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June 07, 2012

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Josh Z

@Don, as LondonLee posted above, even if Ridley Scott didn't fully intend all the sexual imagery in Alien, H.R. Giger certainly did. I'd have to imagine that Scott was aware of what Giger was doing and agreed to go along with it, even if it wasn't his idea first.

Considering that Scott's new prequel features a scene where a not-subtle-at-all albino penis hisses at two of the characters, I'd say that he's fully on board with the sexual imagery in the series now.

Shane

@Josh - I had to laugh at that scene (stupid character actions aside) when the Rafe Spall character says 'clearly it's a girl' ...?...I looks like a big penis!

jim emerson

Love this, Glenn. You inspired me to add something about it to my own post, since my first encounter with "Alien" was memorable in a totally different way... (P.S. I'm usually well-behaved once the lights go down, but I'm horrified to think of the pompous windbaggery I released into the air before the movie started and after it was over, just for the sake of making conversation...)

jim emerson

Just read some of the other comments and would like to chime in:

Shane: "You just make the movie, I'll tell you what it's about." True! Any filmmaker can tell you that's true of all audiences, not just critics. Once the movie is released, it no longer belongs to its makers. Whatever's there on the screen for people to react to and interpret is fair game. Who can say what everyone's intentions were? (The more instinctual filmmakers, like maybe David Lynch or Terrence Malick, might admit they aren't sure themselves; they do what feels right to them without overanalyzing it before they do it.)

Speaking of that: Your story, David, reminds me of the response to Cronenberg's "The Fly" in 1986. Most of the people I knew who died of AIDS did so in the mid- to late-80s. It was so much on people's minds that many saw "The Fly" as a metaphor for AIDS. Cronenberg later said he didn't think of it that way (he'd just been thinking of an accelerated version of natural aging, the invariable "betrayal" of the body that everyone goes through as they age, not an immunodeficiency virus). But, he acknowledged, the metaphor works.

Don R. Lewis: I can't speak for Ridley Scott, but the sexual metaphors are so organic in "Alien" (in the story, the design, the effects, the way it's shot) that if Scott wasn't aware of them consciously, he was sure working with them subconsciously. (Remember, too, that in 1979, we didn't KNOW that the aliens impregnated humans and used them as cocoons -- that was in the script, but not in the released version of the movie.) Years after "Alien," Dan O'Bannon said: "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." So, what "Alien" does with that is open to interpretation... but there you are.

Tom: re "beginning of fanboy profundity": Thank you for this: "If that crap could've been toned down in the '80s and '90s, maybe we wouldn't be mistaking The Dark Knight for the return of Wittgenstein today."

And Jaime: Those "first three" are the ones, all right. I've always felt that "Blade Runner" was less than meets the eye (as some auteurist critic once said...), but it improved quite a bit when they jettisoned that horrible narration that Harrison Ford said he delivered under duress. For me, everything since has been a letdown, as you say. Sometimes you can just feel the movies falling apart before your eyes -- just when they should be coalescing and gathering momentum...

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