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VIDIOCY

ALIEN3
(1992)



Kobayashi Syonan-Teo


Directed by: David Fincher
Written by : Larry Ferguson, David Giler, Walter Hill, Vincent Ward
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dutton, Pete Postlethwaite
Produced by: 20th Century Fox

WHY SIGOURNEY IS JESUS
--WATCHING ALIEN3 IN THE LIGHT OF SE7EN

When ALIEN3 first came to the screens, it got a lukewarm critical reception, just short of being panned completely. Partly because of that, I never got round to seeing it at the cinema. But lately, with the enormous impact of SE7EN, when I found that ALIEN3 was by the same director David Fincher, I thought I had to go get the video. It was a fascinating experience.

It struck me straight away that the two films have a lot in common besides skewed numerals in their titles. The darkness, the blood, the gloomy endings, the themes of death, damnation, and salvation. Portentous stuff, then, and in both films flagged by the prominent use of religious overtones - the Milton-quoting in SE7EN, the convicts who have converted to "some apocalyptic millenarian Christian cult" (as the doctor puts it) in ALIEN3. That the prisoners resemble monks, with their bald heads and their "vows of celibacy", is first seen as something of an ironic joke by the inmates, but it takes on a certain reality : a sealed, monastic community forced to contemplate the end. (I don't know what to make of it, but they're also dead ringers for the bald apocalyptic cult in CITY OF LOST CHILDREN).

In both, then, it seems to me that Fincher is using thriller genres (sci-fi/serial killer) to explore parables of sin and redemption. Humankind in both is portrayed as scum: criminals, sinners and fallen men. The somewhat protracted discussion of the kindly doctor's past (he was imprisoned for causing the death of his patients) only makes sense in relation to this. Similarly, Dillon (Charles Dutton) repeatedly reminds us that he was "a murderer and a rapist", but goes on to equal Ripley in heroism -- like Morgan Freeman in SE7EN, he is a black character who is the voice of spiritual authority but also a man with sins on his back.

Into the fallen world of humans comes the killer. Unlike Kevin Spacey's psycho-bible- freak in SE7EN, the Alien has no motive besides eating and breeding. But that doesn't make it a bit less frightening, an unseen monster that they are nearly helpless against as it savages one victim after another.

In an ending that is the mirror image of SE7EN's (in which the heroes survive but the world seems a darker place), the heroes of ALIEN3 die to save the human race. Sure, Ripley is a Christlike figure -- unblemished by an evil past herself, she dies to redeem the sins of others. But the emphasis is not on the glory of this saviour but its opposite: she and the men are outcasts, cut off and rejected by humanity. To the rest of the world, they are worthless "crud". All we see of the outside world is the malignant Company - to whom the convicts are expendable in the interests of acquiring biological weapons. It seems a world unworthy of its saviours.

If the script at times seems overly solemn to the point of cliche (as in the speech "we all have to die, ..."), the actors are strong enough to make the lines live. Sigourney Weaver's "to them, we're... we're crud" is a prime example of an almost-silly line spoken movingly -- at this point, with the tension, pain and anger in her voice, we see that words are clumsy, useless in the face of the hell they are in. Sigourney Weaver is magisterial -- like her character in DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, a figure who has survived unspeakable horrors and responds with vulnerability, with thought and with a heroism that goes beyond simple bash'em'all macho-emulation. There is nobody quite like her in Hollywood.

But it's the images in ALIEN3 that make the film so haunting -- the dank, claustrophobic tunnels, the cremation scene of two bodies slowly falling into the furnace, which is mirrored by Ripley's final scene. As in SE7EN, Fincher's most unsettling images linger not on killing but on the remains of bodies -- the autopsy of the child, the diced flesh of a convict hanging off the walls, and a scene where one survivor's face is sprayed with the blood of a friend as he watches him killed.

