This “nightmare” inspired James Cameron to make one of his best films

This nightmare inspired James Cameron to make one of his

James Cameron has a rich imagination that he has used to create blockbusters that have become immense classics of the seventh art. And his inspiration often comes from his dreams, or his nightmares.

James Cameron is undoubtedly the king of the box office, in addition to being a storyteller who is definitely unique in the film industry. It is no surprise that his rich and abundant work gave rise to a unique exhibition which deciphers his art at the Cinémathèque française in Paris. The opportunity for fans of the seventh art, but also for those who have been lulled by Titanic, Avatar, Abyss or even the Terminatorto dive back into his films and their behind-the-scenes production.

Throughout the exhibition, it is possible to discover certain secrets of the Canadian master and the themes that run through his work. Dreams also have a preponderant place there, since they directly inspire some of his films. If James Cameron had already revealed that he had dreamed of a bioluminescent forest when he was 19 years old, which inspired the planet Pandora ofAvatar, it is not the only one of his works taken straight from his nocturnal wanderings.


In this exhibition at the Cinémathèque française, we learn that the director had dreamed of the T-800 even before the film saw the light of day. James Cameron says he dreamed of “a chrome skeleton emerging from a wall of fire.” This “nightmare” appeared to him while he was working in Rome on the post-production of the film Piranha IIin the 1980s, “then [qu’il était] poor and feverish”. He then made a drawing to remember this nightmare, and began working on what would become, in 1984, the unforgettable Terminator.

James Cameron was also able to expand on the tenuous relationship between his dreams and the creation of his films during a press conference which followed the presentation of the exhibition, this Wednesday, April 3 : “I just dreamed of this image, but I knew that it actually represented a man, covered in plastic, who had burned and that we now saw this chrome skeleton. I think there is something something very interesting in this dream process, because it hides a narrative behind each image, which we then interpret on different levels. If James Cameron admits that “dreams are wonderful engines of creation”, he nevertheless admits “that they are not always very reliable astools”, since he never dreams of the film he is working on.”

Unfortunately, the drawing that inspired Terminator has disappeared. James Cameron says the original was stolen from his studio, and “it’s probably going to resurface on eBay one day, when [il sera] death”, it is specified on an explanatory sign during the exhibition. A reproduction is however visible at the Cinémathèque, until January 5, 2025.