Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

July 07, 1979 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page 6-Saturday, July 7, 1979-The Michigan Daily

a rate
fice r
the f
its lit

ritics stalkchilling 'lien'
By CHRISTOPHER POTTER pain. It is the difference between se of menace is as jittery and tangible humans relentlessly one by one throu
ere's been an teresting dual relishing the horror of whatever violen- as a Chirico painting - omehing is the vast but imprisoning reaches of t
omenon taking place sin e the ce the proverbial two-headed goblin is about to happen, whether distant or space ship. It's the classic strugg
se of Alien, 20th Century Fox's wreaking and relishing the violence it- close at hand. man vs. inhuman, a claustrophobic w
far spectacularly successful at- self; it's siding with the torturer instead A computer suddenly bleeps into ac- paced with such delightfully fiendi
1 to duplicate its Star Wars pot of of the tortured. A depressing number of tion. The crew is wakened from its long- acumen that the film's climax alm
As moviegoers flock to the film at modern films have veered term slumber, prematurely, as it turns literally scared me out of my seat.
e that could knock off every box of- unashamedly in this dark direction - out - the Nostromo has completed only THOUGH CONCEPTUALLY it's le
ecord in existence, a comparably Alien, for all its truly blood-curdling half its journey. A mysterious radio than original, Alien remains a simf
proportion of film critics has, for horrifics, does not. signal is emanating from an unknown awesome, space-age production in
irst time perhaps, donned the AS SOME detractors have pointed planet below, and according to the respects. Director Scott and scree
usout, the film is essentially a futuristic ships company contract, the crew is writer Dan O'Bannon combine
c, and begun righteously rattling transposition of the Old Dark House required to check out any such com- austere but believable script with d
erary sab picture syndrome. Yet never has this time- munication. zling visual pyrotechnics to strike to t


tnat saeemsLu nave pierced hem at a
level far deeper than mere artistic
When one tries to dissect the extraor-
dinarily vituperative reaction to this
uncompromising, brilliant deep-space
horror movie, it becomes fairly easy to
distinguish analysis from polemic.
Time Magazine's Frank Rich has pen-
ned a slashing review debunking nearly
every element in Alien; he's mostly
wrong, but at least he plays it straight
- his objections remain firmly
aesthetic, not ethical.
ON THE OTHER hand, what are we
to make of the following, by New York
Magazine's David Denby: "Oc-
casionally one sees a film that uses the
emotional resources of movies with
such utter cynicism that one feels
sickened by the medium itself. Alien is
so effective it has practically turned me
off movies altogether." Or this, from
The Village Voice's Tom Allen: "Per-
sonally, I'd rather be strapped down in
a sense-deprivation chamber in
Uruguay than be exposed to Alien
again. Any critic who recommends this
one is saying, in effect, 'This way to the
black box, ladies and gentlemen'."
These writers' baleful message seems
clear: Alien is a film not so much bad as
it is tricked - a creative abomination
somehow equitable with germ warfare
or child molestation. Beware, they
shout, lest your lives be scarred
A heavy threat indeed, and as
presumptuous as it is exorbitant. Ap-
plying the concept of evil to art is
unavoidably, dangerously subjective -
one man's masterwork is another'
man's filth. For me there isn't a
moment in Alien remotely as offensive
as the sadistic hijinks of the ostensibly
merry crew of Altman's M*A*S*H, no
violent act comparable to the mindless,
lusting savagery of Bruce Lee's Enter
The Dragon, in which ritual brutality is
shown as the physical / emotional /
spiritual equivalent of orgasm.
What strikes me as true cinematic
cynicism is the sanctified triumph of
the bully, the authorized deification of

CREW MEMBERS Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) left, and Kane (John Hurt), join Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), center,
in searching out the spooky depths of the alien ship in "Alien," now at the State Theatre.

honored plot been adapted with such
tight, spine-tingling proficiency. Alien's
story is simple, but lavishly em-
bellished: Some time in the 28th Cen-
tury, a cargo ship called the Nostromo
is returning to Earth carrying millions
of tons of ore mined in deep space.
Director Ridley Scott immediately sets
the film's lyrically sinister tone: With
the Nostromo's crew in suspended
animation sleep until journey's end,
Scott's camera prowls stealthily, relen-
tlessly down the lengthy, silent
corridors of the ship. The palpable sen-

Once landed, the protagonists en-
counter a gigantic, wrecked space
vehicle which appears to be the
repository for a kind of extraterrestrial
growth chamber. Through a series of
grisly shocks, including the most
bizarre birth sequence in the history of
film, the Nostromo finds itself the un-
willing host to a monster - an alien
creature whose "physical perfection is
matched only by its malevolence," in
the words of the ship's creepy science
The battle lines are swiftly drawn,
and Alien surges into a desperate,
white-heat of battle of wits between the
dwindling crew and the seemingly in-
destructible behemoth that stalks the

heart of nightmare like no other film I
can remember. The graphic distancing
of space, the terrifying aloneness of the
cosmos rivals that of 2001; we're
presented six human beings pitted
against a demon, with no one, ab-
solutely no on, around to lend a last-
minute rescue.
There isn't an ounce of expository fat
to be found in Alien. O'Bannon spares
us any Poseidon Adventure-style sub-
plots, yet his protagonists are splen-
didly believable. Contrasting the zom-
bie uniformity of 50s sci-fi crews, the
Nostromo's entourage bitches over
lousy food, unfair wages, each other's
incompetence - indeed as their plight
See FRIGHT, Page 7

Lindsey Anderson, 1973
MALCOLM MacDOWELL helped originate and stars in this picaresque
tale of an ambitious young coffee salesman in contemporary England
whose life turns into a movie before your very eyes. Reminiscent in
many ways of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, but lots more irreverent
and fun. Excellent music by Alan Price and his band, who somewhere
along the line manage to become active characters in the story. (165 min).
7;00 & 10:00 Aud A Angell Hall $1.50

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan