Sunday, 23 October 2016

Alien film review

(Figure 1) ALIEN movie poster [Poster]

Released in 1979 ALIEN (see fig 1) Directed by Ridley Scott(see fig2) scared thousands of viewers by placing them aboard the 'Starship Nostromo', a commercial ship on it's way back to earth, the crew intersects a distress signal which is where things turn sour, every crew member ends up being killed by an alien and the female protagonist escapes with her life... and a cat.

The film uses long sequences and close-ups to convey a sense of realism and terror, having the camera focus on a door or hallway that at first has nothing in it worries the audience, it adds suspense as the audience wonders "why? what's going to happen? where's the monster?", the shot will linger just enough to make some people lean forward wondering what it is they are missing in this shot before throwing a jump-scare at them.
(Figure 2) Ridley Scott [Photograph]

Speaking of jump-scares, they are used to good effect in this film, while in this day and age they may seem telegraphed and obvious we need to remember that at the time of filming it was not the norm, you can thank Scott for making it more mainstream in the medium. "No film I have seen in the last year or so, excluding perhaps The Deer Hunter, emanates so strong a whiff of palpable, nerve-straining shock." (Dareck Malcolm, 1979) this quote from 1979 shows the reaction the film had at the time with the audience.

It is common knowledge that H.R Giger worked with Scott to create the art for the film, everything from the alien to the derelict ship was designed by Giger, at the time many considered Giger's work to be too much for the general public but Scott insisted on bringing Giger on and eventually won the argument.
The alien is based on Gigers work "Necronom IV"(see fig 3)

(Figure 3) Necronom IV [Painting]
It is not the first Survival Horror film however, as Roger Ebert put it: "At its most fundamental level, 'Alien' is a movie about things that can jump out of the dark and kill you. It shares a kinship with the shark in 'Jaws,' (1975) Michael Myers in 'Halloween,' (1979) and assorted spiders, snakes, tarantulas and stalkers. Its most obvious influence is Howard Hawks' 'The Thing' (1951), which was also about a team in an isolated outpost who discover a long-dormant alien, bring it inside, and are picked off one by one as it haunts the corridors. Look at that movie, and you see 'Alien' in embryo." (2003) Ebert compares the film to others such as Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975), John Carpenter's Halloween (1979) and Howards Hawks' The Thing (1951) to help readers get a better understanding of the antagonist and where Ridley Scott may have gotten inspiration from.

The film is a must watch for anyone who loves a good, well paced survival horror.
And remember: "In space, no one can hear you scream" (Ridley Scott 1979)


  • Alien (1979) [Film] Ridley Scott.
  • Alien Movie Review, Rodger Ebert (2003) [Website] [Accessed 22/10/16]
  • Audio Commentary on the making of Alien (2012) [Blue-ray Special feature] Ridley Scott & Crew.
  • Darek Malcolm's Alien review from 1979 (2009) [Website archive] [Accessed 22/10/16]
  • Halloween (1979) [Film] John Carpenter.
  • H.R Giger's Website [Website] [Acessed 22/10/16]
  • Jaws (1975) [Film] Steven Spielberg.
  • The Thing (1951) [Film] Howard Hawks.


  • (Figure 1) ALIEN movie poster [Poster] (1979)
  • (Figure 3) Necronom IV [Painting] (1976)
  • (Figure 2) Ridley Scott [Photograph] (Date unknown)


  1. I can't believe this took me just under 3 hours to do.

  2. Hi David,

    This is better now that you are focussing more on the visuals etc... BUT - as Joe commented on your '2001' review, you really need to start thinking in depth about the themes and motifs that might be present in the film, and discuss those. For example, there is discussion around the 'Abject', the female representation, rape etc, all to be found if you dig a little deeper.
    Have another look at the referencing guide here, for details on how to reference the quotes and format your bibliography correctly.

    1. Thanks Jackie i was trying to find that harvard referencing page

    2. Hi David,

      You can actually download it as a PDF so it's always handy...