Skipping through the channels last night, Alien was on. I haven’t seen it for a while, so I kept it on. I did join it about halfway through, where Kane still had the face-hugger on him. However, I was happy to watch the second half.
There’s no point in me going through the story, if you haven’t seen Alien yet, what the hell are you doing on the LMO? Go and watch it now! In a nutshell, Alien is a masterpiece. It’s one of those movies that is faultless. The cast is incredible, the story is simple but very effective and the direction is spot-on. This was back in the day when you could believe in Ridley Squat, not the man we know today.
The Nostromo Is A Real Ship
Back in the day, movies didn’t have computers making everything for them. The second half of Alien is set on the Nostromo. Watching the movie again, the Nostromo is real, it’s a real spaceship, with a real cockpit, a real computer room, and everything.
The set design for Alien is stunning, there’s no other word for it. It is a living, breathing spaceship where the crew live and work. In most of today’s movies, there is more green screen than plot and the problem with green screen is you can see it’s not real. Most of the big-budget movies spend millions trying to convince you and, at times, they do. However, you know Iron Man isn’t real, you know Superman cannot fly, and you know that Hobbits aren’t really that small. You’re brain knows it’s not real, but you are happy to go along with it.
Movies like Alien are different. All of the actors are on a real set, with real buttons, real doors, and real porno mags. Watching it again, I was watching the actors, but I was also just kind of looking around the ship. It is stunning. Some of it was overly designed, but at the same time, the entire thing looked lived in. There was crap lying around, and some of the walls were dirty and never cleaned, like I said, it’s a real spaceship.
The Xenomorph Is Terrifying
If you have seen some of H. R. Giger’s artwork, you know that the guy had a pretty messed up mind. Having him design the Alien and the ship in the opening was genius. His vision of creating a monster, that wasn’t just a man in a suit, was, again, genius.
I never really noticed before how good the editing is since you never see the alien in its full glory. You are given hints of what it looks like. The only thing you ever see is the huge domed head and the mouth within a mouth. There are pipes on the back of it, and there are complex skin markings, but most of it is from your own twisted imagination.
Yes, the xenomorph was a man in a suit, but again, with clever editing and beautiful photography, it never looks like a man in a suit. It’s a real alien, everyone is in danger and that thing is going to drip acid on you and then rip your skin off. You felt the fear the crew felt.
As I have said, back in the day, Scott was a master of his art. I haven’t seen this for a while and watching it again, the editing, photography, performance of the actors, the music, it all works so well. The bit where Harry Dean Stanton is looking for the cat and he stops and lets water drip on his face. It’s all close up, right in Stanton’s face and you are there with him. The scene is long and you are waiting for the alien to show up, but it doesn’t.
The tension is perfect. There are no quick edits apart from where they need them. The long shots, the tension, the suspense, it all works so well. I had forgotten the music, by Jerry Goldsmith. There’s a big score to the movie, but It’s then so subtle when it needs to be, it gets your heart racing and makes you squirm.
Strong female character
Ripley is a normal person, if you met her in real life, she’d be cool, have a drink with you, and just chill. She is the main protagonist in the movie and (spoilers) the only one to survive. Being strong doesn’t mean you can punch out a man twice your size. Strength can be subtle, a determined state of mine. Ripley suffers in the movie, she sees her friends get brutally murdered, but she is determined to make sure the xenomorph doesn’t win. Making a decision like blowing up the entire ship, to stop that thing from coming back to Earth. The consequences of her actions would be catastrophic, but she’s willing to suffer that, to save humankind.
This got me thinking about a lot of other strong female characters from most horror movies. Off the top of my head, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, all have women who are the targets of an attack, but they dig their heels in, stand their ground and they beat the bad guy. Did Laurie get into a fistfight with Michael Myers? No, of course not, she was a young teenage girl, who was scared for her life, but she didn’t give up. A strong female character, written well, and a great example for women everywhere. And to think, nowadays people are moaning about how women are portrayed badly in movies, maybe they need to watch Alien?
They Don’t Make Them Like This Anymore!
While watching Alien again, all I could think of was this:
They don’t make them like this anymore!
We are saturated by movies these days. Instead of one big movie coming out, once in a blue moon, with streaming services competing, you may have one, two, or three big movies hitting the cinema, simultaneously with several other movies headed to streaming. That’s not to mention the TV shows that need binging.
Movies are mass-produced, pumped out like TV shows these days. Write, produce, make, release, wash, rinse, repeat, over and over. Now I’m not saying there aren’t good movies around today and I’m not saying people don’t put their all into making them, but the audience today is very, very different.
Alien was stunning when it came out, people hadn’t seen anything like it. Most ‘sci-fi horror’ from the past were all B-movies, with hammy acting and worse special effects. OK, so things like 2001 showed how special effects could be done and then Star Wars changed things, but having a sci-fi horror, like Alien was huge.
I wish I could have been an audience member when it first came out! Man, it would have been amazing, watching something new, something so real. Imagine having seen something like this, as brand new.
Today’s audience is used to Snapchat shorts and TikTok, they need quick cuts and mind-numbing garbage. Can you imagine getting a Tik-toker, who dances to songs they have not written, and consider themselves influencers, watching Alien for the first time? What would they say?
How stupid it looks, how dark it is, how boring it is.
OK, so I’m going down the route ‘miserable old sod’, but watching Alienagain reminded me what classic it is, what an incredibly well-made movie it is, and how it stands head and shoulders above the majority of modern movies. I honestly cannot think of anything, made in the past 5 years, that could hold a candle to Alien. If you can, let me know. Our minds have been desensitized to great movies these days. Standards have dropped, we expect the worst and we usually get it. It’s such a shame, but at the same time, it makes a movie like Alien better with every watch. Knowing that this movie is out there and can be enjoyed at any time, in full 4k glory, makes me happy.
Alien is perfection!
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