Story of the Scene: 'The Terminator' (1984)
Famous movie lines are often a hair's breadth away from staggering banality. In The Terminator, the James Cameron sci-fi movie that made a star out of him and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the line "I'll be back" is a case in point.
Cameron has said that his inspiration for The Terminator lay in a single image that arrived in his mind one day, a vision of a metal skeleton walking from a blazing inferno. This scene comes late in the movie, and from this point the rest of the movie is backwards-engineered.
Earlier, Schwarzenegger, who plays a cyborg sent back in time to assassinate Linda Hamilton, has tracked her to a police station where she is being questioned. He approaches the desk sergeant, who barely looks up as the Terminator addresses him. In one great shot, the Terminator looks up, scanning the station ceiling and the structure of the booth in which the sergeant sits, leans forward with particular menace, and intones, "I'll be back." And back he comes.
Lance Henriksen was Cameron's original choice as the cyborg killing machine but Cameron wanted someone ordinary- looking; Big Arnie made the role his own. "I'll be back" became his trademark.
What was it in the original script? "I'll come back." Not so different, perhaps, but slightly more polite. "I'll be back" has a menace that would have been quite absent if the scripted version was used.
Cameron later revealed that police officers constantly tell him that the "I'll be back" scene is their favourite of all his movies – something that puzzles him, considering that virtually the entire station is mown down by the Terminator.
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
Liam Gallagher slams Daft Punk: 'I could have written Get Lucky in an hour'
Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
After 61 films, including The Hangover Part III, Heather Graham admits she still likes to boogie
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 EDL marches on Newcastle as attacks on Muslims increase tenfold in the wake of Woolwich machete attack which killed Drummer Lee Rigby
- 5 Farewell, Shameless. Your heirs have work to do
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.