SCRIPT: "TERMINATOR" by James Cameron


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CUT IN BLACK TO CITY RUINS, 2029 - NIGHT: Black sky. Stars. With a roar an AERIAL PATROL CRAFT enters close overhead. It has flashing red and blue lights and powerful searchlights which stab down. TILT DOWN to a vista of moonlit devastation. White ash blows in drifts among fire-gutted ruins. Blackened bones lie everywhere in heaps. Searchlights sweep the night. Another aerial unit hovers several blocks away, firing tracers into the ruins.

CUT TO RUINS/STREET - NIGHT: LOW ANGLE as a gleaming chrome H-K grinds through the debris of the shattered street on its tank-like tracks, crushing burnt skulls. Its head turns slowly, playing high-intensity lights over the buildings. Its hydraulic arms are folded, mantis-like, against its 'torso'. After it passes a number of human figures dart from shadow to shadow, B.G.

CUT TO TUNNELS - NIGHT: Reese is among a SQUAD OF MEN in black fatigues, carrying equipment and energy rifles, who enter a debris-littered tunnel. PANAGLIDE WITH THEM as they trot through a labyrinth of tunnels, pass several guard-posts. Reese has a GERMAN SHEPHERD on a short leash.

CUT TO PARKING STRUCTURE - NIGHT: The platoon enters a cavernous chamber, an old parking structure, in which a large group is gathering. As the entrance, ARMED SENTRIES with dogs are passing in new arrivals: men wearing mismatched uniforms or rags and carrying all types of weapons from lasers to shotguns. Weapons are left at the sentry post.

FOLLOWING REESE as he patrols the perimeter. He walks along a row of CARS, models from the eighties and nineties, now stripped, rusty and modified to carry weapons. There are conventional military vehicles as well. He passes several family groups. Gaunt kids are huddles around an old TV SET. Its glow bathes them.

REVERSE ANGLE reveals that the set has been gutted and a small cookfire crackles inside the shell. Nearby a kid has a LARGE RAT cornered and is whacking it with a stick. Reese pauses at the end of the row of vehicles and unsnaps a pocket in his tunic, removing a small paper rectangle, a worn photograph. C.U. - REESE, gazing down. His head snaps around at the sudden sound of BARKING. ANGLE ON SENTRY POST as the dogs go crazy.

SENTRY (shouting): Terminator!


An innocuous, rag-dressed man flips back his poncho to reveal a powerful plasma-rifle. He opens fire, running forward. Energy bolts rip into the crowd. Moving with Reese, running toward the Terminator. Powerbolts explode among the fleeing people. Beams sear the darkness. A running child is burst by a plasma hit. Reese, running, levels his energy-rifle and starts firing. A powerbolt grazes his cheek, exploding a support column behind him.


Part of the roof collapses as Reese tumbles. Everything is lit as if by lightning. Reese, semi-conscious. Burned. Bleeding. Impressions implode on him: running feet, flashes, energy beams raking the ground leaving molten worm-tracks, screaming, a burning dog howling. The picture Reese has been looking at has fallen, forgotten. It catches fire and starts to curl. Before the image vanishes we see that it is a picture of Sarah.


Reese looks up. A figure looms above, a silhouette in the smoky, hellish glare. The Terminator. Its eyes glow red. A brilliant explosion whites out the screen.


In the culvert, Sarah is brightly lit by daylight, asleep. She grimaces and groans. In the distance a dog is barking. Reese, still holding her, lightly lifts her hair from her face. An uncharacteristically tender gesture. He gently caresses her cheek with the backs of his fingers. When she awakens suddenly he snaps his hand away. Sarah looks around, momentarily disoriented. Looks up at Reese.

SARAH: I was dreaming about dogs.

Reese extricates himself from her and steps out of the culvert.

REESE: We used them to spot Terminators.

Sarah groans as she straightens her legs.

SARAH: Your world...it's pretty terrifying.

Sarah catches up to him just as he is about to try and stop an approaching car. She pulls his gun hand down with both of hers.

SARAH: Put that away. I'll get one.

She hold out her thumb to passing traffic. Reese watches this incomprehensible ceremony skeptically.

SARAH (continuing): This works...really.

Reese and Sarah are crammed into the cab of a beat-to-hell pickup truck with the driver, obviously a surfer. Laid-back, long-haired and well-tanned. Reese glowers and watches the scenery through slitted eyes.

DRIVER: ...and when it breaks right off the point they get some pretty rad tubes up there. Not awesome, but I mean, worth the drive, if you're hardcore like me.

REESE (to Sarah): Rad tubes?

SARAH (to Reese): He's a surfer.

DRIVER: You from back East or something?

SARAH: No, he's from the future.

DRIVER: Whoah. I hear that. . . . . Listen, I had a rough bag some Z's.

They pull off the highway toward a gas station/rest area.

CUT TO SERVICE STATION - DAY: The gas station is like an oasis of clutter in a rolling stretch of meadows and woods. It consists of a bunker- like building with restrooms and a flanking PICNIC AREA, beyond which are WOODS. People sit under the trees, enjoying the beautiful day while children tear around after the forced inactivity of a long trip. The three of them get out on unsteady legs.

DRIVER: You can still ride if you wanna hang out for a couple hours.

SARAH: Thanks.

