Composer Brad Fiedel’s metallic, percussive score functions as a robotic heartbeat throughout James Cameron’s original hi-tech nightmare about a violent cyborg who is time-warped from the future in order to alter the course of history by killing the woman whose unborn son is destined to lead the human race in a future war against machines.
Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 in order to kill bewildered waitress Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who will unwittingly become the saviour of the human race. Skynet, a future artificial intelligence system that will spark a nuclear holocaust, has targeted Sarah because it knows that her as yet unborn son will lead a future fight against them. Sent to protect her is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), but with the virtually unstoppable Terminator in hot pursuit, they are up against it to ensure that events follow their pre-ordained course.
Composer Brad Fiedel would later reveal the crashing, metallic ruckus that formed the germ of the Terminator soundscape originally evolved from a score he was composing for a TV movie about Hitler’s last days. His score not only dramatised but brilliantly echoed that sense of a machine army in the ascendant and a vision of humanity being crushed by a malign artificial intelligence.