Τρίτη, 4 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012

Alien

Alien Film



Alien  is the second film of Ridley Scott and it’s one of the most significant horror and science fiction films. The plot structure of Alien film is about the struggle of a spaceship’s crew to survive against an aggressive extraterrestrial monster that stalks and kills the crew of the spaceship. Alien screenplay was written by Dan O' Bannon. Alien is an important film with high quality screenplay, directing and production values. Alien film was produced through Brandyshire Productions and the theater distribution was made by 20th Century Fox.

Alien was a huge commercial success and received Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and other significant awards among them Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. In 2002, the The Library of the Congress inducted into the National Film Registry the Alien film for historical preservation as a significant film which is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. In 2008 the American Film Institute ranked Alien as the seventh - best film in Science Fiction genre.

The Plot structure of Alien


Nostromo is a merchant spaceship and is returning to Earth from Thedus transferring twenty million tons of mineral ore, a refinery and seven member crew in stasis (stasis is a science fictional term and is used when characters of the story travel in Space in deep sleep to denote the suspension of the passage of time). Nostromo receives a message from an unknown origin from an asteroid and the copmuter of Nostromo awakens the crew. Following standing orders from their employers, Nostromo is detached from it’s refinery and lands on the asteroid, causing some damage to the ship. The Captain of Nostromo - Captain Dallas with  the Executive Officer Kane and with the Navigator Lambert move out of spaceship to search for the source of the signal, the other four members of the crew stay behind on board, to repair the spaceship and to monitor the exploration of the transmission source. (Stay behind crew members are Warrant Officer Ripley, Science Officer Ash, Engineer Brett and Parker).

The exploration team Dallas, Kane and Lambert found that the message is being transmitted from a derelict alien spacecraft. Also, they found inside the alien spacecraft a dead large alien creature. At the same time, the computer of Nostromo deciphers the signal and the Warrant Officer Ripley believes that the message its a kind of  of an emergency and warning message. The executive officer of Nostromo Kane discovers in the alien spaceship a huge chamber full of eggs, one of them releases an alien creature that that attacks and attaches itself on Kane’s face. The Captain Dallas and Navigator Lambert move Kane back to Nostromo spaceship, the science officer of Nostromo allows them to enter the spaceship against the orders of Warrant Officer and the ship’s quarantine protocol. They can’t remove the alien creature from Kane’s face and the creatures blood is acid. Finally the alien creature detaches from Kane’s face and it dies. The ship is repaired and Nostromo continue it’s route back to earth.

Kane awakens unharmed and without pain and he is ready to re - enter stasis and continue the space travel back to Earth. Unfortunately, during a meal an alien creature bursts from Kane’s chest. The creature is aggressive and it attacks and kills Kane and then escapes into the ship.

Nostromo is a commercial ship and it’s not armed with conventional weapons, the crew tries to locate and kill the alien creature by using flamethrowers and electric probs. The Engineer of Nostromo Bret is being attacked by a now - fully - grown Alien and it disappears with the dead body of Bret into the ship’s air shafts. Captain Dallas intends to kill the Alien by forcing the creature into an airlock and then to expel it into the space, but alien creature is intelligent and it traps Captain Dallas and kills him.  

The navigator of Nostromo Lambert encourage the remaining crew members to escape using the ship’s shuttle. Unfortunately for them the shuttle can not support four member crew. Then the Warrant Officer of Nostromo Ripley discovers that Ash has ordered and programmed the Nostromo computer to navigate the spaceship back to Earth with the Alien trapped into Nostromo even at the cost of the crew’s lives. Aftera fight between Ash and Ripley, Parker intervenes and with a blow from a fire extinguisher is revealed that Ash is an android. Ash predicts that the other members of crew will not survive.

There are only three alive crew members and they are thinking to escape by using Nostromo’s shuttle and to destroy Allien by using self - destruction sequel of spaceship. Parker and Lambert are killed by Allien, while were gathering supplies before enter into the shuttle. Ripley is ready to depart from Nostromo and it has initiated the self - destruct sequence of Nostromo but her way to shuttle is being blocked by the Alien creature. Ripley unsuccessfully attempts to abort the self - destruction mechanism, she returns and finds the Allien gone and enters into shuttle and escapes from Nostromo.

Ripley is on the shuttle traveling back to Earth as she is preparing to enter stasis discovers that the Alien creature is inside the shuttle. She wears a space suit and starts to fight the Alien villain, Ripley blasts the creature into space and then she puts herself into stasis and she continues her trip back to Earth.

