Saturday, March 20, 2010

Post-Oscar Doldrums

I'm afraid that since the Oscars I haven't been able to get back into my movie-watching. I've been searching for a theme of movies to follow and, well, I may have found my theme after sitting down to watch a classic. I've wanted to share this film with my daughter for months (Netflix must have been wondering what happened to it) and we finally found the time to view it tonight. The classic I'm referring to is:


This Ridley Scott masterpiece was still edge of your seat scary even 30 years later. Although it starts quietly with beautiful shots of space and the cargo ship where the body of the film takes place, as well as glimpses of each character, it then builds to the moment when they discover what seems to be an SOS signal from a nearby planet. The scenes of the planet and the ship in space look rudimentary compared to today's movies but the eerie feeling of foreboding certainly is not. The movie is filmed in darkness and shadows that bring so much tension and suspense that you don't miss or need the fancy special effects of today.

The crew of the Nostromo land on the planet where the SOS originated, send out a search team to explore, and the search team discovers an abandoned space vehicle that has apparently crashed on the planet. The team explores the vehicle and one of the members, Kane (John Hurt) discovers a pod of egg-like things one of which ruptures open and some kind of creature attaches itself to Kane's face. The team rushes Kane back to the Nostromo, whereupon all heck breaks loose. Kane actually seems to recover for a brief period, the creature falls off, and they sit down to dinner. What follows is one of the most horrific and memorable scenes ever filmed in the realm of Sci fi. As Kane is having his dinner, he becomes distressed, starts to convulse and ripping out of his stomach comes the "alien." It screams and scurries away leaving the rest of the crew staring in utter disbelief and horror. From there the film moves into a film about survival. Ultimately, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is left alone (with the ship's cat, Jonesy) to deal with the alien and figure out a way to kill it and live. Her calm determination, skill, intelligence and yes, a little bit of luck, make her one of the most powerful women characters in the history of the cinema. "Alien" is truly a wonderful piece of story-telling and is science fiction at it's best.

Next up: "Aliens" - which I saw in 1986 and couldn't sleep for a week after seeing. It was directed by someone we all know now - James Cameron of Titanic and Avatar fame. I'll let you know if I can sleep after seeing it the second time!

1 comment:

  1. "Inability to sleep" is why I've never seen this film in its entirety. I'm such a wimp when it comes to scary movies. But I once made it through "Silence of the Lambs," so maybe I should give Alien another try.