Why I love Ellen Ripley – Part 1
February 19, 2012
In the words of those brilliant and eloquent men of Monty Python…. And now for something completely different
I decided to (re) watch the Alien quadrilogy. Partially because there is a new movie conceived as a prequel coming out this year called Prometheus (which means New Zealand might get to watch it legally before the end of the decade some time.)
Partially because Aliens was one of my favourite movies when I was a teen. It was so scary I had to watch it during the daytime on my old VCR, remember those? But after I watched it, I felt like I conquered the film. Like I had conquered my fear.
The man who created the art of the films, H. R. Giger, is Swiss. Another connection to me there.
They are classic movies and Ripley is arguably one of the first strong female protagonists.
So what the hey, I’ll sit down and watch them all. I’ve never seen Alien from start to finish, so it will be new to me. Then as Alien started and I started commenting to Steve on what I was seeing, I thought, well, this could be a fun blog. So here it is…. a running commentary on Alien.
*warning. This is one big spoiler.
(This movie would have been infinitely more scary if I didn’t know the main story line. I am a complete and utter jumper. Jump right out of my seat I do)
Starts out in gloomy space. Big empty sounds
People are woken after they receive a transmission. The computer is very old-school. Green text on a black screen. Sounds like a typewriter. I’m immediately amused that they are smoking inside their spaceship. They have a token black guy, but two women on crew. Ripley and Lambert (I think she was the crazy lady in Witches of Eastwick who threw up the cherry stones. Note to self to check IMDB later)
They go to check out the transmission after some arguing. Suspense builds…. They land on the planet and cause some damage to their ship, so they’re stranded for a while. More cigarette smoking while they analyse the poisonous atmosphere. (unintentional irony?)
The mechanics moan, Ripley tells them to fuck off. Wanna know more about Ripley? Ellen, to her friends. She is undoubtedly one of the best female characters ever, THE best female science fiction/horror movie character and ranked as the 8th greatest hero in cinema history. In short? She kicks ass.
They find an alien ship and three of them start exploring. The music changes slightly, includes a bit of a tune… Still super creepy. They enter the ship. (In a modern day movie, I’m sure they would have scanned it first or something, you know to check for life.) Ripley figures out that it probably wasn’t a transmission, more likely a warning. Ash tells her to ignore it. They find eggs, covered in mist. One guy touches the mist, he slips, he lands near an egg… it opens… he looks in and even though I know what’s coming I jump when it jumps out at him and sucks on to his face.
They bring him back to the ship but Ripley defies a direct order and doesn’t let them it. You know quarantine and stuff. (Have I mentioned how smart she is?) One of the other crew members (Ash) let’s them in. They try to remove the creature from the crew member but it cuts off the life systems of the man, oh and it bleeds acid. They decide to do nothing.
Ripley confronts Ash, calmly, about the fact that he let the facesucker on board. I am charmed by her confidence and the little flip-top rubbish bin on this high-tech ship. Later they realise the Facesucker has detached. No music, you can hear their steps and breath as they check out the room. Of course if falls out on to Ripley (Jump no.2) but it’s dead. Ripley wants to get rid of it. (Good instincts that one.) The Capt’n defaults to Ash (played by none other than a young Bilbo Baggins). Ripley again, calmly confronts the Capt’n. They leave the planet. (Seems the mechanics were pretty handy after all.)
Kane (guy who had facesucker) wakes up, he’s hungry, so of course they all sit down and eat. You can hear a heart-beat. He starts coughing. Writhing. Convulsing. Blood spurts from his chest and a wee shrimp of an Alien with razor teeth bursts from his chest, squeals at them and races from the room. (This scene from Spaceballs is the best spoof of this scene EVER) The crew is dumbfounded. They eject Kane’s body. Finally a sensible act.
They regroup and start a search for the little shrimp-Alien. Ripley and the mechanics track movement, they isolate it to a small cabinet and carefully set a trap. The pet cat jumps out. Jump No. 3. While trying to retrieve the cat, they split up. You can hear a heart beat. I realise that they don’t have any kind of portable coms. (In Farscape they just yell at each other from all over the ship). You hear a creaking sound while the dude inexplicably has a little shower in water dripping off the machinery (eww). I want to yell at the dude, why did you wander so far on your own!! You see a tail unfurl, the cat hisses, you get a great close-up of the famous double-jaws dripping saliva and he gets snatched.
They regroup and agree to create a fire to flush it out of the air ducts. Dallas the brave captain crawls down the ducts to flush it out. The other female (Lambert) uses a movement sensor akin to pong, tracking it. It get’s closer, she gets hysterical. Dallas get’s snatched. Jump No. 4. That was a good one. Rapid fire movements, he looks left, all clear, he looks right, all clear. He goes left. ALIEN JUMPS OUT!
They regroup. Ripley sticks to the plan and takes charge. She yells at Ash and access the computer. She discovers that the Company rerouted their ship to intercept the Alien. ‘Crew expendable’ says the computer. Ash attacks her. Turns out he is.. dun dun da… a cyborg! He short-circuits and has a rather hilarious fit squirting white milky fluid, tittering. They accidentally knock his head off. Then they hotwire him so they can talk to him. Then they put the flamethrower on him. They never liked him much anyway.
Ripley says they’ll blow up the ship. They get ready and of course, they decide they can’t leave the cat behind. Ripley goes after him, the Alien corners Lambert, Parker tries to help. More close up of the teeth. They both get munched.
Ripley sets the emergency-destruct system and get’s into the shuttle (with cat). That’s when she spots the Alien! In the shuttle! Dammit. Now what?? She runs back to the emergency-destruction system. As she does that it counts down to the last second you can over-ride it. She frantically tries to override, but is too late. 5 minutes left. She swears at the computer. Runs back to the shuttle, with her flame thrower this time. (I love this woman.)
Alien is nowhere to be seen. She launches. Big ship blows. She collapses in relief. ‘I got you, son-of-a-bitch’. She says and closes her eyes. She cuddles the cat and puts him in a sleep chamber. Ripley takes off her uniform getting ready to put herself to sleep and she is in her nickers when a large piece of chrome in unfurls (Jump No. 5) and she is inches away from the Alien. She retreats into a cupboard, grabs a spacesuit and puts it on. The Alien yawns (gratuitous double-jaw shot). She belts herself into a seat and flushes it out of hiding with steam. Alien screams and approaches her…. She turns her back, hyperventilating. At the last possible moment, she opens the door. Alien gets sucked out! But grabs the door! She shoots it with a grappling gun! It flies out! But as the door closes, the gun get’s stuck! The Alien is tethered and she blasts it with the engines. Finally.. it’s gone for good.
I feel like applauding.
Stay tuned for more Alien movies commentary. )
Update: I’m adding this link because it’s chock full of interesting information about Sigourney Weaver and the Aliens film. She apparently only made about $300,000 from this film (after tax). She had to argue for pay increases for each subsequent film.
The reason why the 3 film has no films is because she demanded it be so. She is very anti-gun.
The only reason why the second film has so much weaponry in it is because she wasn’t confirmed as the lead until the film was underway.