This year the sci-fi masterpiece Alien turns 35 and to celebrate Genesis Cinema BAFTA nominated editor Terry Rawlings and associate producer Ivor Powell will also be at the screening for a Q&A session. I’m really looking forward to this, I’ve never seen Alien on the big screen.
For me, Alien is the best sci-fi horror film ever made. My dogs are called Ripley & Newt, that should give you some idea of much I love this film.
I’m sure most of you have seen it but it’s one of those films that you can watch endlessly throughout your life. Bored? Watch Alien. Not sure what to watch? Watch Alien. Oh look Alien is on TV, stop everything and come watch it – OK!
From the amazing biomechanical, psychosexual design work by H.R. Giger, the brilliant cast including John Hurt, Ian Holm, Veronica Cartwright & Sigourney Weaver and more special effects than you can shake a stick at, from all angles Alien is work of art.
The use of practical special effects is something I miss in film, these days it’s all CGI. I like physical, hands on effects and Alien does that in spades, for example in the scene where Kane (John Hurt) sees something within the alien eggs, something pulsating. That’s Ridley Scott’s hands (in rubber gloves) making a butterfly, crazy huh? But it looks great. It looks tangible, real.
Then we have Ripley, one of the original Final Girls. Some would argue Ripley isn’t a final girl due to her fate at the end of Alien 3, clearly cloned Ripley doesn’t count.
Well, I consider her a Final Girl and one of the best. It says something about script writing that when you can swap a characters gender and not have it affect the story. Ripley had started out as a male, in fact Dan O’Bannon’s script featured an all-male crew of six with one important disclaimer: “The crew is unisex,” it reads, “and all parts are interchangeable for men or women.”
So Ridley decided Ripley should be female and at the end of casting the role was either going to Sigourney Weaver or Meryl Streep. I love Meryl but I can’t imagine her in this. Although I would love to see her take on a role like this.
Ripley is smart, strong, resilient and frankly a badass. She is one of the few female characters that I can really get behind and enjoy watching. As the role was written for a man there is none of the usual sexism which occurs when women are in danger. Ripley can save herself. Sure, she wouldn’t mind some help but if she has to do it alone, she will.
I could go on and on about the symbolism in the film, male rape etc but smarter people than me have already discussed this. Dan O’Bannon put it like this.
“One thing that people are all disturbed about is sex… I said ‘That’s how I’m going to attack the audience; I’m going to attack them sexually. And I’m not going to go after the women in the audience, I’m going to attack the men. I am going to put in every image I can think of to make the men in the audience cross their legs. Homosexual oral rape, birth. The thing lays its eggs down your throat, the whole number.'”
So there you have it.
Alien is the beginning of a long relationship between a woman and an alien and the company desperate to get their hands on the alien. I can’t wait to hear what Terry Rawlings and Ivor Powell will have to say at the Q&A. Get your questions ready!
Sunday 24th of August
93-95 Mile End Rd