Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Film Shorts: Alien (1979)

After Ridley Scott's widely anticipated, commonly disappointing Prometheus, it was interesting to go back to the original Alien, a film I remember being utterly terrified by when I first saw it.

The "Space Jockey" - and H R Giger's wondrous machine-organic phallic designs, get about ten minutes' airtime. They are not explanained. Giger's hot, steaming, streaming dirty evolution is echoed in the wet and grimy bronze interiors of the Nostromo. Once aboard the Space Ship, the film is an out-and-out thriller - there's a brief dalliance with Hal-style computer malevolence in the form of Ash, but otherwise the film has no intellectual pretensions. 

Would that were so for Prometheus, which instead makes the same mistake Matrix: Reloaded made after The Matrix: rather than simply hinting ambiguously at great profundity, letting an awestruck audience infer a grand metaphorical scheme - a magician's trick of misdirection - it tries to hit you between the eyes with it. To carry that off you do need real, well, profundity. 

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