Thursday, 25 October 2012

Cinematic Spaces Film Review: Alien (1979)

Alien (1979) was directed by Ridley Scott and had art influences throughout the film from Hans Rudolph Giger, a famous artist known for his surreal ‘biomechanical’ art style which was incorporated well into Alien.
When Alien was released over in America, it came at a time when man had started to fear the power of machines due to a nuclear power plant mishap that happened months before Aliens release; the relationship between Ridley and ‘Mother’ the ships on-board AI portrayed the threat machines could have on humans and helped sell the films to the Americans, as it sparked their interest with machines and the idea that they could harm us.

One of the most interesting and controversial areas that surround the film is Gigers artwork that was used for the designs of the main antagonist ‘Alien’ and his creation of ships and architecture; there have been numerous theories that suggest underlying sexual themes in Alien that have been portrayed through the objects and characters. Figure 1 is an image of the main antagonist, Alien, with his retractable second mouth ready to attack, this second mouth has been considered a sexual object; ‘The elongated shape of the aliens head, as well as the retractable second mouth, symbolises a penis’ (Willratwedge, Blogspot Name, 2012). There are also reviews and articles about the theme of sexual reproduction and rape that is also said to run through the film. 
Figure 1
Alien was filmed 10 years on from Barbarella, and unlike Barbarella, they managed to create a realistic looking future which, aside from technology improvements and effects, hasn’t dated the film and isn’t distinguishable to any specific decade.
The film uses a combination of Giger’s art style in the infrastructure as well as using old looking technology that has been placed into a futuristic setting; all of this helps to contribute to the feel of the surrounds and to the aesthetics. Scott didn’t put the crew on a high-tech, Star Trek type ship but instead on a commercial mining ship. It’s a mix of white, cluttered, blue-collar living quarters and grimy, wire and pipe filled corridors that adds to the dark and tense atmosphere,’ (Ben, 2012)

Figure 2
Alien spawned off many sequels that have been created over the last 20 years, however, the first Alien was filmed using sets and actual areas that the actors could interact with and use; this created a film that felt very real and showed audiences that the areas they are running around in exist. All of that helped to create a film with a very dynamic use of space and helped to put the audience right into the film as well as give it a sense of realism. 'It brings the unimaginable to life, creating a relatable fear from unknown and a sense of realism from the outlandish,(Barahona, 2011)’ This quote helps to justify the views people had in regards to the sets of Alien; considering it was made in 1979, the film was created with minimal CG, which gave the film a sense of realism that the sequels lack due to the use of CG and effects instead of sets.

Figure 3




Alexander Barahona. In: [online] At: (Accessed on: 25/10/12)

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