REESE: Bag some Z's?

SARAH: Let's get cleaned up, Kyle.

She heads for the WOMEN'S RESTROOM and Kyle follows her inside.

REESE (pushing him out): Yours is over there.

Instead of following her directions to the Men's Room, Kyle wanders toward the drinking fountain. A bunch of kids are running around and throwing water at each other with paper cups. Reese shambles through them like a zombie. He stands among the children, an alien in this land without fear. He watches people at picnic tables laughing and listening to portable music. Kids squeal. Dogs bark.

LITTLE GIRL (V.O.): Can you get my balloon?

DOWN ANGLE on an achingly beautiful LITTLE GIRL of about four. She points above his head. Reese looks up to see a helium-filled mylar balloon stuck in the foliage of a tree just above him. He pulls it down by the string and holds it, turning it over dully. He crouches down to her eye-level. She smiles.

REESE: Aren't you afraid to be out in the open like this?

LITTLE GIRL: Huh?

Reese whirls reflexively at a SCREAM behind him. The mylar balloon bursts in his tense hands. A teenage girl is being doused with water by the boys with plastic jugs. The little girl looks at the broken balloon, then glares at Reese. She punches him soundly on the shoulder and storms off. At this moment she is bowled over by an IRISH SETTER that licks her face while she shrieks with laughter. Reese seems about to smile but doesn't quite know how to go about it.


Service Station: Sarah is talking on an open pay phone.

SARAH: ...I know, Mom. As soon I get...I know. Mom...Mom, I can't talk long now. No, I am okay, I'm just not supposed to be talking to anybod. . . . . Okay, I want you to listen.

I want you to grab a few things and I want you to go up to the cabin for a few days. . . . No, don't tell anybody where you are going. I just want you to do it. Okay, I can't talk right now, I'll talk to you later if I can. . . I gotta go, bye.


Sarah is idly leafing through the directory. On a whim she looks up something. She freezes for a moment when she finds the listing. Sarah's finger points to a listing which reads: Cyber Dynamics Corporation, 18144 El Camino Real, S'Vale. Then with a triumphant expression she rips the page out of the book.


Sarah approaches Reese who has given up on trying to get an old truck running. He brandishes his gun and they both move on.

REESE: Come on, we gotta get a car.

SARAH: No, put away the gun. . . I can get us a ride. . . I can,

She shows him the phone book page.

SARAH: Look what I found. Isn't that it? Cyber Dynamics Corporation?

REESE: What's that?

He grabs the page and inspects it.


SARAH: Cyber Dynamics Corporation? Isn't that it?

REESE: What about it?

SARAH: Listen to this. They develop this revolutionary new thing. This uhh. . . .

REESE: Molecular-memory.

SARAH: Right. So, they become the hotshot computer guys so they get to develop this thing for the government. Right?

REESE (uneasy): Right, yea, that's the way it was told to me.

SARAH: Well, we can Eighty-six the bastard. We can blow it up, it will never happen.

REESE (very cold): No, that's tactically dangerous. We lay low.


SARAH: No! Think it through. We can prevent the war. There's nobody. If we go to somebody official we end up back in jail again and he's got us again. We've got to do it ourselves.

REESE: That's not my mission.

SARAH (upset, mocking his manner): Listen. Understand. I am not a military objective, I'm a person...and you don't own me.

REESE: Let's go.

SARAH: Fuck you! Let me go!

REESE (warning tone): Sarah! . . . . Sarah!

In a woods clearing, Sarah runs down the path. Reese tackles her from behind and they fall together in the long spring grass. She struggles violently to get away.

REESE: Sarah!

SARAH: No! Let...go...bastard...


Reese takes her arm and pulls her to her feet. She jerks her arm free, spins, and whacks him hard in the face. Reese reacts instinctively, leaping back in a defensive crouch. Sarah freezes when she sees the .357 in his hand.

SARAH (scared, but angry): That's real brilliant. Go on, shoot. That's smart.

Reese is trembling as he lowers the gun. Sarah too is shaking with emotion. Tears roll down her cheeks and her voice cracks.

SARAH (continuing): Jesus Christ, Reese. Can't you see I'm scared?

He straightens up and his arms go limp at his sides. He turns away.

SARAH (continuing): I don't want to spend my whole life waiting for that thing to catch up to me...always looking over my shoulder, wondering if I left some tiny clue behind...


Reese doesn't respond. The gun slips from his fingers. His will seems to drain from him and he sags to his knees. The moment stretches. There is only the sunlight moving in shafts through the leaves, the sound of a small stream nearby, birds chirping.

SARAH: Reese? . . . Reese?

She moves over to him. A tear meanders down his cheek.

REESE (a whisper): I don't belong here. I wasn't meant to see this... It's like a dream. This...this...

He gestures at their surroundings. He touches the grass.

REESE (continuing): ...and you...all so beautiful. It hurts, Sarah. It hurts so bad.


He looks are her beseechingly.

REESE (continuing): You can't understand...it's gone...all gone! All of it! ... It's gone.

SARAH: Well, we can change it, Kyle. We have to at least try.

She takes his shoulder in her hands.

SARAH (continuing): There's no fate but what we make for ourselves. Right? Come on, kiddo. Whaddya say?

REESE (nodding yes): Okay.

They look at each other for a second, then get up.




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