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Peter T Chattaway

alien: the director's cut!

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I guess it's the along the same feelings that Gene Siskel had when children in films are victimized to gain audience sympathy (IIRC, he had serious issues with Aliens on this very subject but, on the other hand, didn't offer that same criticism to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e7wP1DRJjU

Wow. Ebert's defense of the child-in-peril bit includes one while-he-was-watching-it theory that has never, ever occurred to me before.

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Wow. Ebert's defense of the child-in-peril bit includes one while-he-was-watching-it theory that has never, ever occurred to me before.

Yeah, that would have been the shocker of shockers had Cameron gone that route. I haven't seen Alien3 since it was in theatres, so I don't really remember details about the demise of Newt.

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SDG   

Wow. Ebert's defense of the child-in-peril bit includes one while-he-was-watching-it theory that has never, ever occurred to me before.

Yeah, that would have been the shocker of shockers had Cameron gone that route. I haven't seen Alien3 since it was in theatres, so I don't really remember details about the demise of Newt.

Alien3 disposes of Newt and Hicks between films. Ripley wakes up to find that they've died in cryo.

This is such a horrible subversion of the cathartic ending of Aliens -- and the movie that unfolds from that point is so unpleasant and unrewarding, with insufficient payoff for the subversion of the original -- that I bracket Alien3 (and Alien Resurrection) as not really the same story as Aliens. No sequel that doesn't do a better job of living up to its predecessor has a right to subvert that predecessor.

Same goes for the sequels of Men in Black and The Mask of Zorro. I want to enjoy the endings of the originals without allowing the sequels mess up the happy endings (Kay's long-deferred marriage broken up by the MIB, Alejandro and Elena's marriage on the rocks, etc.).

If a sequel wants to subvert its predecessor, it has to sell me on the subversion by making the payoff worth it. If it's not worth it, as far as I'm concerned the sequel didn't happen. So, when I watch Aliens, as far as I'm concerned, Ripley, Hicks and Newt go back to earth and live happily ever after.

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If a sequel wants to subvert its predecessor, it has to sell me on the subversion by making the payoff worth it. If it's not worth it, as far as I'm concerned the sequel didn't happen. So, when I watch Aliens, as far as I'm concerned, Ripley, Hicks and Newt go back to earth and live happily ever after.

Oh, I completely agree. That is why I never went all in on the Alien Quadrology DVD set, and waited until just the first two from that set were made available individually. The others don't exist for me. Wish I could go to Lacuna, Inc. and have memories of those two films erased.

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The behind the scenes material for Alien 3 was absolutely fascinating, and some of my favorite supplemental material ever.

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SDG wrote:

: Alien3 disposes of Newt and Hicks between films. Ripley wakes up to find that they've died in cryo.

Technically, it disposes of them during the opening credits. But yeah.

Incidentally, Matt Zoller Seitz has an interesting video on the opening credits of Alien3, and how they differ from the opening credits of the previous films, and how they fit into director David Fincher's overall aesthetic, here.

Also, if memory serves, the comic (and perhaps an earlier version of the screenplay?) indicated that the alien HAD infested Newt, but then it migrated to Ripley after Newt died in the crash.

FWIW, I also vaguely recall that, when I reviewed Fight Club many moons ago, I cited the line in that film where someone says "I wanted to destroy something beautiful", and I drew a link between that film and the deaths of Newt and Gwyneth Paltrow in two of Fincher's previous films.

: If a sequel wants to subvert its predecessor, it has to sell me on the subversion by making the payoff worth it. If it's not worth it, as far as I'm concerned the sequel didn't happen. So, when I watch Aliens, as far as I'm concerned, Ripley, Hicks and Newt go back to earth and live happily ever after.

Hmmm... what do you make of the Aliens comics that Mark Verheiden etc. wrote for Dark Horse in the late '80s and early '90s (i.e. before Fincher's film came out)?

