Sunday, April 22, 2012

Alien - The monster inside us

My Superman marathon is stalled while I wait for a copy of the Donner cut of Superman 2. It occurred to me that it might make more sense to embark on an Alien view-through as we wait for Prometheus, which will be with us soon. So here is the very first Alien film from 1979.

"In space no-one can hear you scream" but they can hear you blow up a huge oil refinery platform as my physics teacher pointed out at the time. My brothers and I were discussing the late 1970s on Facebook recently and, in particular, the movies and music concerts we went to see then. I remember going on a school organised outing to see Star Wars in 1977. I don't know how the teachers got that one by the Headteacher and parents but they did. Likewise in 1979 the physics and biology of Alien were the subject of much discussion with our A level tutors.

We also look back fondly on a time before internet spoilers and trailers freely available at the click of a button. Yet I remember that we all knew that something was going to come out of John Hurt's chest. Maybe it was word of mouth but it was common knowledge by the time I saw the film. Not that that detracted from the shock of the moment, it still caused quite a jump for myself and the young lady friend who was with me. Our box of Maltesers clattered their way down the rows of seats in front of us as they flew from our startled laps!

There are several more memorable moments in this film, not the least of which is Ripley's final confrontation with the Alien on the shuttle. Watching it again now just confirms how good Sigourney Weaver was right from the start. Her character seems to be the only one thinking clearly out of the whole crew. It now seems obvious that there was something weird about Ash right from the start.

The effects hold up very well, although the clunky computers with their bizarre methods of data input now seem very strange. Point and click was only a pipe-dream then I suppose. There is one rather strange shot of the larger Alien moving forwards which is clearly a model on a rail but apart from that everything looks great. I watched the more recent Director's cut which gives us the sequence of Ripley discovering Dallas and Brett in Alien cocoons. This was in the novelisation of the film which I read at the time, but in light of what the sequels told us about the Alien life cycle the scene doesn't make sense and it seems odd to have included it.

The film is still very shocking and watchable. I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. Next up is Aliens with and those guns, lots of guns.

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