- "This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off."
- ― Ellen Ripley
Alien is a science fiction horror film from 1979, directed by Ridley Scott. It has remained highly praised in subsequent decades and was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2002 for historical preservation, being noted as a film, which is culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.
In the year 2122 the commercial towing spaceship Nostromo is returning to Earth from a mission on Thedus. It is carrying 20 million tons of mineral ore for the company Weyland Yutani and the crew is in stasis. After receiving an unknown transmission from a nearby planet, the ship's computer wakes the seven-man crew. After the crew recovers from stasis, the Nostromo detaches itself from the refinery and lands on the planet. Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane and Navigator Lambert leave the ship to try and determine the source of the transmission, while Warrant Officer Ripley, Science Officer Ash, and Engineers Brett and Parker stay on the ship to monitor progress and make repairs.
Dallas, Kane, and Lambert discover, that the signal is coming from an abandoned alien spaceship. Inside they find the remains of a large alien creature with its rib cage forced out from the inside. Back at the ship, the computer is finally able to translate some of the unknown transmission, which Ripley determines to be a warning or a threat. Kane finds a chamber filled with eggs. Upon closer inspection of one, it opens up and a creature attaches itself to Kane's face, compromising his oxygen mask. Dallas and Lambert carry him back to the ship, where Ash lets them inside against the orders of Ripley, who believed, they should follow quarantine protocols, which causes Ripley to become suspicious about Ash, since he, as the science officer, should have known better.
Once they have Kane in the infirmary, they attempt to surgically remove the creature from his face. Unfortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful due to the fact that the creature's blood is made of some kind of corrosive acid. Later the crew finds out, that the creature has detached itself from Kane's face and died, leaving Kane awake and alert. With everything seemingly back to normal, the crew resumes its mission back to Earth.
Before reentering stasis, the crew sits down for one final meal. At one point, Kane starts to choke and convulse, until all of the sudden a creature bursts from his chest and runs away. Horrified, the crew attempts to create weapons, including electric prods, and motion trackers, and try to track the creature down. After a first failed attempt at killing the creature, the crew decides to abandon the refinery, and take the shuttle back to Earth. While everyone else is gathering supplies and tools, Brett tries to track down the ship´s cat. The creature then appears suddenly, now grown up and takes him away through the air conducts.
Having witnessed the event and realising how dangerous the creature has become, the crew arms themselves with self-made flame throwers and try to throw the Xenomorph into space. The attempt fails and the captain is taken away by the creature, too. Ripley then takes command. Noticing, that Ash is behaving suspiciously all the time and that he is not doing anything productive against the creature, she begins to monitor Mother and discovers Ash´s hidden agenda with the company. They knew about the alien signal all along, had decoded it, knew also about the creature all along and through Ash they want to take the creature alive for their own profit. She also realises, that they have been using through Ash the ship and its crew to test and analyse it. Ash discovers Ripley´s discovery and tries to kill her, because she had become a threat to the company´s purposes. The others prevent him from doing so. They take him out and discover, he is a robot, an ideal person for such a conspiracy. They awaken him and discover, the company were satisfied with the expectations regarding the creature and gave Ash the order to bring it back to Earth and sacrifice the rest of the crew on the way. They also realise through Ash´s analysis, that the creature is too strong for them to being able to defeat it and decide to destroy the ship with the alien inside after turning Ash off.
The last two crewmen, who were still alive with Ripley, are later killed by the alien, while they were making the corresponding preparations, leaving Ripley completely alone with the alien on the ship. She still manages to activate the self-destruct sequence, get her cat and go to the shuttlecraft and lifeboat Narcissus in time. The alien, however, foresaw the event and hid in the ship, but was in a bad shape because of the vibration of the self-destrucion of the Nostromo. Ripley discovers it in time and, in the nick of time, launches it in space killing it.
After the victory she sends a message through space about what happened and sends the ship to the best possible course in space in the hopes of being salvaged. She then takes her cat and goes to the cryo chamber to sleep in the hopes of being woken up by one of the space ships she hopes to encounter.
Impact and Analysis
Critics have also analyzed Alien's sexual overtones. Adrian Mackinder compares the facehugger's attack on Kane to a male rape and the chestburster scene to a form of birth, noting that the Alien's phallic head and method of killing the crew members add to the sexual imagery. Dan O'Bannon has argued that the scene is a metaphor for the male fear of penetration, and that the "oral invasion" of Kane by the facehugger functions as "payback" for the many horror films in which sexually vulnerable women are attacked by male monsters. On one level it's about an intriguing alien threat. On one level it's about parasitism and disease. And on the level that was most important to the writers and director, it's about sex, and reproduction by non-consensual means. And it's about this happening to a man." He notes how the film plays on men's fear and misunderstanding of pregnancy and childbirth, while also giving women a glimpse into these fears. O'Bannon himself later described the sexual imagery in Alien as intentional: "One thing that people are all disturbed about is sex... I said 'That's how I'm going to attack the audience; I'm going to attack them sexually. And I'm not going to go after the women in the audience, I'm going to attack the men. I am going to put in every image I can think of to make the men in the audience cross their legs. Homosexual oral rape, birth. The thing lays its eggs down your throat, the whole number.
- One of the original scripts of Alien eventually turned into the movie Species.
- Another early script for this movie was used as a basis for its prequel Prometheus.
- A director´s cut was released in 2003 which is one minute shorter. Its creation was overseen by Ridley Scott himself. In this version, Dallas and Kane´s destinies are revealed.