Monday, 3 November 2014

Film Review - Alien (1979)

Fig.1 Alien (1979) Movie Poster

Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) raised the bar of what was expected from a science fiction movie as it introduced elements of horror, and through it's magnificent vision of the future, that is still admired today, it set the standard for production design in film. Upon reviewing the Aline Anthology Blu-ray collection,  R.L. Shaffer sums up his thoughts on the film by saying "Ridley Scott's Alien is nothing short of a masterpiece. Technically brilliant, tense, horrifying and visually breathtaking..." - ( Shaffer 2010).

Fig.2 Nostromo crew at dinner

When you are first introduced to the characters, it is unclear as to who is the main protagonist of the story, and even asks if there is one. AL the charcaters, almost, have equal screen time and sets of dialogue. It really demonstrates how far we have come in the fact that, in comparison to "King Kong" (1933), we have a group of characters that include 4 white men, 1 black man and 2 women. Although, it may be argued that there are more men means that they are still the best choice for jobs like what they have, throughout the whole film, Ellen, Lambert and Parker are all treated with respect and not looked down upon. John Larsen even went on to call the film "...a seminal feminist action flick." - (LArsen, 2010). You can see from the picture above a small glimpse of the style of architecture and it is just incredible. It is a brilliant vision of what the film makers and production designers thought the future was going to be like. We see extremely pixelated computers, small screens and large buttons. These are things we probably wouldn't see today.  If the film was created now, it would look so much different. The review by the Variety magasine refers to film as being "An old-fashioned scary movie set in a highly realistic sci-fi future," - (Variety Magasine, 1978)

Fig.3 Kane's death

Unsurprisingly, the film has moments that have gone down in movie history, especially the scene of Kane's death. Without the help of CGI, this had to be done practically and it was choreographed to perfection. You dare not take you're eyes off the screen, even though it is pretty gruesome, you can't help but adore how this scene was made. The film influences modern science-fiction and horror movies, as the jumps scares, that the film is famous for, have been done over and over again, which unfortunately for the film has made it none to different to modern films. Regardless of this, the film will leave you shaking with fear, but you still can't wait to see what happens next. 

Fig.4 The Xenomorph

The film's incredible use of special effects is also highlighted by the Alien/Xenomorph itself. We do not get the opportunity to see the creature fully until the final scenes of the film. This is a brilliant way of keeping the creature hidden and making it feel more realistic. It makes the viewer believe that it is always hiding in the shadows. The fact that the main villian, if you can call it that, is just a guy in costume is something that modern audiences would laugh and consider cheap, as we are bombarded with large CGI beasts that get 95% of the screen time. We hardly in fact see the xenomorph at all, until it is near it's death. 

Illustration List:

Fig.1 Alien (1979) Movie Poster - (Accessed on 03/11/2014)

Fig.2 Nostromo crew at dinner- (Accessed on 03/11/2014)

Fig.3 Kane's death - (Accessed on 03/11/2014)

Fig.4 The Xenomorph - (Accessed on 03/11/2014)


Larsen, John (2012) - Alien (1979) Movie Review - (Accessed on 03/11/2014)

Shaffer, R.L. (2010) - Alien Anthollogy Blu-ray Review -  (Accessed on 03/11/2014)

Variety (1978) - Alien (1979) Review - (Accessed on 03/11/2014)


  1. Hi Dan,

    Once again, you have touched on some valid points here.
    Make sure that you are consistent with your referencing within the text - you just need the surname and the date, both in brackets, and not italicised, so for example (Larsen, 2012)
    Make sure you proofread before you publish - there is one long sentence here that is quite jumbled...

    'The film is influences modern science-fiction and horror movies, as the jumps scares that the film is famous for, have been done over and over again, which unfortunately for the film has made none to different to modern films in the eyes of modern viewers.'

    Don't forget that your bibliography needs to be arranged in alphabetical order, by the authors surname, so in your case here it would be Larsen, Shaffer and Variety.

  2. Hi Jackie.
    I have corrected all of these little issues. Hope it's all fine now.