Incidentally, speaking of Books & Culture articles about 30-plus-year-old franchises whose slide towards mediocrity was capped recently by a film that owed a little too much to Chariots of the Gods, I recently wrote another article for B&C — my first since stay-at-home daddyhood took over my life three years ago! — on Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s prequel to the Alien movies. Most of the article is behind a paywall right now, but if you don’t already subscribe to B&C, you can read the first three paragraphs (and half a sentence) here. And if you can read the article, and you’re curious about the bit where I talk about Alien’s expert use of close-ups, you can click here for a blog post of mine from a couple months ago, where I posted screen captures of those close-ups. Enjoy.
Like a lot of people, I made a point of watching Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) again before his prequel Prometheus came out last month. One thing that struck me on this viewing was how frequently Scott uses close-ups of non-human faces, indeed of mere things. I had certainly noticed individual shots on previous viewings, but it was only during my latest encounter with the film that all these images began to jostle together in my mind, and that I began to realize how Scott was using them to further one of the film’s key elements, which is the recurrent blurring of the lines between human, animal and machine.
Consider these images, captured from the film:
Homer Simpson once declared that alcohol was the source of, and the solution to, all his problems. 20th Century Fox might have something similar to say about diehard fans of the Alien and Predator franchises, who have waited 15 years to see these sci-fi beasts duke it out onscreen, ever since the two biggest space monsters of the Reagan era were first pitted against each other in a Dark Horse comic book. Frustrated by all the delays, hardcore Alien and Predator fans have stirred up some pretty bad buzz over Alien vs. Predator, yet they are also the most likely to brave the bad buzz and check the film out for themselves.