My visit to the H.R. Giger museum in Gruyères (see related tweet!) has obviously led me to re-watch Alien, the 1979 movie directed by Ridley Scott. So here I am with a review! And, as always with the classics, I face the usual dilemma: what to say that has not already been said? Alien is simply a masterpiece. Why?
It’s a monster movie, but for most of the film you see very little of the monster (exactly like in Jaws by Spielberg), and when you see it it’s really scary.
There are just seven characters and all are perfectly characterized, so that we are able to sympathize with each of them when, inevitably, they meet their end.
The actors are all amazing: a very young Sigourney Weaver, the recently deceased Sir John Hurt and Harry Dean Stanton… one better than the other. And it’s worth pointing out that Alien is one of the first examples in modern cinema of a strong and brave woman protagonist!
Then, the film’s imagery is spectacular, surely thanks also to the advice of H.R. Giger. Every detail is perfect, every object carefully crafted, and the alien xenomorph has rightly become a classic monster, unique and recognizable everywhere.
The music and the sound effects create the right amount of tension and make the atmosphere of the film gloomy, tense and dark. So does the cinematography, with a clever use of lights and shadows that always make the viewer feel uneasy.
In short, what on paper should have been yet another B-movie with a monster killing everyone has surprised the world and has become a cinema classic. It has influenced and continues to influence pop culture, has generated several follow-ups both in cinema (some particularly poor, such as Alien: Resurrection, or Alien vs. Predator) and in videogames, has launched the careers of both Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver…
And is this success deserved? Yes it is. The only criticism I have, but it’s nitpicking, is that right at the end of the film it’s noticeable how the alien is just a guy in an alien suit. But it’s OK. Alien is truly a masterpiece. Exactly like Aliens (1986) by James Cameron, for which I am planning to write another review (update: here it is)! Ciao!