Certainly seems like the offspring off 1951’s the thing from another world and kubrick’s 2001
Weaver had one other role and her debut in a quick shot as woody’s date I believe in annie hall but what a tremendous casting find here
I absolutely love the first 45 minutes. It’s patience, building tension and gorgeous production design and mise-en-scene
Clearly, Ridley Scott is not Kubrick but visually he’s closer to Kubrick than George Lucas
There’s some similarities between the ship, also the Mother/HAL and Ian Holm’s icy “ash” character
Anyone calling this a straight B-movie as an insult to its grandeur ideas and themes is wrong- there’s quite a bit going on here.
This is the 2nd finest example (blade runner) of Scott’s superior (even amongst great auteurs) craftsmanship and skilled photography
The ending shutting down of the ship again mirrors 2001 – there’s so much going on with the lighting and mise-en-scene… it certainly reminds me of some german expressionism. There’s shadow work, fantastic lighting, sirens going off, flames, yellow/green coloring that is quite beautiful (there’s a reason Fincher would do the 3rdaliens film), strobe lighting as well
It’s the 4th best film of 1979 but that’s no insult- we’re talking about career-best work from Woody Allen (Manhattan), Tarkovsky (stalker) and Coppola (apocalypse now)
I love Alien. Do you consider Alien as a horror or sci-fi film? I think of it as a sci-fi movie with horror/thriller elements rather than the other way around. I don’t know of any good sci-fi movies to watch (TSPST and this website does not have a genre filter). Are there any classic (old or recent) full-blown science fiction films you would recommend? Could you tell me your top 10 or 20?
@Azman— I don’t really do genre definitions either. I mean i love genre films– all of them– but so many films blur the lines and I’ve found over the years when doing lists like this that most of the discussion gets dominated by things like whether ____ is a horror/scf-fi film or not—- not sure what that accomplishes. “is Jaws a horror film? Is Silence of the Lambs?” that kind of stuff. Certainly films like Blade Runner, Brazil, Stalker… recent ones like Ad Astra, Blade Runner 2049 and Under the Skin are superb sci-fi films. Not sure if all will fit your definition of full-blown science fiction
Ya those are the kind of sci-fi movies I am talking about. I have seen them all though. Do you have any other recommendations for classic sci fi movies? Pre 2010.
Also, the silence of the lambs and jaws are definitely more horror than crime/thriller and jaws may be my favorite horror film of all time.
@Azman— both versions of The Thing, Metropolis, 12 Monkeys, The Fly (1986 by Cronenberg) a few more…
I’ll check out 12 monkeys since I loved Brazil. I have seen the rest. Any other recommendations?
@Jonathan— quite a concidence but I just finished the page on french auteur Jean-Pierre Jeunet here http://thecinemaarchives.com/2020/02/23/the-158th-best-director-of-all-time-jean-pierre-jeunet/ — if you loved Brazil you should check out The City of Lost Children as well
saw this last night didn’t like it. wasn’t impressed. maybe if i never saw 2001 i would think it were the best thing ever. the characters dying meant nothing to me because they weren’t characters and all the scares weren’t scary. all the good visual motifs would be surpassed by the masterful blade runner or the very good planet of the apes (tim burton).
You may enjoy Cameron’s Aliens. It is a very different movie in many ways.
@m – so you weren’t impressed because it isn’t 2001 or Blade Runner? That doesn’t seem like a real critique. Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes?
@m. Well I’m certainly not a big fan of this movie either, although it’s very good.
Although you really shouldn’t have seen it thinking it was a horror movie, just like a movie, it’s more enjoyable, i agree, when you see Aliens it will be more fun.
@Aldo- I’m very surprised to hear you aren’t a fan of Alien, either
While i don’t consider myself a fan i did like it unlike @m and i think it’s a masterpiece, but I’ve always preferred Blade Runner, just a personal choice.
@Aldo- thanks for the comment. I don’t think preferring Blade Runner is a personal choice. Right? It is better. No shame in that. But viewing Alien through the “it isn’t 2001 or Blade Runner” feels like crazy lens to view and evaluate a movie through
i’m looking forward to it since i love terminator and it from the clips i’ve seen it looks good.
There is not one single aspect of any dimension of the craft of filmmaking where Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes comes remotely close to Alien. If it’s not at the level of 2001 or Blade Runner then it shares that in common with virtually every film ever made. However, in terms of atmospheric production design, lighting, and effects (mise-en-scene), Alien is in the top 1/10th of one percent of all the films ever made.
