Face-Hugging Dreams of Breathing: Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien

Face-Hugging Dreams of Breathing: Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien

Visionary and terrifying, Ridley Scott’s Alien hybridized the horror and science-fiction genres in 1979 to effectively launch a new subgenre, and countless clones have since borrowed from its DNA. Space-aged operatics and laser battles have no place in this imaginatively designed film, whose mounting tension still contains fearsome intensity and whose visual ambitions still evoke awe. Scott’s artistry still amazes us even some 41 years later as this year as you see this movie showcases a new style of scfi flim that would be copied by so many movies.

H.R. Giger’s alien design’s in alien really showcase many of alien movie’s amazing style and look for its dark and creepy world. Of course, Alien was not the first film about a killer creature from space, nor was it the first haunted house-type story in which characters are hunted down and systematically slaughtered, nor would it be the last. Screenwriter Dan O’Bannon later admitted, “I didn’t steal Alien from anybody. I stole it from everybody!” From the radio beacon of unknown origin in Forbidden Planet (1956) to the escalating alien scares in It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) to the claustrophobic setting of The Thing from Another World (1951), the film is not without its influences all would make this classic gem into something that takes form past of movies yet setups dna for future movies. 

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Floating in the silence of space, inside the Nostromo lights flicker on and computers scroll incoming transmissions. The crew of seven is awakened from their hyper-sleep as many of the shots of this movie is shot so wonderfully by scott’s wonderful handy cam work that captures dark and creepy world of alien. Scott’s technique lends Alien distinction amid its respective genres at the time; rather than have the alien leap at the viewer from the start, he builds suspense through a meticulously controlled intensification of anxiety. Take the sound design and the careful juxtaposition of agonizing, dominating silence and jarring bursts of audible terror. The Nostromo’s crew moves about the quiet ship in virtual silence, their dialogue limited at first. 

Scott’s technique lends Alien distinction amid its respective genres at the time; rather than have the alien leap at the viewer from the start, he builds suspense through a meticulously controlled intensification of anxiety.Scott’s moody treatment of the plot is counterbalanced by his talented ensemble, who gives the film an unmistakable human dimension in the coldness of space. Wage slaves all, the Nostromo’s crewmembers behave like interstellar working stiffs, led by their mellow captain, Dallas (Tom Skerritt). Second in command is the good-humored Kane (John Hurt), host to the alien organism. Next in line is warrant officer Ripley, who tries to quarantine Kane, but her adherence to protocol is defied by the icy science officer, Ash (Ian Holm), who allows Kane onboard. On the sidelines and informing the audience’s reactions are edgy navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), and maintenance men Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), who quibble tirelessly about getting paid less than their fellow crew members. Most impressive is that the youngest actor among them is Cartwright at 29. If Alien were made today by another filmmaker, it may have been populated by the time’s youngest and hottest stars. Scott’s intention, however, was to find a cast that could bring natural performances to an unnatural setting.

Beyond the excruciating tension, what remains so haunting about the film is how little it tells us about the alien, its origins, life cycle, and even its physical makeup. Its metamorphosis from parasite Facehugger to embryo Chestbuster to predatory Alien attacks its victims on multiple levels. In one way, it acts like a disease, invading the body and destroying from within. In another very suggestive way, it penetrates the body both in its parasitic and predatory forms. As Ash observes, “A perfect organism of steer horror that really will scare you as the alien is a creepy monster of terror as its lack of humanity it envokes anytime on the screen. The way the Facehugger implants its embryo recalls ichneumon wasps who lay their eggs on or inside their prey, while the alien’s tongue-like Pharyngeal jaws emerge from its mouth and call to mind a Moray eel that invokes many of the artwork of iger’s original illustrations to the screen in such a surreal and creepy manner.

the producers’ original decision to cast Cartwright as Ripley. This last-minute choice became a fateful one for Weaver, whose career has been long-associated with the Alien franchise, having appeared in four entries through 1997. More significantly, though, Weaver’s initial presence as an iron-willed heroine afforded audiences a tough and noble hero, whose femininity was downplayed but not altogether absent. For decades, Weaver would be the only actress in Hollywood who could headline an action film, while her dramatic and genre work remained steady: she played an ironic damsel in the Ghostbusters series, earned two Oscar nominations in 1988 playing Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist and a relentless business executive in Working Girl, explored arthouse drama with Roman Polanski’s Death and the Maiden (1997) and Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm (1997), and remains forever linked to the science-fiction and horror genres since this breakthrough performance. One of the great pleasures of watching Alien is witnessing Weaver grow into a star right before our eyes as she gives out such a marvelous performance as such of her performance is a breakout in this movie.

Much has changed about the science-fiction and horror genres in the thirty years since Alien’s release as a flim like alien would be revealing so many details earlier as also cast younger stars to play the key roles in its wonderful cast. Alien is a profoundly influential work and a lasting classic. The risks taken by this film make it a rarity, while its methods yield a paradigmatic specimen whose combination of genre thrills, bound by great artistry and innovation, have yet to be bested by imitators that still lasts the test of time. 

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