Sog.: Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett. Scen.: Dan O’Bannon. F.: Derek Vanlint. M.: Terry Rawlings, Peter Weatherley. Scgf.: Michael Seymour, Les Dilley, Roger Christian. Mus.: Jerry Goldsmith. Int.: Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), Tom Skerritt (Dallas), Veronica Cartwright (Lambert), Harry Dean Stanton (Brett), John Hurt (Kane), Ian Holm (Ash), Yaphet Kotto (Parker), Bolaji Badejo (Alien), Helen Horton (voce di ‘Mother’). Prod.: Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill per Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.. DCP. D.: 116’. Col.
Because the franchise is so well known, it is easy to forget that Alien is largely a simmering drama about the protocols, social dynamics, and forms of alienation in an impersonal workplace. Today when many forms of employment increasingly require a nonstop cheery affect at work and on social media, the characters’ indifference might even stir nostalgic feelings for a cold, effective professionalism that had seemed dystopian in 1979. Likewise, the film might also elicit admiration for the way Sigourney Weaver would build, partly out of this role, a new kind of professional star persona appropriate to the coming decade. In any case, Alien works as a successful sci-fi horror film because it dwells in the stressors of the working environment. It orients its horror through the claustrophobic spaces and spartan technological interfaces designed for workers, not consumers.
The film’s theme, the commercial exploitation of biology by the military-industrial complex, offers a perfect frame for the designs of H.R. Giger. Employing an aesthetic he termed “biomechanical”, Giger was interested in the integration the machine and organic life (although he was really more interested in anatomy than biology). But beyond this heady and influential collaboration between Scott and Giger, seeing the film again reveals the attention to craft in its Kubrick-influenced pacing, in its sound design, and in the resourceful economy of its production. Weaver’s performance in the film and its sequels (a character she affectionately called ‘Rambolina’) has become iconic, but just as interesting are overlooked performances like Tom Skerrit’s portrayal of Captain Dallas as relaxed and accepting – a role that another actor might have approached, more predictably, with militaristic aggressiveness.