and literature.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and Stephen McVeigh
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 239
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6279-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8754-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Introduction: Persistence of Visions—Approaching the Films of James Cameron

STEPHEN MCVEIGH AND MATTHEW WILHELM KAPELL      1

Surveying James Cameron’s Reluctant Political Commentaries: 1984–2009

STEPHEN MCVEIGH AND MATTHEW WILHELM KAPELL      15

Fighting the History Wars on the Big Screen: From The Terminator to Avatar

ACE G. PILKINGTON      44

“She’s a goddamn liar”: Perspectives on the Truth in Aliens and Titanic

ANDREW B. R. ELLIOTT      72

Art, Image and Spectacle in High Concept Cinema

BRUCE ISAACS      90

“You have to look with better eyes than that”: A Filmmaker’s Ambivalence to Technology

ELIZABETH ROSEN      109

“So, what’s your story?” Morphing Myths and Feminizing Archetypes from The Terminator to Avatar

DEAN CONRAD      124

Between Aliens and Avatar: Mapping the Shifting Terrain of the Struggle for Women’s Rights

ELISA NARMINIO AND MATTHEW WILHELM KAPELL      146

Terminators, Aliens, and Avatars: The Emergence of Archetypal Homosexual Themes in a Filmmaker’s Imagination

ROGER KAUFMAN      167

“I see you”: Colonial Narratives and the Act of Seeing in Avatar

JOHN JAMES AND TOM UE      186

Gonzalo Guerrero and the Maya Resistance to the Spanish Conquistadors: A Sixteenth Century “Avatar” of Avatar

C. SCOTT LITTLETON      200

Conclusion: Seeing the Films of James Cameron Mythically

MATTHEW WILHELM KAPELL AND STEPHEN MCVEIGH      216

About the Contributors      221

Index      225

Book Reviews & Awards

“a noteworthy and important addition to a lively ongoing conversation”—The Journal of Popular Culture; “the book clearly explores how Cameron’s films are a construction of their times, responding to a wide range of political cultural, and social influences”—Science Fiction Studies.