Sound And Vision: James Cameron

Contributing Writer; The Netherlands
Sound And Vision: James Cameron

In the article series Sound and Vision we take a look at music videos from notable directors. This week we discuss Martini Ranch' Reach, directed by James Cameron.

Never doubt James Cameron. It is a rule in Hollywood. At the time everyone doubted if Titanic could make its bloated budget back, amidst rumors that the making of the film was hectic and wildly over budget. The same thing was going on with Avatar: nobody would really be interested in a hugely expensive cgi-fest, right? James Cameron is good at proving the naysayers wrong. There is the rumor that he pitched Aliens by just writing 'Alien' on a piece of paper, then added an S, and asked the studio executives what that spelled, after which he turned the S into a dollar sign by adding two lines. James Cameron is a moneymaker, in short, and a hell of a salesman. But the thing is: James Cameron also spends a lot of cash, as a filmmaker.

Avatar 2 was the sixth film to reach the 2 billion dollar mark at the box office, and was recently nominated for an Oscar for best film, among others. Let's not forget that the film HAD to be this successful to break even. And the rule to never doubt James Cameron? Well, let's travel back to a time just after Aliens, when he made The Abyss. The Abyss was, in fact, a flop. There is a reason he returned to The Terminator franchise just after. And amidst the slight financial failure of that movie were also the stories off of the set, where there was a lot of discord among the crew and cast, because of Cameron's less-than careful set safety choices. That is not entirely what I want to focus on, though: the purest example that James Cameron can do wrong is his music video for Martini Ranch' Reach, made around the same time.

The band in question might not ring a bell, but was the band of Cameron's favorite actor Bill Paxton. Paxton wrote a screenplay, together with Tom Huckabee, called Lonesome Cowgirls: Amazon Women of the West. That film was never made, but the screenplay was the basis for the music video, a naff western piece about a biker being hunted by a group of female bounty hunters. The music video is garish and over the top, but also is very typically Cameron. Lance Henriksen shows up, for instance, as does Kathryn Bigelow, Cameron's then-partner, as the leader of the posse. And the inserts of video-footage of the requested bounty feels like they belong in The Terminator. The music video doesn't look cheap, but the thrills in it are. This is James Cameron at his most lurid and over the top. There are things here to appreciate, but this isn't James Cameron's finest hour. Strike this up as a reason to doubt James Cameron.

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