Fig 1: Movie Poster Director: Ridley Scott Story & Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon 1979
Alien was released to an audience that was used to the sci-fi genre, where aliens killing humans was no longer a new thing. However, Alien still managed to tenfold it’s budget in profits, and is an iconic movie. Whenever someone thinks of humans vs. aliens, Alien is the first to be mentioned, even after 33 years. ‘In a very short time, science-fiction films have developed their own jargon that's now become a part of the grammar of film.’ (V.Canby:2003) It was still very much the most typical sci-fi film, yet stood out. Only 4 years after the Vietnam war had ended, the population were still horrified by what could be done by humans, the horror was still fresh in their minds. Also, since 1969, NASA had made 2 successful men on the moon landings. Also, NASA’s research in space generally throughout the 70s, and the first ever human face lift was attempted, the first genetically engineered organisms were made, which fascinated and again, scared people. The idea of augmented life scared the people, but fascinated. The movie features a brutey stern female taking the lead role, with her crew on a space cargo ship, when they receive an intercepted message, which they are bounded by law to explore to check for life, which indeed they found. One of the crew members was attacked when exploring, and dragged back to the ship for treatment, where he is infected, and brings the alien life to the ship. They are stuck with an alien which seems to conveniently feast on humans, which he catches when they are singled out.
Fig 2: The crew The story far from original, so why is it remembered and praised so much? The previous big-hit sci-fi films, like Star Wars, all exhibit an idealistic future, where everything is smooth, stream lined, shiny. Alien was far from it, the colour scheme was very much unsaturated, with a very blue/green hue. It seemed dull, dusty, factory like colours. There were no lasers, no shining bright colourful beams, and gleaming robots. Everything was very square, very office space like. It looked like NASA research rooms of the time, it was very realistic and people could relate. The future had seemed like a working environment to the public, which was very different to sci fi cinema at the time. It was all very utilized, the least flamboyant image created of space crafts yet. ‘ It was Giger
who cracked Alien, not just with the creature itself (rarely seen in full anyway), but with the organic innards of the derelict ship and its ghostly egg chamber. It's no surprise to learn that Giger works surrounded by animal skeletons.’ (TotalFilm:2003)
Fig 3: A new world H.R. Giger’s concepts for the scenes were very unappealing; they were dull, yet so wonderful, because they seemed so far yet so close to home. We can relate to the sort of working atmosphere yet still in wonder of the mass of technology and futuristic designs. ‘It was Giger who cracked Alien, not just with the creature itself (rarely seen in full anyway), but with the organic innards of the derelict ship and its ghostly egg chamber. It's no surprise to learn that Giger works surrounded by animal skeletons.’ (K.Newman:2008) Another aspect to Alien’s design which makes it so fascinating is the organic organisms created. Everything seemed to be living, throbbing, swelling, and weeping like flesh. It was all so unknown to the audience, yet again, somehow, we find ourselves relating to it. It could be our subconscious slowly secreting all of our fears and disgust, confused feelings of our genitalia and sexuality, or it could be a reliving horror of life being took for granted, turned to evil, augmented, melted, by recent events, like the Vietnam war, people would have seen the natives burned alive in the media, which pictures of crying children victims, or the beginning of humans augmenting other humans. One more factor that makes the set of Alien so real to the audience is that, it essentially was real. The scene exited. Their hands landed on real objects, there was weight to their footsteps, it meant that the sound affects where real, their sound of them running was what we saw. It was made so well, it had the horrible feeling of claustrophobia, because that’s how it was made, not just edited to look. The echo of their voices were real, the conversations felt natural and not queued, and the overall atmosphere was just very much real. So, even though generic, Alien was initiative and creative in design, which made it stand out of the heaps of sci fi movies at the time. It was beautifully made with amazing lighting, sound, scenes, and enhanced the haunted house story we are used to seeing to something somehow close to home, yet leaves you in awe and wonder of the mysterious future.
Illustrations: Fig 1: Film Poster (Film Poster) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alien_movie_poster.jpg (accessed 13/10/12) Fig2: The Crew (Movie Still) http://www.thefancarpet.com/ActorGalleryPicture.aspx?mga_id=25233&a_id=274 (accessed 13/10/12) Fig3: A new World (movie still) http://www.knowthemovies.com/alien.html (accessed 13/10/12)
Bibliography: Kim Newman (2008) Alien in: http://www.empireonline.com [online] at: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/ReviewComplete.asp?FID=9531 (accessed 13/10/12)
Vincent Canby (2003) Alien in: http://movies.nytimes.com [online] at: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=950CEED61439E732A25756C2A9639C946890D6CF& partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes (accessed 13/10/12) Unknown Author (2003) Alien in: http://www.totalfilm.com [online] at: http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/cinema/alien-the-directors-cut (accessed 13/10/12)