He’s baaaack! Mr. Rumsey was kind enough to return and provide yet another epic review, this time of the classic sci-fi film, Alien. If you haven’t checked out Mr. Rumsey’s film related Musings, and all the cool posts that he writes, head on over after reading this. You won’t be disappointed, also, this review is awesome! Don’t you agree? 😀
When asked what my all-time favourite film is, I normally respond with Alien. The haunting corridors of the Nostromo have buried themselves deep into my imagination in a way which very few film sets could manage to. Their dark corners are made even more intimidating than they naturally would be by the film’s fantastic score. With its use of silence and little tremoring notes it captures the imagination at least as much as the story, characters, and visuals. For a short while I watched this film every night, sometimes more than once, in an attempt to figure out how the film works so very well at what it sets out to achieve, which is simply put – to terrify us.
The plot of Alien is pretty simplistic; the crew of a towing ship (the Nostromo) are prematurely awaked from stasis and instead of finding themselves on Earth, they discover that the ship’s computer (MU-TH-UR or ‘Mother’) has picked up a distress signal from the passing planet LV-426. Obliged by their contract to go and investigate, the crew set down on the surface, and by doing so kick start their encounter with the terrifying alien race known to us as Xenomorphs. That’s it, from there onwards it’s at its core a typical haunted house movie, albeit one set in space. However it is the attention to detail which really helps make this film special. Great pains were taken in order to achieve a gritty, dirty level of realism, where both the world in which the characters inhabit, and the disturbing lifecycle of the Xenomorphs, feels grounded in science. From the biology that resembles the braconid wasps’ reproduction process, to the detail put into researching the ship door’s movements, every element is thought out and reproduced as accurately as possible, and it only goes to help immerse you further into the world created here. You really get a sense that a lot of care has been taken over the production of Alien.
This film makes extensive use of sexual imagery to play on fears which are deeply rooted in our collective subconscious. These are largely present due to Giger’s designs, but they are also played out in the themes of the film; for the male viewer issues such as rape and a resulting male pregnancy are explored in a truly terrifying way, and the sexual threat for female’s is left very ambiguous. There are clues but they are left unexplored, a decision which makes it all the more terrifying because, and this is true of the rest of the film’s approach as well, things are left largely to our imagination.
The stand out performance in this film is easily Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. She is so very good at displaying fear in this movie; there are moments where Ripley is dripping in sweat, trying to hold herself together, and Weaver utterly sells the fear that her character is experiencing, and consequently makes the whole experience that much more involving and terrifying. Other than Weaver through the rest of the cast also all do a fantastic job in their respective roles, nobody lets the film down, and they are all a lot of fun to watch.
Overall this is one truly fantastic film; every detail from the cast, to the direction, the visuals, and the score are all excellent, and come together perfectly in order to scare and impress us in equal measure. Perhaps this review is a little biased, but I genuinely have nothing to criticise about this film. It’s quite simply the closest I think I’ll ever get towards describing a movie as perfect.
An interesting fact to end on: Apparently the choices for a female Ripley ended up being between Sigourney Weaver and Meryl Streep!