Costume Design

Deconstructing The Terminator

Make a note of this trench coat. It will come into play in Deconstructing The Terminator: Part 2!

I will watch pretty much any Terminator film. With Dark Fate out, I thought it might be fun to look at the costume design of the original two films. In this post we’ll look at the first Terminator film.

The Terminator has two costume palettes living inside of it–the LA pastel costuming of the regular world, and the Terminator’s world of grays, tans and blacks.

The LA palette: lots of pinks and blues

Even our police officer characters are in the pink and blue palette–in this case those two colors are taken to the ends of their spectrum– powder blue, purple, and red.

Another thing I couldn’t help but notice upon this viewing: the LAPD in this movie sure kept a LOT of shotguns in their unlocked squad cars. Good grief!

But…back to the costumes…

Sarah’s purple jacket is a great choice for her costuming because it fits into both the LA palette and also plays nicely with the Terminator palette.

In both Terminator and Terminator 2 (more on this later)–Arnold’s Terminator steals clothes from a group of counter culture individuals. In this movie, it’s a group of punk guys. In general, the Terminators steal clothing that visually matches their dystopian future.

Look everybody– It’s Bill Paxton! No, for real. That’s Bill Paxton.

I suppose if Terminators had any programming about clothing and blending in, they might select something just a wee bit less conspicuous.

Kyle Reese arrives naked and steals all of his clothes, including a trench coat from a department store. Although he’s in the Terminator palette, he’s not too far off from Sarah’s palette.

I like the play of the lines on this shirt with the shadow the office blind is casting on the wall. What a great use of texture!

An odd thing…they took Arnold’s eyebrow’s out part way through the movie. They are burned off in fire in a scene–which gives him a more alien, inhuman look.

That and the shiny skin means he’s not passing as human as well as he was at the start of the film. We the audience may not even fully register what is different, just that something is “off”.

For Sarah Conner’s final costume, she has changed to gray and ivory to be closer to the Terminator palette. We’ve lost all of the pink except for the bit on her headband–it seems she made a headband out of her old shirt.

That’s all for now. Look for a future post where we’ll look at Terminator 2!