Sunday, 6 November 2011

Alien directed by Ridley Scott

Fig 1. Alien box art

Alien directed by Ridley Scott (1979) A crew from the mining ship Nostromo have been awakened from hyper sleep after the ships computer Mother (voiced by Helen Horton) has intercepted a transmission from an unknown life form. After they land Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) and Kane (John Hurt) set off and reach the alien ship. While mother translates the message it turns out to be a warning but by then it’s too late. Kane is taken back with a ‘facehugger’ attached to his head. Chaos soon pursues with each crew member being killed off one by one. Ripley is the last surviving character who triumphs by killing the Alien, and Ripley became an iconic sci-fi heroin.

Although this film shows a classic horror plot with each of the charters being picked off one by one in a rather gruesome fashion. This film should just be another horror flick that was forgotten about, but it remains as one of my favourite horror sci-fi films of all time. It is all down to the creature design and set designs, you really do believe that this exists. They film producers enlisted the help of H.R Giger a surrealist painter who paints very raw sexual dark paintings. This helped the very iconic Alien design to be the very basis of all modern creature designs. The Alien creature reflects the dark human desires, to consume and destroy and is why the Alien creature remains to be the best designed organism and is why it sticks with us. “Giger's creation is one of unparalleled terror, and represents one of the most memorable visions ever to appear in a science fiction movie” (Berardinelli N/A). The design of the planet lv-426 (designated planet name in Aliens (great film as well)) is very simply and basic but gives a great sense that is located in deep space. This only elevates another human fear of being far from safety in the dark, which gives the film even more depth and emotion. 
Fig 2. Alien

This film creates a lot of tension and suspense in scenes, when the characters walk around alone in the dark you know what’s going to happen. “One of the great strengths of "Alien" is its pacing. It takes its time. It waits. It allows silences” (Ebert 2003)The creature remains a mystery but you get the sense that it is very smart, agile and strong just by looking at it. The music in this film is fantastic, creating atmosphere within scenes especially when you see the Nostomo in the opening scene. It gives a sense of deep space and the unknown.

The CGI in this film is still very good by today’s standards. The ship Nostromo has a very powerful presence to it while it’s moving through space. You really get a sense that the ship is huge, however on the inside they have made it old future tech. This gives the ship a very used and recycled, scrapheap feel which works well as it is a mining vessel and just emphasises that fact. To modern viewer however certain aspects of this film may seem dated but for the most part it still looks great and doesn’t seem to have dated at all. “The production design in "Alien" was always among the movie's strongest points, and the bulky details (a motion detector the size of a leaf blower; spaceship monitors that look like Radio Shack TRS-80 computer screens) seem more industrial than quaint”. (Hartlaub 2003)

Fig 3. The Nostromo

Illustration List

Scott, R. (1979) Figure 1. Alien box art (Online) (Accessed on 06/11/11)

Scott, R. (1979) Figure 2. Alien (Online) (Accessed on 06/11/11)

Scott, R. (1979) Figure 3. The Nostromo (Online) (Accessed on 06/11/11)


James Bernardinelli. (N/A) (Online) (Accesed on 6/11/11)

Roger Ebert. (2003) (Online) (Accessed on 06/11/11)

Peter Hartlaub. (2003) (Online) (Accessed on 06/11/11)


  1. I think I'm getting the hang of writing reviews and referencing now.

  2. agreed - but a bit more polish still required - for example, you've got H.R Giger as 'H.I. Geiger' :(

  3. oh - and you need to put your quotes in italics please.

  4. Ok thank you Phil I'll change that right away.