Generic Values in Alien

Authors Avatar

Generic and narrative values in Alien.

In this essay I will discuss the generic and narrative values in Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, Alien. I will show how the film is typical of a horror / sci-fi hybrid and in some parts how it breaks the rules of these genres.

The scene I will discuss is the final sequenced from the film in which the main character, Ellen Ripley attempts to turn on the ships self destruct system and then escapes the ship using the escape pod. It starts after two members of the ships crew are killed by the alien leaving Ripley alone to escape the ship, the fact that there was a ‘last girl’ in this film is very typical of horror, although Ripley isn’t the virginal character that is usually left to fight the monster, that character died several minutes earlier, which is unconventional for horror. Isolation is something so typical of the horror genre; I honestly can’t name any horror that doesn’t isolate the characters in some way, shape or form. The filmmakers do this purely to add to the sense of hopelessness that the characters feel

She is running through the very darkened industrial corridors of the beaten up old ship, Scott probably uses this to show the ships inhumanity, its strange how very few science fiction films depict the future in a positive way. Low-key lighting is used through most of the film, this is very typical of horror, the pockets of light create a sense of fear and uncertainty throughout. The film wouldn’t have had the same effect if it stuck to the traditional high key science fiction style lighting popular at the time. Another thing that is typical of the horror genre is the fact that we are plagued with blind corners, we seem to think that the alien could be hiding around every corner which obviously creates a lot of fear for the audience.

Join now!

After running for what seemed to be an eternity she uses the ships self-destruct system, this is a slow complicated task that builds up so much tension for the audience. We see the expression of panic on her face and soon we feel the same way. Mother, the ships supercomputer then tells us that the ship will self destruct in T-minus ten minutes, the time limit adds to the tense atmosphere. Ripley then runs through even more industrial corridors, which again takes forever. She finally reaches the escape pod but before entering she backs onto the wall to see ...

This is a preview of the whole essay