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32 Things We Learned From the ‘Alien’ Commentary

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By  · Published on June 7th, 2012

Prometheus is Ridley Scott’s latest magnum opus, a groundbreaking cinematic achievement beyond our wildest imaginations. At least that’s what we’re all hoping for with the film. At the very least we’ll take a return to the sci-fi terror Scott unleashed on audiences earlier in his career, but Prometheus is a film moviegoers all over will be talking about. We’d love to hear Scott talk about it, probably along with screenwriter Damen Lindelof. We’ll take Jon Spaihts just because he comes with the package deal, but it’ll be a commentary that delves into the depths each man had to go to craft yet another legendary, sci-fi tale. That will be amazing.

Anyway, here’s the commentary for Alien.

Seriously, though. How can you introduce Alien?

Alien (2003 Director’s Cut, originally released in 1979)

commentators: Ridley Scott (director), Sigourney Weaver (actress), Ronald Shusett (executive producer/story by), John Hurt (actor), Dan O’Bannon (writer), Veronica Cartwright (actress), Tom Skerritt (actor), Harry Dean Stanton (actor), Terry Rawlings (editor)

Best in Commentary

“It’s Ten Little Indians in The Old Dark House.” – Ridley Scott

“When it comes to texturing a scene, texture, mood, subtlety of mood and feeling and atmosphere, he really is superb. Without it, it would have been a much lesser picture.” – O’Bannon about Scott’s direction

“There’s the value of novelty. If it’s new and you haven’t seen it before, it has impact.” – O’Bannon

“I was thinking about pussy the whole time.” – Harry Dean Stanton, and this goes without explanation. It’s best left ambiguous.

Final Thoughts

The Alien commentary, though loaded with bits of good information, actually suffers from having too many people contributing, especially when Scott and either O’Bannon or Weaver or all three of them would have been more than enough. The way it is, we don’t hear what Scott has to say from some key moments. We hear from Skerritt, Cartwright, and Stanton during the Chestburster scene, not even anything from Hurt, who is the focus of that scene.

Still, when Scott goes into the detail of every aspect of this film, whether it be the look of the ship or the look of the creatures or the way things move or how the ship sounds, you realize how determined he was to craft something novel as well as durable. But it’s not just insight into Alien we get from the director. There’s a long period where he discusses the horror movies of the ’70s and even giving good lip service to The Exorcist.

Though not everyone on this commentary has much to contribute – Hurt isn’t heard through the last 90 minutes of the film – and it would have added much overall if some of them had been cut, there is plenty to enjoy in this commentary. Scott is a very focused director who knows what he wants and won’t stop until he gets it. The passion he brought to Alien shines through in the way he talks about it.

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