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If a sequel wants to subvert its predecessor, it has to sell me on the subversion by making the payoff worth it. If it's not worth it, as far as I'm concerned the sequel didn't happen.

I am so with you on this. Prime example: Hannibal (2000). Eck!

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SDG   
: Alien3 disposes of Newt and Hicks between films. Ripley wakes up to find that they've died in cryo.

Technically, it disposes of them during the opening credits. But yeah.

Yeah, I thought so.

: If a sequel wants to subvert its predecessor, it has to sell me on the subversion by making the payoff worth it. If it's not worth it, as far as I'm concerned the sequel didn't happen. So, when I watch Aliens, as far as I'm concerned, Ripley, Hicks and Newt go back to earth and live happily ever after.

Hmmm... what do you make of the Aliens comics that Mark Verheiden etc. wrote for Dark Horse in the late '80s and early '90s (i.e. before Fincher's film came out)?

I think I've seen them, but I never read them.

If a sequel wants to subvert its predecessor, it has to sell me on the subversion by making the payoff worth it. If it's not worth it, as far as I'm concerned the sequel didn't happen.

I am so with you on this. Prime example: Hannibal (2000). Eck!

Sure. That's a subversion of a different sort; it doesn't exactly undo the presumed state of affairs established by the end of the previous film, but certainly the heroic character of Clarisse Starling is subverted in a thoroughly unpleasant way. Beyond that, though, I guess any sufficiently unpleasant and unworthy sequel is subject to the same principle, even if it doesn't radically subvert its predecessor in the way I meant. Though I do think subversion can be an extra reason to dismiss an unworthy sequel.

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Is Ridley Scott the most macho man in movies?

The Duellists won the award for Best Debut at the Cannes Film Festival, and its director was recommended to 20th Century Fox for their latest science-fiction project. He was the studio's fifth choice, behind celebrated veterans Walter Hill and Robert Altman. They declined the offer. Scott leapt at it. The film was Alien.

Fox wasn't entirely confident about its new employee. After Scott persuaded studio head Alan Ladd, Jr to spend an extra half a million dollars on a new final sequence – in which Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is attacked by the titular monster in an escape shuttle – he announced that he planned to kill off the film's gutsy heroine.

"I thought that when the alien went for her in the shuttle, he should actually slam his fist through her helmet and kill her. Then you cut to the desk, and a shadow of the alien's head comes over, and the finger of the alien starts tapping out coordinates, with obvious intelligence... But when I suggested that to the studio, they had an executive out there on set within 24 hours, saying, 'You will not do that!'. And I guess they were right, because Sigourney made a great run of Ripley." . . .

The Independent, May 26

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Saw the theatrical version of this film last night. Was struck by a couple things:

First, one factor I didn't mention, when I gave my "why I prefer Aliens to Alien" spiel in the Prometheus thread, is the arguably exploitative/titillating treatment of Ripley in the final shuttle sequence. I had actually kind of forgotten about that, but as soon as the sequence began, I thought, "Oh, right, this is *another* reason why Alien feels like a standard horror movie of its era, albeit a very stylish one." I'm sure one could marshall arguments in the scene's defense -- the need for Ripley to feel utterly vulnerable during her final encounter with the alien, etc. -- but there's something about the very low angle from which she is shot, and the unusually tiny (futuristic!?) underwear she is given to wear, that goes beyond what such an argument would require, I would argue. And I think it is noteworthy that James Cameron -- who is certainly not above nudity and titillation, as per The Terminator and Titanic -- never ever goes this route in his sequel. So, that's another point for Aliens, in my book.

(I do appreciate what Ryan H. said elsewhere about the documentary-style dialogue, though. I found it especially intriguing in light of the above article's claim that Robert Altman, of all people, was considered for the directing job at one point!)

