The Film: Alien (dir. Ridley Scott, 1979)
Age at Which Author Finally Saw It: 33
How Could You Have Missed It?: Even though I live for great science fiction, horror films don’t appeal to me. I am easily spooked and incapable of shaking off fear before I go to bed and dream. I was worried Alien would be too scary for me to handle and have been putting off watching it for years.
Impressions: I was correct to be nervous about the horror factor, but it was daylight and I put a light on for good measure. With those comforts (and a blanket to hide behind when necessary), I was able to appreciate what a fine film Alien is. The suspense was layered and leveraged just right, and I was surprised to see how well the sets and effects hold up, given that the film is over thirty years old.
Along that line, I was especially blown away by Ellen Ripley. Sigourney Weaver hit a wonderful note as a fresh-faced, stubborn officer. When you consider the year this movie was released, it’s remarkable to have a woman portray such an important protagonist in a genre film. Actually, it’s not even that common in the present. Making Ripley the last member of the Nostromo’s crew standing was a risk, and it paid off.
My initial thought about Ripley was, “what a badass.” But, that’s not right. She’s a survivor. While she’s obviously capable, it’s not like she kills the Xenomorph and saves the entire crew. She uses her intelligence to get out alive and stop the creature from hitching a ride to Earth. Her actions pave the way for her to become a badass, but she’s not there just yet. I appreciate the difference. And I was so frakking relieved that Jones the cat survived.
As far as the alien, I don’t want to meet one in a dark corridor. I’ve heard of facehuggers, chestbursters, and Xenomorphs, but didn’t realize they were all the same alien. It was neat and terrifying to watch it grow up over the course of the movie. And though the film could easily have only been about the alien discovery and gore, I love the depth added by the fact that someone wanted the Xenomorph on Earth for nefarious purposes. I can’t resist a conspiracy. I think this Ridley Scott character is one to be watched.
Are you a Convert?: Yes. Alien was a brilliant mix of thrills and sci-fi, and I was riveted for the duration of the movie. Though I didn’t fall for it to the extent that I’ll be crafting an Ellen Ripley cosplay (the best way I know to express my devotion to a film), I will be making it a point to check out some of the sequels.