Thursday, 23 October 2014

Ridley Scott's Alien (1979)

 Figure 1. Alien Poster

Alien is a feast for the eyes yet it’s less known for its story. As Malcom states “The basics of the plot are simple. Seven astronauts, working on a battered space tug that is apparently commercially owned, touch down on another planet, find something odd for the boffins back home, bring it back into the ship and are faced with an ever-growing monster.” (Malcom, 2009). But Alien’s basic plot set a great foundation for appreciating the other fantastic things about the film.

Figure 2. Spaceship Set

The most impressive thing about Alien is its highly detailed set.  Jones mentions in his review the film has “imaginative bio-mechanical production design (with the alien created by Swiss artist HR Giger)” (Jones, unknown).  The spaceship itself is built of many layers decorated with pipes and switches and gives you an impression of a gritty, working spaceship. There’s also the sets that belong to the alien planet. These sets give the impression of being vast and unexplored. Both sets are amazing in terms of design with every little detail thought out, it’s clear that a sense of realism was trying to be achieved.

Figure 3. Extreme Close up 

The way the camera is used in Alien is interesting. The shots help create a tense atmosphere and put you on the edge of your seat. At the start of the film the camera is steady while the crew do mundane things such as eat breakfast together but later on the camera is in first person or there will be an extreme close up of a characters face. An extreme close up (like in fig.3) shows the emotions close up and immediately involves the audience. Ridley Scotts choice to get the audience feel involved is what can make this film so terrifying.

In Alien it’s not made clear until towards the end who our protagonist will be, everyone is shown as an equal until they’re killed off. It’s interesting how Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) becomes the protagonist towards the end as often in sci-fi movies a woman is portrayed as a side character. Larson mentions Sigourney Weaver in his review saying “There is Sigourney Weaver, not throwing her womanhood around but rather carrying herself as if a strong female figure in this time and place was simply a matter of fact.” (Larson, unknown). Her portrayal of Ripley is rather impressive, she’s clearly a smart woman and though she shows signs of fear she’s still a strong character which makes her highly interesting to an audience.

Though Alien isn’t a perfect movie, it’s a movie that will engage many for different reasons.

Illustration List

Ridley Scott (1979) Figure 1. Alien Poster http://c4941054.r54.cf2.rackcdn.com/10418.jpg (accessed 23/10/14)
Ridley Scott (1979) Figure 2. Spaceship Set http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-v4ZTevrzRmo/TpQJ8_YagcI/AAAAAAAAKQg/ToZSi2YwNgw/s1600/Alien_002Pyxurz.jpg (accessed 23/10/14)
Ridley Scott (1979) Figure 3. Extreme Close up http://www.deepfocusreview.com/reviews/images/alien.3.jpg (accessed 23/10/14)

Bibliography
Jones, A (unknown) http://www.radiotimes.com/film/zwts/alien (accessed 23/10/14)
Larson, J (unknown) http://www.larsenonfilm.com/alien (accessed 23/10/14)

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