Film Corner: Alien


I think I'm gonna do an Alien marathon, not unlike my LOTR one. I gotta do something while I'm stuck in bed, or I get cranky.

So the first thing you need to know about me is that I didn't see any of the Alien movies until adulthood, because my childhood Christian cult thought movies were gateway drugs to Satanism. So all the cool old-school tech seemed like a really neat retro look when I finally saw these movies. Just saying. The slow-pan "nothing happens for ten minutes while you look at pretty space pictures, AND YOU'LL SAY NOTHING AND LIKE IT" film techniques didn't maybe age quite as well as the retro tech.

Ooh, 1979 theatrical or 2003 director cut? I think we'll do 2003. Ridley Scott tells us he didn't change much for this version and I am only just noticing how similar his name is to Ripley.

We get a lot of slow pans around the ship, which is lovely and retro, then we see everyone sleeping in their underwear. Kane wakes up slowly while I think about how vulnerable the entire configuration makes me feel. I'm extremely comfortable with nudity as long as I'm awake; if I'm asleep, I want a bathrobe or something. I don't know why. I just do.

Everyone eats food after waking up and two of the workers (a Black man and a white man who seems neurodivergent) point out they get paid less than everyone. The captain receives a "for your eyes only" message from the ship, Mother. Meanwhile, everyone files onto the bridge. "Where's earth?" one woman asks. "It's not our system," Ripley notes.

Captain gathers everyone back in the mess hall and tells them they're only halfway home. They were woken to investigate a nearby beacon of unknown origin. If they refuse, they don't get paid. Capitalism. The beacon is coming from a planet that has decent gravity and whatnot. They decide to land, but the landing is rough and they take some damage.

Ripley goes down to the repair area to talk to the workers. They banter at her in a way she doesn't love and she tells them to "fuck off". Captain, Kane, and Lambert go exploring for the beacon. Kane tells Lambert to quit griping. "I like griping," she says, earning my eternal love and devotion.

The alien craft is *gorgeous* on the director's cut.

We see the dead alien with the collapsed hole in its chest. It's so much bigger than the humans beside it, which is alarming in its own way. Humanoid-ish, but giant. And dead.

Back at the ship, Ripley is troubled; the beacon has been partially deciphered and looks like a warning instead of an SOS. She wants to go after the away team but Ash says it's pointless; she won't reach them in time to change whatever happens.

"There's a layer of mist just covering the eggs which reacts when broken." OK, Kane does not get enough credit for being too genre-unsavvy to live. Dude. Like, yes, scientific curiosity but on the other hand you could just NOT touch the reactive mist-covered eggs.

Captain returns to the ship and tells Ripley to open the doors. "We're clean, let us in." Ripley points out that she can't let in Kane if he has an ALIEN LIFEFORM attached to his face--the entire ship could be infected. This movie should be called "people refuse to listen to Ripley."

Ash, the medical officer, overrides Ripley's command and lets everyone in against company regulation and policy. Kane is rushed to the medical bay. Lambert slaps Ripley and the Captain yells at her. The other crew members point out that she has a point and the order was illegal. Captain orders the alien cut off Kane, but it instantly bleeds acid that threatens to cut through the ship hull. It's interesting that it's the underpaid, marginalized workers who are on Ripley's side about the monster. They don't have any illusions about being loved by or taken care of by the Company.

Ripley confronts Ash about the fact that she was the ranking officer on-board the ship and he disregarded her orders. Ash is dismissively "my bad". The alien disappears from Kane's face and apparently dies. Ripley doesn't want to keep the corpse but Ash says it has to go back. The captain says to take off and did the remaining repairs.

Kane starts choking during a meal. It's interesting that Ash, medical officier, is the only one neither surprised nor reacting. Everyone else is trying to help him; Ash just sits and watches. Ash doesn't get involved until Parker grabs a knife; then Ash is there yelling "don't touch it!" Every time Ash talks, he just *drips* with contempt for Ripley.

I find it noteworthy that it's the marginalized crew members (the under-paid + Ripley) who are risking their lives hunting the monster. The neurodivergent crew mate is taken. Lambert alone considers that he might still be alive. Now everyone is trying to herd the creature to an airlock.

The captain is taken. Lambert has an emotional breakdown (understandable). Ash is uncooperative. Ripley says she'll get what she needs from Mother, information-wise, since she's the captain now. Ripley digs into the computer and finds an order for the science officer's eyes only. The order says that the crew is expendable in service to getting the alien back for the company. This is the start of the series' thematic arc concerning Company vs. innocent lives.

Weyland-Yutani is so steeped in capitalism at this point in the future that they have put a dollar value on their crew, compared it to the dollar value of the alien, and the alien wins. "There is an explanation you know," Ash says, appearing at her elbow. Ripley pushes him away, struggles with a bout of tears, and storms out to warn the others. Ash traps her.

Ash tries to kill Ripley and she's saved by Lambert and Parker. The optics of being saved from a sexual violence-esque scene by a woman and a Black man are noteworthy. The white men have been a neurodivergent victim, an ineffective buffoon of a captain whose desire to be obeyed above all else endangered his crew, and a violent villain. Something to remember when dudes are like "I like Alien so I'm not a misogynist". I firmly believe that the guys brigading, like, Ghostbusters and Fury Road would HATE Alien if it weren't for the nostalgia factor and the fact that they probably haven't seen it in 20 years (if at all).

@McNutcase. Don't forget the guy who was too curious for anyone's good, because he thought nothing would actually harm him!

Whoops, yes, and Kane. Too genre-unsavvy to survive.

Ripley and the others prep the ship to explode but she remembers that Jones, the cat, is still onboard. She goes searching for it. I am sympathetic to the contrast between Ripley and the corporation--SHE cares about innocent life, even as THEY do not--but also, RIPLEY.

Lambert gets herself and Parker killed and honestly the less said about that, the better. There were some icky...things said and implied about that scene which I don't feel a desire to dwell on, but it's one reason this film isn't my favorite of the series. (I have a lot of discomfort re: Lambert and the way she's portrayed, which is one reason why I can't get as excited as I'd like to when folks speculate on whether the character is trans. But ymmv!)

Ripley locates the alien's nest and finds her crew mates cocooned there. Captain begs her to kill him and she understands and complies. Another running theme of the series: death can be a release from worser things. There's FIRE and SWEAT and PANTING but Ripley and the cat get to the escape pod with seconds to spare.

Ripley strips down to her underwear but oh no there is an alien on the escape pod with her. She suits up and blasts it out of the airlock while singing lullabies to it, in a manner that will be revisited in many ways in Alien: Resurrection. (Yes, I have seen all your clever jokes about the Alien series being only 1-2 movies long. You may not wish to follow this thread!)

That was Alien. A lot of suspense which holds up well only if you specifically like that sort of thing, I think; I remember the first time I watched it being a little frustrated at the pretty scenes that just expected you to be patient while panning over scenery happened.


Post a Comment