Alien - Origins and sources of inspiration  


The roots of Alien film can be traced on the Science Fiction / horror crossover of the 50s. As source of inspiration with elements of horror and science fiction is “It! There terror from beyond the space” (Edward L. Cahn, 1958), both films share a lot of similarities in plot structure. In the “It!” the villain is a a blood - drinking martian who hides in a spaceship’s air shafts and kills astronauts one by one. The screenwriter of “It!” film Jerome Bixby, later said that the inspiration of “It!” has come for Howard Hawks classic “The thing from another world ”.

In another 50’s film “Them!” (Gordon Douglas, 1954), the plot structure is about giant ants running amok in the dust bowls of the American southwest. In the film “Them!" film we can find common elements with  Alien film such as  cocoons, tunnels and flamethrowers. Another 50’s film “The Quatermass Xperiment” (Val Guest, 1955) also discuss the concept of contamination by alien creatures with an unknown to human race reproductive cycle and immature and arrogant scientists whose thirst for knowledge (fame, glory and money) puts humanity at risk.

Also, there are similarities between Alien and the Italian Film of “Planet of Vampires / Terrore nello spazio” (Mario Bava, 1965) according to the plot structure                      
of the planet of vampires a spaceship receives a distress message (transmission) from a uncharted planet, the spaceship lands on the unknown planet, to discover that aliens are aggressive and deadly, the crew of the spaceship dies on the Planet of Vampires. Also, the legendary film of Stanley Kubrick 2001:A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) explore the loniless of space and the opportunity of humanity to encounter an alien lifeform.

Among cinema writers and critiques there is also the idea of Alien similarity with non - Science Fiction creature movies. According to rumours the Alien script was presented to Hollywood producers as “Jaws in Space”. Actually, there are same similarities in plot structure of both films. We can identify the reason of danger - in both films corrupt organizations (in Jaws public in Alien private corporation) are at least responsible for the risk of human lives, in both films the characterizations are fictional and in both films the villain creatures are kept very wisely unseen.

The screenwriter of Alien, Dan O' Bannon had written the science fiction - comedy film Dark Star (John Carpenter, 1974) after the box office failure of Drak Star O Bannon wanted to write a script to scare audience. He used the ideas, concepts, plot elements of the above mentioned films and especially science fiction and horror genres.

The Production of Alien film


Shooting of Alien film started on 25 July 1978 and lasted about four weeks, at Bray (Ireland) was build the set of Derelict with a revolving chair for the “Space Jockey” that allowed reverse angles to be filmed without the need to build a complete set. On the other hand the Nostromo sets were build at Shepperton Studios (Surrey, England). Four sound stages of Shepperton Studios were used for the production of Allien film. Also, during the shots in Shepperton Studios, children were used in miniature space suits for the scene where the crew are first seen leaving the spaceship Nostromo on the alien planet - then when they find the Space Jockey. With this technique Ridley Scott minimized the cost of shooting and maximize the use of film techniques to create the illusion to audience of a full size space craft and Nostromo craft.

The strategy was also to make Nostromo as functional as possible and he used old aircraft parts to construct the bridge, which was deliberately built with a low ceiling to create also a claustrophobic feel. I need to highlight that three models of Nostromo where build. Firstly, a twelve - inch version for medium and long shots, Secondly, another one model, forty eight inch size for rear shots - because it was a need to create the illusion that Nostromo engines are rear. Thirty, a seven - ton rig used for early scenes on the planet’s surface and for the undocking film sequence.  

Four alien models were build for the needs of Alien film. The first Alien model is the creature on the Derelict. The other models are the face hunger, the chest - burster and one full - size model.

Ridley Scott wanted to follow Alfred Hitchcock’s approach to not present the Alien at once, he preferring only parts to be seen at any one time so that much of its appearance was left to the audience’s imagination. Actually, Ridley Scott achieved to create the illusion that the creature is growing larger and changed throughout the film, in reality there was only one full - sized model. Ridley Scott's effort was  to explore the Alien’s limited life cycle, explaining at the end of the film, that :

You see slime emanating from the Big Alien’s body because you are trying to convey that maybe he’s sealing himself in vain, like in a cocoon. Also, by that point, he has to be evoked to attack, because he has to get on with his life cycle”.

I need to highlight that, in the plot structure of the film, apart from John Hurt, none of the cast had seen the chest eating Alien before Kane’s death, also nobody of the crew was scared for the amount of blood that came from the offal packed Hurt’s chest, except from Veronica Cartwright, who received a spray in the face. Actually, animal organs were used for the needs of this film and for the needs of egg opening scene - the membrane on display is a cow’s stomach  and the tentacle that whips out is a sheep’s intestine.


To be continued

Elias Stoikos                                        
     

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