Second, the way Ridley Scott focuses on close-ups of non-humans, indeed of mere THINGS. The opening back-and-forth close-ups between the computer screen and the emergency helmet, when all the humans on the ship are still asleep. The close-up on the cat's face as it watches one of the humans being killed or captured by the alien. The close-up on Ash's mostly-severed -- and certainly lifeless -- head when his body begins twitching and/or lunging at Parker again. And then, of course, there is the alien's almost featureless face itself, though I somehow didn't think of it in this light until that close-up of it staring at the cat in the cage.

And also, in this light, is it significant that the movie's *first* glimpse of the people in suspended animation pretty much obscures their faces -- all we really notice is bodies lying in opened tubes -- whereas our *last* glimpse, of Ripley sleeping in the shuttle at the very end of the movie, is a close-up on her face?

Anyway. Not sure quite where Ridley Scott was going with all those close-ups, but it's interesting.

Oh, and hey, speaking of that opening close-up on the computer screen... how dated *is* that machine, eh? Kind of bizarre to think that we'll be seeing sophisticated 3D holograms in the *prequel* to this movie!

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First, one factor I didn't mention, when I gave my "why I prefer Aliens to Alien" spiel in the Prometheus thread, is the arguably exploitative/titillating treatment of Ripley in the final shuttle sequence. I had actually kind of forgotten about that, but as soon as the sequence began, I thought, "Oh, right, this is *another* reason why Alien feels like a standard horror movie of its era, albeit a very stylish one." I'm sure one could marshall arguments in the scene's defense -- the need for Ripley to feel utterly vulnerable during her final encounter with the alien, etc. -- but there's something about the very low angle from which she is shot, and the unusually tiny (futuristic!?) underwear she is given to wear, that goes beyond what such an argument would require, I would argue. And I think it is noteworthy that James Cameron -- who is certainly not above nudity and titillation, as per The Terminator and Titanic -- never ever goes this route in his sequel. So, that's another point for Aliens, in my book.

You might argue that the moment serves to emphasize the highly sexualized nature of the xenomorph, if you wanted, which is really an abstracted sexual predator. On that note, take a look at this entry in PressPlay's "Vertigoed" contest, which puts VERTIGO's "Scene D'Amour" cue over that sequence in ALIEN, and note the way that the subsquent change of music brings out some very interesting things in that sequence.

Not that I'd necessary mount a defense of the exploitation of Ripley in that scene, personally speaking. It is what it is. But I'd sooner put up with that bit--which is really quite mild, by all counts--than Cameron's cartoonish characters from ALIENS, who I find by and large quite annoying (Newt included).

Edited by Ryan H.

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Oh, one other non-human close-up I forgot to mention in my previous post: the way the camera zooms in on the Space Jockey's face as the humans leave it; the shot is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Space Jockey's face is lost in shadow, and, while you might think that Ridley Scott would wave a light over it to give us one last look at it, he doesn't.

Ryan H. wrote:

: You might argue that the moment serves to emphasize the highly sexualized nature of the xenomorph, if you wanted, which is really an abstracted sexual predator.

Oh, definitely. Sex is all over this movie's subtext. (It's no accident that, e.g., the facehugger -- which basically impregnates a man by forcing a sort of oral sex on him -- is echoed later on when Ash tries to kill Ripley by rolling up a porn magazine and trying to jam it down her throat.) (At least, I *think* it was a porn magazine. There are nude photos on the wall above the desk where Ash finds the magazine.)

That said, there is still something about the particular design of Ripley's underwear, and the particular choice of camera angles in that scene, which doesn't work for me, and might even arguably go beyond what a scene with that kind of subtext requires.

: On that note, take a look at this entry in PressPlay's "Vertigoed" contest, which puts VERTIGO's "Scene D'Amour" cue over that sequence in ALIEN, and note the way that the subsquent change of music brings out some very interesting things in that sequence.

Wow, thanks for that link. That is awesome.

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Tyler   

H.R. Giger, who designed the original Alien creatures (and a host of other stuff), has died.