[…] Alien – R. Scott […]
Has anyone seen the Director’s Cut? I have not seen any version yet but am interested in doing so. If anyone has which is better?
@James this article here discusses all 11 of Scott’s different directors cuts including Alien:
To paraphrase – only one minute shorter, changes to sound effects and some small edits.
@Harry – thanks for the share, I love Blade Runner but overall have mixed feelings about Scott. I have found that some of his films which I really liked when I was younger such as American Gangster and Gladiator were a little underwhelming although they have their moments.
Woah. Watched this for the first time. Big big masterpiece
Question for Drake/readers of the site: do you think the sets are better here or in Star Wars (1977 and/or Empire Strikes Back)?
@Matthew- Great work getting to this one. To your question- I would say here I think. How about you?
I would also probably agree. I think the best (or atleast my favorite) from all 3 movies would have to be the carbonite freezing chamber in Empire (the set and lighting is pure cinematic bliss), but I do probably think that Alien is the most consistently great in this department
@Matthew – to answer your original question, I have given rewatches to Alien, Star Wars and ESB this year and I do think Alien has the superior sets – especially ship during the self destruct sequence near the end.
Thanks for the response. I think I’m with you as well
@Matthew – Never have been able to get into Star Wars, tried a few times but not for me so can’t help you there.
On the other hand I also saw Alien for the 1st time just a few months ago. Curious to see what you think of James Cameron’s Aliens if you haven’t yet seen. I was very impressed by both but definitley preferred Alien (1979) which is more of a slow burn Horror film than Aliens (1986) which is more of an action film, you could even argue somewhat of a War Movie. Sigourney Weaver’s performance is phenomenal in both films, she has a commanding presence and doesn’t back down to anyone.
Star Wars was my entire childhood haha. Even outside of the nostalgia/favoritism, I greatly admire it as a work of art, but I understand why someone wouldn’t be as onboard with it as I am
I do plan on getting to Aliens as well. It being described as more of a “action” than a “slow burn horror” doesn’t excite me too much, but I always give things fair shots
@Matthew – haha I meant no offense! To be clear I can absolutely understand the appeal and really it’s more than just Star Wars I have also never really gotten into any of the Fantasy Franchises (with the exception of Harry Potter because I used to listen to audio tapes during long car rides with my family when I was a kid). And for that matter a lot of Super Hero films with exceptions of course, the Dark Knight (2008) is a MP in my book to give one example.
And to be fair I have not tried Star Wars in many years, long before I took my film appreciation to another level.
No offense taken haha.
Not to be that guy, but if you’re film appreciation/knowledge is much greater now than when you last tried it, then perhaps you should give it another shot eventually. It’s of course more geared to younger audiences so I can’t imagine it having the same sort of *magic* for adults that I would say it had on young imaginations, but who knows? And it’s still a major achievement for an art form we both love, so it’s a rewarding watch for even just that. I also think that proper context is needed more than most films for when seeing it. I’m not really sure how familiar you are with it’s impact (you probably are, it’s pretty well known), but because it’s become copied and cliched so much, it’s maybe lost the punch it’s innovation/originality once packed (I actually think I benefited from having this as one of the first films I’ve ever watched), similar to say a Goodfellas, which I told a friend to watch recently and he wasn’t really seeing the bigger picture or genius of it because it’s obviously been copied exhaustingly. The story is very archetypal (it’s the definitive Hero’s Journey in film I would say), and I think the the costumes/makeup, sets, miniature work, and puppeteering work (in Empire) specifically have gotten more and more impressive the more and more I watch pre-1977-1980 films. You’re probably of all of this, but here’s some perspective if not
you’re probably aware of all this*
@Matthew – I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to it as I’ve discovered there are several genres/subgenres/etc. that have grown on me such as Sci Fi and Westerns. Especially Westerns which have actually become one of my favorite genres. I’ve been wanting to do a Steven Spielberg Study in the near future, perhaps I’ll follow that up with a few Lucas films. I know Spielberg never directed any of the Star Wars but for some reason his name comes up in some searches for Star Wars. Any idea why?
@James Trapp No, not really. They were best friends and did collaborate often (not in Star Wars though). That’s the only reason I can think of