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Old August 3rd, 2008, 12:04 AM   #1
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Alien - nearly 30 years on

I just watched Alien (again) and I'm blown away by how good it is, and I don't mean was - it IS a great movie.

It doesn't seem to have dated at all, I am just as engaged as I originally was (maybe not as scared). It's been that long I only vaguely remember the story and it was worth watching.

What is it that makes a film 'timeless' ? what special thing lifts it from the mass of mediocre pap that the studios pump out ? What must it feel like to have contributed to a film that great ?
Cheers - Paul M. :
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 04:03 AM   #2
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Yes, I've seen Alien again in a special event, where they showed it in a big theatre again. Unfortunately it was a very old dated copy, but if you watch the movie on dvd with remastered image and sound, the movie hasn't dated one bit. It's still as interesting, captivating, and exiting as I suppose it was when it came out (I wasn't born yet).

I don't know what makes a movie timeless...
Jaws, Alien, A Clockwork Orange, Pulp Fiction, Back to the Future, E.T., ... I can of course go on and on, but with all of these movies, when you see them you really just 'feel' that you are looking at something brilliant, sometimes genius, something that will live on forever.
And you ask your self: how did they do it?

Do filmmakers really know it if they are busy what a masterpiece? I personally think not. If you look at most of these production stories (especially Jaws and Alien), they are horror stories, with people that were glad they just could finish the movie, and already thinking they made the worst movie out there (for example Francis Ford Coppola in Heart of Darkness, when he was shooting Apocalypse Now). But trough a combination of talents, sometimes BECAUSE of these horrifying production histories, ... a movie becomes a masterpiece. I don't think that it's something filmmakers intend to do. Everyone always wants to make the best movie (or painting or novel or...) that he can, but I think everyone always HOPES and WANTS to make a masterpiece, but I think that no one really knows when he makes one, that it IS a masterpiece. It's just something that happens.
Magic, Movie Magic ;-)
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Old August 11th, 2008, 12:17 AM   #3
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I think the elements that make Alien timeless to a great extent is the dialog and subsequent acting. Most of the characters behaved in ways expected of them in those circumstances. When they were awoken early, they complained about the extra hours of work. Writers and directors often forget about the little things and it makes their movies have less impact because the movie world they create doesn't seem real. In Alien, even the computers still seem to be appropriate because they were simple. They were machines designed to run the navigation of a ship and perform communication. They still seem like machines built to run a space ship even though the evolution of computers has been very different from those shown in the movie.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 03:06 PM   #4
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The setting was very industrial, utility-oriented with no real style that would indicate they were trying to predict the future(like Star Trek--which does look dated in all its forms).

I think Ridley Scott's style of directing and the use of music was very minimalistic, arty, classical. Simple. The story and characters were simple.

Although the main factor IS the HR Giger alien design/art direction. They knew it was revolutionary back then.

He hits a nerve--the face hugger, chestburster, the alien--I dont think anything since then has even come close. The Predator design is interesting but not nearly as foreign-looking.

They didnt need to use a lot of scary music, or anything gimmicky because it was just freaky looking. Even the fact they gave it a very screechy voice was against tradition. Not a roar. It didnt have to!

Without Giger, Alien, er I mean A L I E N, would probably be forgotten.

I actually prefer the original concept of having the victim turn into another egg, which you see in the deleted footage. The Alien Queen was ok but Cameron made them more like an ant colony. Not quite as alien as what they originally intended.

Oh and I read an interview with Harry Dean Stanton once and he said that Scott was so prepared as a director he had pages of detailed character biographies for each part, despite none of it being mentioned on screen.
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Old August 15th, 2008, 05:30 PM   #5
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Most films are dated

I thought the point Paul made was how "NOT-dated" Alien looked - ie it doesnt look like it was made in late 70s, when fashion was a little repulsive by todays standards :-) , and compared to other movies that came out then.

Jaws, Clockwork Orange, ET, Back to the Future are "DATED" - dont get me wrong, I like these movies, but its very easy to tell what era they were from their stylisation, script and clothes

However Aliens by Cameron definitely looks like a Reagan-era movie and for me is nowhere near as gripping as Alien....

....just my 2 penneth :-)
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Old August 15th, 2008, 07:42 PM   #6
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I wasnt sure if he meant timeless as in it didnt look dated, or timeless as in the story/filmmaking was timeless. is there a difference between a classic and timeless, I wonder?

The 1968 Planet of the Apes is another movie which i dont think has dated much(poked fun at-but in terms of the idea, costume and even the make up, its held up well). The music is also unusual for the period, neither pop soundtrack nor traditional orchestra(and Goldsmith worked on Alien too. What a pro). The setting obviously helps a lot. Great script co-written by Rod Serling(what a pro too). My favorite Heston part.
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