Running Time: 115 mins
As the spaceship Nostromo makes its way back to earth, it investigates a distress signal from a nearby planet. There, Kane (Hurt) is attacked by an Alien life form which attaches itself to his space suit. On bringing Kane back to the ship, the Alien creature enters Nostromo and begins a reign of terror. Ellen Ripley (Weaver) is the last officer able to make a stand against the invading organism.
It's hard to believe it was 24 years ago that Alien invaded our screens. Since that time this film has gone on to be considered a classic in the science fantasy genre. It deserves that title not only because of some of the technical breakthroughs that were masterfully realised by the production team, but also because it is an exemplar of the best of its style. Alien is a benchmark film.
Director Ridley Scott has tidied up some of the earlier sequences, though the first half hour remains slow. But once the action kicks in, Alien is as absorbing and tense as it was in its first season. Scott has restored three scenes, two of which are incidental, but the one where Ridley sees three of her colleagues in the grip of the Alien adds pathos to the final act of the film.
Alien will always be a genuinely scary film, and its monster will always be one of the best created in the cinema.
This film and its monster has also generated an enormous amount of academic literature, with Australia's own Professor Barbara Creed of the University of Melbourne leading the charge. It was Creed who outlined how the alien of the title was in fact a monstrous womb with deep roots in mythological texts, and profound resonances in feminist and psychoanalytic literature.
That's what makes Alien such an important film, it can be appreciated on so many levels.
The entire film has been digitally remastered, so it looks great, and a new sound track has been regenerated, so Jerry Goldsmith's music score sounds better than ever.
If you like science fantasy and have never seen Alien, now's the time. If you wonder whether it's worth a re-visit, treat yourself to a film that makes its spawn look likes amateurs.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communications and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.