And then there are the images from the CAT scan as Ripley finds out that her body contains an alien larvae. It's the monster within -- what is perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the Alien (mostly ignored by ALIENS), now brought centrestage. In the film's most famous image, of Sigourney Weaver's look of terror as a monster looms right next to her face, her gaunt and shaven head looks uncannily like an alien reptile herself. She even says to the Alien at one point, "Don't be scared, I'm one of the family". The alien inside her paradoxically dooms her and makes her invulnerable, because the mother alien refuses to kill her. It also changes the terms of her battle completely, for the enemy cannot be destroyed except by destroying herself first. Salvation is achieved not through risking the body (as in the other ALIEN films), but through surrendering it completely.

I think that in time ALIEN3 will come to be seen as more than standing up to comparison with the others in the series, perhaps even with acknowledged classics of sci-fi like BLADE RUNNER and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. At least, I hope so.

"Why? Why the innocent, punished? Why the sacrifice? Why the pain? There aren't any promises. Nothing certain. Only that some get called, others saved... We commit these bodies to the void with a glad heart. For within each seed, there is a promise of a flower, and within each death, no matter how small, there is always a new life. A new beginning." Dillon's funeral oration.

Kobayashi Syonan-Teo invites any and all contributions to Vidiocy. Is there a favourite film you did like to see taken off the shelves and re-inserted into our heads? Time to email us.

The Flying Inkpot's Rating System

* Wait for the TV2 broadcast.
** A little creaky, but still better than staying at home with Tonight With Gurmit.
*** Pretty good, bring a friend.
**** Amazing, potent stuff.
***** Perfection. See it twice.
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Readers' Comments


From: Richard (rb_swe@hotmail.com)

bigger and more pictures

From: damiano ()

I'm roman catholic & therefore I shoudl get really angry & put this message in CAPS.......but no, great stuff....keep it up.

From: cheat-pimp (cheat-pimp@indianvalley.com)

Jesus is really a test tube baby if you will. Mary was beemed up to the heavens in a red light of fire (alien abduction) and they put the seamen of Aligha (<--- dont think thats spelled corect but awell) and Mary had Jesus's seamen inserted into her and that is why when Jesus came about he said that he was Aligha who live way before him.... i know this really has nothing to do with your site but just a cool thought from me... L8erz cheat-pimp

From: kjxhvkjzkjghk (kjsdfkjsdlkf)

I think this movie is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

From: Buddy Love (Dream@com.com)

Sorry. but I came a little late but so what?

From: Adya (Adyas@compuserve.com)

Hi,I seriously crazy about aliens movies.I used to hate sciencetic movies but I guess I shouldn't be projudice without knowing it.Recently I just rent aliens ressuraction and when i finished watching it I was like Oh'my God that was bloody amazing movie.The day after I went back to rent the whole things 1,2 and 3 and I absolutelly love it.So I went back to buy the three of them and I can't wait until the 4 one out to buy. Sigourney is amazing woman.... They should make a new one again.....Thank's

From: Guillaume Bolduc (PBolduc@attcanada.net)

Sirgouney Weaver is my favorite actress.I find Sirgouney the best girl for this movie because it's a girl who have the physical characteristic for to be the heroine in this film.

From: Guillaume Bolduc (pbolduc@att.canada.net)


From: Guillaume Bolduc (pbolduc@att.canada.net)

I really want to speak with Sirgouney.Please

From: Kenny.H. (dont have adrs.)

this site kicks a..s.

From: Liz (liz@vital.co.uk)

Anyone know the name of the guy in Alien 3 with the teardrop tattoo???...has he been in anything else ever??

From: Michael L. (mlowe@luna.cas.usf.edu)

I also didn't notice Alien3 until seeing SE7EN. And I would have to agree that both films express a sci-fi/thriller's incorporation of religious topics such as sin and redemption. However, I would hasten to point out that neither Alien3 nor SE7EN came from screenplays written by their director, David Fincher. But this is a minor point, not worth making in comparison to what I'd like to say concerning the relation of the two films. I would agree that both sin and redemption find their places in these films. However, I was at a loss to read the author's somewhat hasty generalization concerning this similarity. First of all, SE7EN, at least in my mind, is of the film noir flavor, meaning that all the bad stuff has already happened and we're to just sticking around to watch the expression on Brad Pitt's face (probably the most memorable moment of the film). And since everything has already happened, that is, redemption is hopeless, we, like Dante, are restricted to a distanced and objective viewing of particular sins. Now, you could say that the order of this failed religious conversion is reversed in Allien3. Here sins are discovered early on, and the sinners are relatively uninteresting and stereotypical. Also, their victim, Ripley, remains visible throughout the show. Her vulnerable position as persistent victim is made evident in the failed rape scene. Here sin is a falling into temptation, a perfectly understandable situation in light of Sigourney's attractive features and the convict's rather severe diet. In SE7EN, however, John Doe, played by a delightfully vacuous Kevin Spacey, kills for no reason at all. He represents the illogical machine, a procedural repubic, a Kafkan bureaucratic faceless semblance, anamorphic even in the light. Alien3's progression takes us to the limits of fear, where the alien, the Real of desire in Lacanian terminology, is defied in a sacrificial fatal strategy by Dillon, representative of redemption; but the very fact of this this desire's existence is ambiguous, that is, nameless, means the film in a way strives to fill it out, to understand it. This understanding risks annihilation, both Dillon and Ripley meet the desire head on and perish, and I might go so far as to call it (the desire) 'lust', and that's precisely why John Doe's act of registering his deeds within and according to a textual, written code is so 180 degrees of the alien's function in the former film. Alien3 moves from sin to ambiguous redemption, SE7EN goes the other way, beginning with a weird but mundane depression (living in New York) and gradually attains a critical level toward sin where the process of enunciation implies an agent whom Freeman and Pitt must capture, in other words define. They try to define the sin of all sins. It, instead of the redemption (which is impossible), is ambiguous. A quick point about the black actors. Dillon is a convert, to be sure. But Freeman, if I remember correctly, is, again, 180 degrees the other direction. He's a cynical and depressed detective who doesn't believe in the good of the common man, much less in some systematic ascetic religion making him a 'monk'. The conversation he has with Pitt in a bar about 'apathy' is so totally un-Dillon and un-spiritual I'm confident to say the author should re-check his premises on this one. gracias, Michael L.

From: Lt. Ellen Ripley ()


From: derek (briand@bserv.com / Saturday, October 10, 1998 at 08:22:03)

uh....hi. this message is for liz i think.....that guy with the tatoo of a tear drop's name is junior. oh by the way alien³ kicked ass! hey visit my web page at: http://www.angelfire.com/me/dcdalien/index.html----it's on the alien movies. it kicks ass too!!!

From: Cat Meat (catmeatisgood@yahoo.com / Monday, January 11, 1999 at 14:18:12)

I agree with the opinion of this article, as Alien3 is my favorite of the series. It has the most atmosphere and the best acting of any of the other movies.

From: eren ( / Thursday, January 21, 1999 at 19:09:38)


From: rex emmen ( / Tuesday, February 23, 1999 at 21:22:11)

i think that the queen alien never had the time to lay an egg!!!

From: rex emmen ( / Tuesday, February 23, 1999 at 21:26:04)

And you can see that there was only one egg at the sulacco and there were two facehuggers in the movie one for the dog and one for ripley? could somebody explaine that for me please.

From: pel ( / Monday, March 1, 1999 at 22:48:35)


From: pel ( / Monday, March 1, 1999 at 22:49:50)

wheres my moose

From: ( / Saturday, March 6, 1999 at 02:39:44)

Scheiße!

From: ELL (KRENIM666@HOTMAIL.COM / Tuesday, March 23, 1999 at 20:34:53)

YOUR ABSOLUTELY CORRECT ABOUT EVERYTHING IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSE THE MATTER FURTHER PLEASE FEEL WELCOME TO CONTACT ME?

From: skarekrow (skarekrow@piratesnet.com / Thursday, April 29, 1999 at 08:51:24)

As for the two embryos in the third movie, there is a scene that was cut where one of the inmates finds the remains of a larger-than normal facehugger, supposedly capable of depositing more than one embryo.

From: RODRIGO FERNANDO ARAYA RIVERA (TILIN69 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 at 10:23:01)


From: Caporal.Hicks (prodejh'y_02@hotmail.com / Monday, June 7, 1999 at 01:59:22)

I think that Aliens 2 is the best movie ever created. They should do Alien5 just like in Alien"the return" whit marines equip whit pulse rifle, flamme thrower,smart gun and other cool weapon. I think that the Aliens series beat starwar. Starwar is good but even whit the episode 1 it's still a old movie that should be remplace.

From: BartmanGold (lwebb@surfsouth.com / Wednesday, June 9, 1999 at 00:50:32)

I think that Aliens was the best of the series, but I like the design of the Aliens in Alien 3 better. However, I would have liked to see more aliens.

From: Charles Van Valkenburg (chuckiev@uslink.net / Tuesday, June 15, 1999 at 13:29:34)

I think this article hits the nail right on the head, the alien movies are some of my favorite and alien3 rivals as my all time favorite. I dont care what any film critics say Fincher is a film-making genius, alien3 is a work of art down to every minute. What makes it so great is the emphasis of its atmosphere incorporating the visuals the ideas and most importantly the music-- it gives it a wonderfully depressed feel so to say. The music is especially excellent, I have listened to the soundtrack millions of times and it never gets old. The first time I saw this film to the ending I thought, this can't be how it ends, but it has-- much like death will happen some day, we just have to learn to accept it with peace of mind. With this and film critics reviews the film hasn't done as well as others, because typical moviegoers dont like the kind of movie that makes them think. So as for it being a cult classic like blade runner I dont think it will be that lucky even, few people recognize it for the accomplishment it is. Any movie that doesn't immediately leave the viewer 'warm and fuzzy' at the ending wont get good reviews. All that matters to me is my thoughts of this movie and the memories it carries for me, it has been an inspiration for darkness. If you want to discuss with me feel free to email, I'd like to know your thoughts on it if you feel similarly.

From: Rob (l4l420@aol.com / Monday, June 21, 1999 at 16:01:13)

I think that Alien was a very intense movie while Aliens was the best of the series and Alien3 really pissed me off. I mean the whole time during Aliens, Ripley, Hicks, and Newt are the main plot characters. Yet as soon as 3 starts, Hicks and Newt are dead. I mean come on, ya had me pissed everytime a Marine died in Aliens. Hudson, Vasquez, Hicks, Drake, and Apone were my fav's yet Apone and Drake died right off and Hudson and Vasquez died near the end. Then Hicks died at the begining of three. A damaging blow to A3 that it never recovered from in my opinion

From: Jazn Drexell Nox (Jazn70@yahoo.com / Tuesday, June 22, 1999 at 01:43:14)

Well, don't know how to start but here I go... I saw the first alien movie when I was a child and it was really impressive to me to watch all the creatures, I learn that there was a guy called Giger who create this amazing creatures, then I start to dig into sci/fi, now i'm 24 years old and I become a sci/fi lover, I found your page very impressive, those things about Alien3 and se7en you found are really deep. I have a lot of info on Sci/fi films and novels, write me back to discuss our points of view, hope to hear from you soon, C' ya.

From: Brad (wwatkins@gateway.net / Tuesday, August 3, 1999 at 10:59:46)

I fully agree. Finally someone who recognizes the pure brilliance of Fincher's work. The soundtrack by Elliot Goldenthal was a masterpiece as well.

From: Liz (liz@vital .co.uk / Wednesday, August 11, 1999 at 05:12:27)

I have the Alien Trilogy Soundtrack on Cd and thoroughly recommend it to all 'aliens' fans. The Tracks for Alien 3 by Elliot Goldenthal are excellent I agree, but I still think that James Horners' contribution to 'Aliens' is the most innovative.