Saturday, 19 November 2011

Space: Alien (1979) Review

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‘Alien’ (1979) Is regarded as a piece of filmic art as it is not just the alien its self which became an icon, but the film and its style was also heavily influential on many Sci-Fi films that followed. Ridley Scott is renowned for his films being based upon setting and design in order to create a film which has depth and in Alien, this is shown at its highest level.

The design for ‘Alien’ is very unique and the quality and detail of the settings and environments helps to create this unique world which soon become known around the world and regarded as a perfect example of a Sci-Fi film. “Although the film sparkles with quality on all levels, without a doubt the two main elements that make Alien unique within the genre are the palpable sense of terrifying realism combined with the truly unique environment that Scott committed to film, largely thanks to the contributions of designers Ron Cobb and surreal Swiss sculpture and painter H. R. Giger.”  (Mackinder 2003) H. R. Giger’s work is very unique as he focuses on the ideologies of birth, life and sexuality which can be seen in all of his work. The design for the alien is very specific, there is a chance that the alien symbolises male sexuality and maybe also the fear of rape, as the overall design is very phallic. The film manages to combine realism in a fantasy setting in a subtle way; one aspect of this is the use of current technology on the ship instead of some completely futuristic design, maybe some influence for ‘Star Wars’  as a similar technique is used in this too.

Alien’ is a very claustrophobic film with many close up shots of the characters and the design of the slim corridors on the spaceship , this adds to the tension created in the film and creates a perfect setting for the monster. “The genius of Alien genius lies how little we actually see of the monster. Confined to shadows and held just outside the camera as it stalks the crew, what the audience imagines in far more frightening than anything Scott could ever show.” (Courtney) Very little is seen of the alien throughout the film and the only time we see a full shot of it is at the very end of the film. This technique is heavily used as the viewer’s imagination can create something far scarier than the actual monster, and so the reveal is left until the end in order to create a greater sense of fear. The alien lurks in the darkness and only appears when it is about to kill a character, creating both a sense of fear and curiosity as we as the audience want to see the creature in full as the scariest thing is that of the unknown.

The film creates a great overall product as every detail spurs us on and enthrals us as we beg to see more, the captivating twists in the story make this not only a terrific horror, but also builds the plot and pushes the narrative further. “It blew me away. I'd seen scary movies before, and I'd even seen some gore, but there was nothing to prepare my youthful brain for what Alien was about to dole out. From the second the film began, yes even through the "boring" opening sequences, I was enraptured, enthralled, disgusted, fascinated, challenged, and entertained to a dizzying degree. I can still remember the way I felt when Ash gets his damn robot head knocked off: stunned, delighted, and actually excited by what it meant to the story.” (Weinberg 2010) It is fair to say that this film sets a benchmark for all other Sci-fi Horror films and is one which will be played homage of for many years to come. Even though the sequels may have been disappointing and the franchise maybe grown out of hand, it still remains a hugely iconic piece of film.


Courtney, Date Unknown (Accessed on 16/11/11)

Mackinder, A (2003) (Accessed on 16/11/11)

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