Alien: Review: Alien (BFI Film Classics)

alien_webBy Roger Luckhurst

Palgrave Macmillan, out now

A re-examination of the 35 year old classic horror SF movie…

Roger Luckhurst’s discussion of Ridley Scott’s movie follows the standard pattern of such books, using the plotline of the film as a springboard for an examination of various themes. It’s clear that the movie has had an influence on him over the years, and his attitude to the various sequels, prequels and assorted spin-offs is sometimes summarily brusque (he really doesn’t have much time for Prometheus, it’s safe to say) – to the extent that the personal essay at the end of the book puts so much of the rest of the volume in context that I wish I had read it first.

Having been rather steeped in Alien lore in the past few months, with the various fictional additions to the universe and the lavish hardback about the making of the films, I was pleased to find that this didn’t try to be an exhaustive account of the creation of the film, but that it looks at the various theories which have sprung up around it. I’m not convinced by discussion of the Winter of Discontent in Britain at the time of filming, nor by all of the psychoanalysis of its content – Luckhurst himself hedges his bets in places (“I might have pursued these lines far too earnestly,” he admits at one point), and it’s hard at the end to pinpoint which of the theories he does ascribe to himself. He chooses appropriate moments to raise the points, leaving perhaps the most controversial (is this a film about Jonesy!) to the closing pages.

Verdict: A good catalogue and discussion of the various theories that have sprung up around Scott’s film. 7/10

Paul Simpson

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