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Alien Analysis (1979) (SPOILER ALERT!!)



Category: Sci-Fi
Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Yaphet Kotto
Duration: 112 min
Rated: R

You might like this movie if you enjoyed:
The Thing (1982), Predator (1987), Prometheus (2012)

The story in one sentence: Alien tells the story of seven crew members of the space ship Nostromo and their discovery of a creature that should have never been found.

Plot synopsis (Spoilers included!): When crew members of the space ship Nostromo wake up from a signal, which appears to be an SOS, they land and three of the crew members discover the area the signal came from. They find a stranded space ship and enter it. Inside they split up and find the remains of an enormous alien and a chamber filled with eggs. While observing the chamber and noticing movement in one of the egg, Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt) gets attacked by the creature that was inside of it. In the meanwhile it turns out that the signal wasn’t an SOS but a warning. When Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) tries to call the crew back she is stopped by Science Officer Ash (Ian Holmes). Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) and Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt) drag Kane back to their ship and ask for permission to enter. Ripley refuses to let them in, since the creature is attached to Kane’s face and she doesn’t want to risk getting infected. But again Ash ignores her concerns and lets them back in.
When trying to remove the alien from Kane’s face with a scalpel it releases a fluid that appears to be acid eating through the floor, so they stop and try to find another way to free Kane. The same night the creature magically falls off and Kane seems to be healthy and unharmed. But when they have breakfast, he starts coughing, choking and hyperventilating. The crew holds him down on the table and witnesses a new alien creature bursting through his stomach. When Chief Engineer Parker (Yaphet Kotto) attempts to kill the alien with a knife, he is held back by Ash. The creature escapes, and kills one crew member after the other. Ripley tries to get advice from their board computer on how to kill it, but instead she finds out that the company they work for knew of the danger they have been in and wanted them to bring back the alien creature anyway, since the team is expendable. Ash attacks and tries to kill her but Parker and Lambert come to her rescue and overwhelm Ash, who turns out to be a machine, a so called android. The fight against the alien continues and in the end only Ripley and the crew’s cat survive.

Detailed Review (SPOLIER ALERT!): Alien starts off with an intro of about four minutes, which is probably the longest one I have ever seen. The audience is transported outer space, the title which looks like hieroglyphs at first slowly reveals itself, followed by sequences of the inside of the Nostromo. The music they use during the intro is very suspenseful and makes you wonder what will happen next. In fact the music sets the tone throughout the whole movie and keeps you interested. But I noticed that in shock moments, for example when they enter Kane’s room and the creature that was attached to his face, falls from the ceiling, they didn’t use any music effects at all. I am not sure if it would have been cheesy with music or more effective, I guess it is debatable.
The acting was no Oscar performance but I could relate to the characters, especially to Sigourney Weaver who embodied true emancipation. Ian Holmes’s performance as Ash was very well done as well; the whole movie I was trying to figure out what was wrong with him until the surprising reveal of him being a machine. The way they made his inside look was very creative. I read that they used pasta, thin rubber tubes, glass marbles, cheap caviar and milk. (Davis)
Two things that made me wonder:
1. Can you eat all this solid food in space?
2. Why is Ripley bleeding out of her nose after finding out about the company’s intention?
Doing research for my first question I learned that “Foods such as fruits, bread and nuts can be eaten just as they are”, drinks, however, are usually being sucked out of a sealed package with a straw to avoid damaging of the machine in case of spilling. Other food items are usually in plastic containers and need to be prepared with water. (Space Station Kids) So it is not possible to eat like they did in space.
For my second question I couldn’t find answers. Maybe they cut out a fighting scene between her and Ash, or she just started bleeding because of the stress. I would almost assume the first explanation, because a few scenes after the fight with Ash, where she clearly get pushed around and beat up and receives some wounds, she is sweating and looks exhausted but her face doesn’t show any signs of being in a fight.
What I didn’t like about the movie was the scene where Ash is trying to stuff the rolled up newspaper in Ripley’s mouth. It was over the top and seemed pointless to me. Scott’s explanation didn’t do it to me either; he “described Ash’s method of trying to kill Ripley as suppressed/inexpressible desire. The director liked the idea that Ash always sort of wanted to, but didn’t have the part to have sex, so he does it with a magazine.” (Davis)
Another thing I didn’t like was that they show Ripley’s butt crack when she strips down to her underwear; as Whitney Houston once said, “Crack is whack!” that also goes for butt cracks. Not a turn on.
And why was the cat on board? Is it a symbol for something? I didn’t get it.
And why these hidden sexual messages?
I assume I have seen the remastered version since the picture was very clear, so I am not sure if they added extra scenes in the newer version but I can definitely say that it can easily compete with new Alien themed movies. Even though the story was lacking and missed out on providing the audience with enough information, I think the acting was decent and the ending made you gasp a little and hope for a sequel that explains what the first part is actually about. Alien, a movie I would recommend to anyone who wants to see an “interesting” science fiction movie that doesn’t rely on gore and shock moments.

Alien (1979) – Film Analysis. n.d.
Alien (1979) Trailer. 12 December 2009.
Davis, Cindy. Seriously Random Lists. n.d.
Space Station Kids. n.d.

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