In celebration of the recent Blu-Ray release, a review of the Ridley Scott classic just as soon as I investigate this distress beacon…
Seeing as the Blu-Ray set of these films are due to be released imminently (Some retailers are even shipping now…) and because I needed something to watch I’m going to run reviews of all four (Yes sadly all four) of the franchise (I refuse to call it the Quadroligy – Sorry Fox marketing). Starting of course with the first one.
“In space no one can hear you scream” read the tagline of Ridley Scott’s seminal classic. Then and now it promotes an idea of helplessness that comes with being in deep space. The idea of home equalling safety is so ingrained in us that the prospect of being away from home and having no hope of getting back is such a deep rooted, and age old, fear. In layman’s terms, what the tagline promises is that you…are…fucked.
Taken down to it’s basic elements Alien is basically a slasher film. A group of people are confined to a small space while something takes them out one by one. It even retains the sexual nature of the later slasher films. Not only is the Alien itself phallic looking, thanks to the design of HR Geiger, but the attack and subsequent impregnation of John Hurt by the Facehugger is rife with sexual overtones.
Ridley Scott’s film is remarkable in that it keeps his love of visual intact but with a story and cast that stop it from overwhelming. All the actors are great here, and one of the things I love most is how lived in it all seems. The ship isn’t the pristine, shiny looking one that we find in something like 2001 or even Star Wars. Instead it’s a bit of a mess, all awkward looking and misshapen. Even the crew themselves resemble truckers more than astronauts, eschewing regular uniforms in favour of loud shirts and cargo trousers. It presents the idea that even in the future there will still be roughnecks doing the hard jobs, just replace the oil rig at Sea for one in Space.
Alien isn’t for everyone. It’s slow and methodic, with Scott’s deliberate pacing just adding to the atmosphere. It could’ve easily just been a film about nothing and I still think the film would be fondly looked upon. Yes it ratchets up the tension in the second half, but Scott still keeps a masterful eye over the proceedings. It’s a shame to think that aside from Blade Runner he would probably never make anything as good as this again.
Up Next: James Cameron gives us a bug hunt in space with Aliens.