The crew of the Nostromo; Dallas, Ripley, Ash, Parker, Lambert, Brett, Kane overseen by an infanticidal Mother and observed by the innocent Jones. This, Ridley Scott directed, milestone is an independent movie disguised as a box office behemoth, an ensemble character study wrapped up as a Sci-Fi suspense/horror movie. It's Hitchcock and Bergman in space.
With the release today of Prometheus it is worth recalling just how seminal Alien (1979) was.
The most overlooked element of a movie that has exemplary effects and production design, score (excellent work from Jerry Goldsmith) and direction is the casting. John Hurt and Ian Holm represent the British thespian, Harry Dean Stanton the independent movie stalwart. Yaphet Kotto a great character actor, as is Tom Skeritt. Veronica Cartwright represents mounting hysteria perfectly and Sigourney Weaver, in her breakout performance,arrived as a movie star.
The movie is often lumped in with other generic Science Fiction (a misguidedly derided genre) but is a great movie regardless of its milieu.It's a film of great and memorable sequences that are parts of a cohesive whole; so many of them embedded in the cinematic consciousness .It's a film of great tension, genuine suspense and fear; genuine fear.
For those seeking hidden meaning there is plenty; Child birth, rape, exploitation, corporate greed, technology gone awry and betrayal. There is plenty of sexual symbolism, in part due to HR Gieger's amazing conceptual work. I would argue that the xenomorph in Alien is the single best depiction of an alien in movie history (yes even better than R-Man in Robot Monster)
I'm sure that many will revisit this movie in light of Prometheus. I have just done so and I was not disappointed. It's a masterpiece. It is surprising how 'real' it feels. It's a movie that will never get the proper acknowledgement because of its genre but it is a masterpiece never the less.
“We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space” - Parker