 

 

Giger's vision of a human skull encased in a machine appeared on the cover of "Brain Salad Surgery," a 1973 album by the rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Along with his design for Debbie Harry's solo album, "Koo Koo" (1981), it featured in a 1991 Rolling Stone magazine list of the top 100 album covers of all time.

Giger went on to work as a set designer for Hollywood, contributing to Species, Poltergeist II, Dune, and most famously Alien, for which he received a 1979 Academy Award for special effects. Frequently frustrated by the Hollywood production process, Giger eventually disowned much of the work that was attributed to him on screen.

The image of a brooding, mysterious artist was nurtured by Giger working only at night, keeping his curtains permanently drawn and dressing mainly in black -- a habit he acquired while working as a draftsman because it made Indian ink stains stand out less on his clothes.

While his work was commercially successful, critics derided it as morbid kitsch. His designs were exhibited more frequently in "Alien" theme bars, short-lived Giger museums and at tattoo conventions than in established art galleries.

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Rushmore   

I just saw a midnight showing of Alien (the original, I think, despite the words "Director's Cut" on the poster the theater was using). The first half was tense, engrossing, and terrifically effective, i.e. I was scared stiff. However, I thought the spell was broken as soon as we got a somewhat clear view of the alien in its full-grown form, during the scene when it kills Parker and Lambert. It's a great creature design, but it was still more effective when unseen.

 

In fairness, however, I should add that this was probably due to intrusive memories of a plastic Alien toy my brother and I used to play with, which perhaps should never have been manufactured.

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I just saw a midnight showing of Alien (the original, I think, despite the words "Director's Cut" on the poster the theater was using). The first half was tense, engrossing, and terrifically effective, i.e. I was scared stiff. However, I thought the spell was broken as soon as we got a somewhat clear view of the alien in its full-grown form, during the scene when it kills Parker and Lambert. It's a great creature design, but it was still more effective when unseen.

 

You meant the first 4/5ths of it were tense, engrossing, and effective?  There's only like 10 minutes left when Parker and Lambert become lunch.

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Was Neill Blomkamp trying to get a shot at an Alien sequel?  io9 ran some images this morning, originally posted on Instagram, of what reportedly was concept art commissioned by Blomkamp for a proposed sequel (presumably pre-Promethius).


AlienNeil2_zps91d0482d.jpg
AlienNeil1_zpscaea9039.jpg

Edited by John Drew

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On 3/24/2004 at 11:54 PM, Peter T Chattaway said:

Ridley Scott speculates that the "space jockey" ship may have been a "carrier" of some sort for the eggs -- like a car carrier or an aircraft carrier -- and that the space jockey's race was using the aliens for bio-military weaponry long before The Corporation thought of it. And now that I think about it, I wonder why this never seemed obvious to me. I had always thought the eggs were planted there by the aliens themselves after one of them burst out of the space jockey's chest, but now it occurs to me that, if that were the case, then we should have seen living adult aliens running around somewhere. If the eggs were all deliberately put there by the space jockey, then it makes sense that one of them might have let loose a face-hugger and attacked him, perhaps so long ago that the single alien which emerged from his chest died off long before this film begins. (I'm still not sure how any of this squares with James Cameron's assumption that there needed to be a Queen Alien laying these eggs -- was it already there when the first film took place? was it born after the humans colonized the planet? -- but anyhoo.)

Haven't seen Prometheus or A:C.  Not sure if I will.  For those that have, how close is Ridley's fifteen year old vision/speculation to the execution in his more recent prequels?  

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In O'Bannon's earlier drafts, the eggs and the space jockey were in separation locales on the deserted planet.  The ship was sending out the beacon, with the space jockey, but the eggs were in a temple filled with Alien hieroglyphics that represented the life cycle of the creature.  The implication is that the Nostromo chanced upon the same planet housing a malevolent species that the space jockey did eons earlier, and both met the same fate.  The creatures were unconnected to either the space jockey or the Nostromo.  Of course, in that draft, no Ripley, no android, no evil corporation.  Just a beastie.

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