Though I was a little girl when Alien first hit the screens, I understood the importance of the movie’s “strong girl “ heroine being the last person alive. Halloween and Jamie Lee Curtis had released the year before and to see a woman as the last survivor in a movie was awesome. Two were almost unheard of. (My favorite heroine from those days was Sissy Spacek’s Carrie, but since she died at the end of her movie, it wasn’t too happy an ending.)
Besides the girl power, my adult self has to admit that I felt quite a few of the incidents in the movie were a little unbelievable. It seemed that it shouldn’t have been so easy for Ash to override Ripley and allow Kane back onto the spacecraft. I wanted there to be a check and balance in that instance, so that the very thing that happened could not be an easy possibility. And when Kane emerges from his coma, I couldn’t believe the crew just allowed him out of the bed, much less the room he was laying in, to let him join them at the dinner table. If someone has recently had an alien organism attached to his body, one that no one knows anything about, I doubt that person would be totally okay. And if he appeared to be, I would think that suspicious. That fellow would have had to have stayed on lock down for the remainder of the trip, and even after returning to Earth. If he had broken out, it would have been a different thing. But they led him out, patting him on the back and laughing with him. Not a good move.
The most standout moment in the story for me was when Ripley approaches Dallas to talk to him about Ash and Dallas states, “I don’t trust anyone.” I get that there has to be a certain amount of trust among team members, especially when performing difficult tasks, but I totally understand Dallas. What I don’t understand is why Ripley took so long to investigate what Ash was telling her about the organism herself, when she clearly didn’t trust him herself. He was supposedly a science expert and his prolonged hemming and hawing made me mistrust him. They should have been on his tail much earlier.
As for the construct of the monster, I didn’t find its appearance particularly frightening; however, its capacity for survival was terrifying. It had acid that could eat through steel as blood, and it could morph and survive any environment. It was, as Ash called it, “The perfect organism.” That meant that defeating it would be especially difficult. Also, placing the story in the ultimate unknown realm of Outer Space was perfect. Where exactly would the crew run in trying to escape the creature? What could they possibly do when they were already in a place that humankind as a whole knew very little about? That sense of isolation was what made their situation scary.
Ripley was further isolated when she escaped from the main ship in the shuttle and only had the cat for company. That the alien beat her to the shuttle upped the ante for her, and she had to think quickly, all alone, to try and defeat it. She was able to persevere, and I cheered for her. And the cat. But even never having seen any of the sequels, having the “perfect organism” just floating through space, burned or not, seemed like a real good opening for other installments.
Alien. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perf. Tom Skerrit, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica
Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yahpet Kotto, Bolaji Badejo,
and Helen Horton (voice). Twentieth Century Fox, 1979. Film.