Hard to believe that I had never seen Alien in its entirety until just the other evening. This was another movie that as a kid, I would sit on the floor, mesmerized, and would catch certain scenes with my dad in the evening. I remember him sipping a beer, flipping channels and stopping for the chestburster scene. I’m pretty sure he knew what was coming, and my reaction was probably worth the wait. Then there was my mom telling him to turn Alien off, I shouldn’t be watching such “disgusting things.” But mom, that was the best part! I think we snuck in a few more scenes before bedtime. Now, I’ve proudly added The Alien Anthology to my blu-ray collection and I’m the one waiting for a reaction as I sip a beer on the couch. Funny how time moves but some things never change.
When the crew of the spaceship Nostromo receive an odd message, they are awakened from their suspended sleep to investigate. What they find is an alien ship, full of eggs. And when one of the crew investigating, comes in contact with a newly hatched alien, the choice to bring him back onto the ship, puts the whole crew in grave danger.
A space crew should function like clockwork, but there seems to be a few kinks in the crew of Nostromo. There is a sense of camaraderie as they eat together around their table. They all have their own tasks, but some are more willing to pull their weight than others. Then there is the moment when Kane (John Hurt) is brought back on board, with the alien covering his face. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is quick to point out the rules of quarantine prohibit him from coming back within 24 hours of contact with alien life. Yet, the rest of the crew would rather take the risk of bringing an alien on board in attempts to save Kane. Ripley holds the right to be royally pissed and hand out a big I-told-you-so, but instead, she is resourceful, quick thinking and one of the most bad-ass female characters to ever grace the screen.
The spaceship Nostromo and everything inside of it looks like a futuristic depiction of the time period the film was made. At times, walls, buttons and hallways reminded me of old gadgets like VCRs, walkmans, floppy disks and some of the first PCs, only massively beefed up. Today, it feels like a retro and gritty futuristic outlook. When things go haywire, the flashing, whirling lights and fog that starts to spray everywhere, it feels like a technological nightmare.
While the Academy was happy to give Alien the award for visual effects and hold a nomination in art direction, best picture was not in the picture. A gruesome, science fiction tale with a strong female lead would have certainly shaken the contenders up in 1979, but I guess Apocalypse Now took the startling, gritty spot for the year. Still, time has only made Alien a more powerful and well loved film.
I’m happy to say that I absolutely love Alien, every minute of it. The story is as tight and efficient, with plenty of intense action, suspense and scary drama. I was hanging on every moment. Best of all, it leaves me very excited to see Ridley Scott’s next instalment to the Alien series, Prometheus.
“I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”