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Alien 1979 Review

Alien 1979 Review

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Published by shanmason93

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Published by: shanmason93 on Oct 25, 2012
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12/06/2014

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Cinematic spaces in “
Alien
”:
Review (1979)
Figure 1.
 Alien
(1979)Alien manipulates the existing conventions of cinematic spaces to produce an edge of realism to thebiomorphic aliens and surreal landscapes it features. The sci-fi/ horror film is based on little more thanan average haunted house (Scooby doo like) plot whereby the cast split off into small groups to trackdown the alien who are instead killed one by one by the creature. Thus the film inexplicably draws itssuccess from its ability to depict futuristic cinematic spaces, realistically, special effects and surrealistartwork of the creatures, with less emphasis placed on the simple plot.Ridley Scott used the cinematic space of the star ship to create a claustrophobic environment to create astrong suspense between human and alien as the humans appear trapped, vulnerable and helpless inthe tight corridors
.
“They are the production design of Michael Seymour and the alien creature design
of H.R. Giger. Seymour's work fashions the perfect playground for the creature - a maze of dark,nightmarish passages that emphasize the sense of claustrophobia and mounting tension. Giger'screation is one of unparalleled terror, and represents one of the most memorable visions ever toappear in a science fic
tion movie.”
(Berardinelli , 2003)
Particular attention was paid towards the choices for lighting and camera work to create a strongoutcome, harsh lighting shot through doors and vents onto the faces of the cast to create a sci- fi mistyappearance to the set. The strong contrasts between black and white left characters semi submergedinto the darkness. Scott also focused on jaunty hand-held like camera work, with footfalls, swaying andPOV shots to represent the compressed physical space of the humans inside the space craft as well asextreme close ups of characters and alien objects to lure the viewer into a strange fascination with theother worldly objects.
“Scott, aided by his special effects team, headed by Brian Johnson and Nick
 
Allder, and many others who deserve to be mentioned but can
t be, creates in the confined space of his main set a sweaty little world on its own that responds ideally to his obsessive close-ups and
restless, magnifying style.”
(Malcolm 2009).
Using the right camera movements and shot is vital to thesuccess of any cinematic experience. The extreme close ups Scott chose limited our perception of thecinematic space forcing the
viewer’s
eyes to be drawn to singular objects rather than to wander acrossthe screen from a wide angle shot. Scott focuses on the terrors of the human characters, the fascinationwith alien features and objects inside close up shots allowing a sense of realism to settle about the alien.Alien is recognized as a famous symbol of the Freudian ideology. The set designed by H.R Giger,presented a wet and ribbed fleshy structure to the alien ship. Freudian ideology focused on, using phallicand vaginal imagery within biomorphic entities to allude to the sub conscious fears of human nature.
“The alien monster itself is Freudian nightmare, and a powerful symbol of evil technology. It was
designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger. His style is described as biomechanical. This is significant becausethe monster seems to represent the ultimate mixing of biology and technology
 –
and ever since
Frankenstein, writers have been leery of mixing Mother Nature with science.”
(Korczak 2005).
H. R.
Giger’s artwork plays a vital importance to the cinematic spaces of “Alien”. The film has been argued to
build fear through the forced sexual imagery and growth of creatures inside of the humans throughscenes such as; the birth from the alien eggs and on the shape of the space craft to represent vaginalimagery whilst phallic imagery is grown around the alien itself.
Alien
developed fear from our subconscious view of reproduction building a gruesome beauty around attitudes towards life and survival.(Notice the phallic shaped imagery on the Aliens head and tail in (fig.2)).Figure 2.
Alien
applied a grotesque yet oddly fascinating beauty the Aliens with convincing futuristic sets tohook the viewer. This was displayed through the technology, the use of camera work and also therepresentation of the cast.
Aliens
major success however comes from becoming one of the first majortitles to encapsulate clearly the theory of Freud, by combining H.R. Giger
s surrealist sets and ideas withthe cinematic spaces of a future environment.Malcolm. D (2009).
Derek Malcolm's Alien review from 1979.

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