Thursday, 30 October 2014

Film Review - Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

Fig 1. Alien Poster

Although Alien has a fairly simple plot which doesn't stand out from other horror films of the time, its set design and the design of the 'alien' are what makes it so much more advanced in comparison to other films of the decade. The spaces aboard the derelict ship and the creature itself were designed by surrealist H.R. Giger. Through Ridley Scott's Vision and Giger's design, it is no surprise that Alien is a cult classic that has since inspired many sequels and more recently, a prequel.

''It was Giger who cracked Alien, not just with the creature itself (rarely seen in full anyway), but with the organic innards of the derelict ship and its ghostly egg chamber.'' (Newman, s.d.) 
Giger's designs for the 'alien' and the derelict ship environments are very organic and uncomfortable for the viewer. These designs clash very clearly against the warm, industrial enviroments seen aboard 'The Nostromo'. As such it is easy to determine the division between hot and cold. The human interiors use whites, reds and blues (See Fig 2) while the alien interiors use blacks, blues and greens (See Fig 3).

Fig 2. Nostromo Interior

Fig 3. Derelict Ship Interior

If it wasn't for the breath-taking design, the film may well have gotten lost in the mess of generic horror. The plot is simple and in some ways, weak. If you take the plot in its simplistic form it sounds so generic, its barely worth giving it a second look, as Derek Malcolm from The Guardian explains ''The basics of the plot are simple. Seven astronauts, working on a battered space tug that is apparently commercially owned, touch down on another planet, find something odd for the boffins back home, bring it back into the ship and are faced with an ever-growing monster.'' (Malcolm, 2009). Perhaps the reason it took off as it did is because the mix of design, characters and plot just worked.

Illustration List
Scott, R (1979) Figure 1. Alien Poster. (Accessed on 26/10/14)

Scott, R (1979) Figure 2. Nostromo Interior. (Accessed on 30/10/14)

Scott, R (1979) Figure 3. Derelict Ship Interior. (Accessed on 30/10/14)


Newman, K (s.d.) (Accessed on 29/10/14)

Malcolm, D (2009) (Accessed on 30/10/14)


  1. Hi Jack,

    First things first - your first quote is appearing as black text, which is near enough impossible to read on the grey background...

    You have started to discuss some of the important aspects of this film, however I feel you could possibly have gone into them in a bit more depth; for example, you touch on the difference between the 'Nostromo' environment and the 'alien' environment - it might have been good to analyse these a bit deeper... the use of sexual imagery both in the set design, and the design of the alien, for example.
    You could also have looked at the female role within the film; is Ripley the type of female character that audiences would have expected to see? Is she the typical 'screamer'?

    You need to start to delve a little deeper now, in order to really show that you are considering all the film theory research out there...

    1. I see what you mean, I'll bear that in mind for my next film review, thanks :)