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THE BIGGER PICTURE: ALIEN

RIDLEY SCOTT

Our monthly programme strand in which a key film is presented in the context of a notional film canon.

This month Dr. Harvey O’Brien will consider Alien, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic. Having spawned a number of sequels and spin-offs, it’s hard to recall the shockwaves that went through cinemas when this ‘space opera’ first appeared. Sigourney Weaver’s action hero Ellen Ripley remains a marker for all subsequent female action/adventure leads. Scott’s achievement is to allow tension to build up slowly, involving the audience in the sense of mission, and letting the production design and sound excel to realise some genuinely shocking moments.

In space no-one will hear you scream? They will in the cinema.

117 mins, U.S.A.-U.K., 1979

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