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Alien (25-May-1979)

Director: Ridley Scott

Writers: Dan O'Bannon; Ronald Shusett

Music by: Jerry Goldsmith

Producers: Gordonn Carroll; David Giler; Walter Hill

Keywords: Sci-Fi/Horror, Robots, Explosions

Crew of the interstellar mining spacecraft Nostromo responds to an S.O.S. signal, only to encounter an alien life form which picks them off one by one. Slow moving and ominous. Set designs inspired by the otherworldly art of H. R. Giger. "In space, no one can hear you scream." Won Oscar for Best Visual Effects; nominated for Best Set Decoration.

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Veronica Cartwright
20-Apr-1950   Alien
Ian Holm
12-Sep-1931   Time Bandits
John Hurt
22-Jan-1940 27-Jan-2017 Alien
Yaphet Kotto
15-Nov-1937   Homicide
Tom Skerritt
25-Aug-1933   Viper in Top Gun
Harry Dean Stanton
14-Jul-1926 15-Sep-2017 Bathrobe-clad actor from Repo Man
Sigourney Weaver
8-Oct-1949   Alien


Tom Skerritt   ...   Dallas
Sigourney Weaver   ...   Ripley
Veronica Cartwright   ...   Lambert
Harry Dean Stanton   ...   Brett
John Hurt   ...   Kane
Ian Holm   ...   Ash
Yaphet Kotto   ...   Parker
Bolaji Badejo   ...   Alien
Helen Horton   ...   Voice of Mother


Review by Walter Frith (posted on 7-Jun-2007)

'In space no one can hear you scream'. This is my favourite tagline for a movie. It probably always will be throughout the remainder of my life. Millions of miles away from home. No one to help you. No 911 calls to be made. No one can hear your cries for help. Such is the physical and psychological state of the legendary and landmark film 'Alien' from director Ridley Scott. This is and probably will be the best film in his long line of successful achievements put on celluloid. Scott's long tracking shots that dangle the audience's anticipation of what's coming next is matched only by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock and if Hitch himself had made this film, he couldn't have done much better. In fact, next to Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' from 1968, this is the best directed science fiction film of all time. Brimming with gothic images that tap into the audience's fascination with violence, the unknown, and ultimately, what's possible. And in the wonderful world of movies, the sky's the limit as the imagination can take us anywhere. Is this obvious? Too true. But films like this go beyond the definition of the understated and live up to the highest expectations. Seven crew members. Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), Kane (John Hurt), Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and the very mysterious Ash (Ian Holm). Each one capable in their jobs aboard the ship and each one just as vulnerable as the other in their encounter with the unknown. And isn't that just what makes films like this so great? The very thought of seeing something for the first time. Not seen before this and not seen since outside the realm of this storyline that would spawn three sequels so far with a possible fifth film to be made sometime in the future that has the alien creatures roaming the Earth is some capacity. Each actor in the film never really found super stardom. Not even Weaver who would go on as the protagonist in the other films. The 'Alien' series are her only great films and while she received an Oscar nomination for best actress for 'Aliens', her other two Oscar nominations, both in 1988, as best supporting actress for 'Working Girl' and best actress for 'Gorillas in the Mist', never really had her in contention with the other people with whom she was nominated. Some actors prefer never to reach the pinnacle of the movie industry, content with being successful character actors, their respectability with film buffs is re-enforced by the intelligence of the roles that they choose and each one of the people in this film has accomplished this. The Nostromo is an industrial ship maintained by the seven person crew that is on its way back to Earth carrying a cargo of mineral ore and it appears to be orbiting Saturn as its next mission is about to take place. Judging by the rings around the planet they are passing by, this seems to be a logical conclusion. The Nostromo's main computer, called 'Mother', informs them that a transmission has been made and according to a clause in their contracts that sent them on the mission, they must investigate any transmissions of distress or they will not be paid for their labour for the entire trip. As they touch down on what appears to be one of the moons of Saturn, Dallas, Lambert and Kane explore the surface and come across a phenomenon of alien life that incapacitates Kane for a trip back to the shuttle where he requires emergency medical attention. From this point on, without spoilers, the crew is on a trajectory with their mortality and their very existence. Ridley Scott does a very capable job of showing us just enough of the alien to tease our desire for more while defining the thought that sometimes less IS more. Steven Spielberg once stated that when he made 'Jaws', he didn't intend to show you little glimpses of the shark until the climax but because they had so much trouble trying to get the shark to work, it just worked out that way. Ridley Scott was looking for a breakthrough film after efforts such as 'The Duellists' in 1977 and work in short films and television. He found his masterpiece in this film written by Dan O'Bannon and produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler and Walter Hill. 'Alien' is part thriller and part science fiction but it works best as a horror film as fear is the best character in the film. The first time I saw the film, I was 14, and it got me turned on to the possibilities of what the science fiction genre could be after I had seen 'Star Wars', made two years earlier, over 50 times. When 'Alien' was released in 1979, it caused almost as much talk as 'Star Wars' did when released two years earlier. 'Alien' had a horror characteristic to it which was psychological, visually striking and compelling with the type of strength in silence not seen since '2001: A Space Odyssey' in 1968. For all that has been said and written about this film, for me the true hero of this film is conceptual designer H.R. Giger who designed the sketches that would become both the planetary sets and the design of the alien itself. Detail being the main key, Giger's gothic imagination resonates with the most discriminating of movie audiences. Through it all, the very concept of something never seen before and having it work miraculously, is a testament to why Giger won an Oscar for the film's visual effects along with Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder and Denys Ayling. I've always said that with technology advances in motion pictures in the last fifteen years or so, beginning with 'Jurassic Park', the computerized special effect can sometimes look phony with sloppy crop markings and one dimensional tackiness. Matte shots, model designs and tangible designs made from good old fashioned elbow grease will always be the best thing that Hollywood has ever designed for the viewing pleasure of audiences. Period. [Visit FILM FOLLOW-UP by Walter Frith]

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