A man said to the universe,"Sir, I exist!""However," replied the universe,"That has not filled me withA sense of obligation."-- Stephen CraneThat sense of cosmic contempt is what makes Alien tick. The universe is not simply indifferent to life but outright...
That sense of cosmic contempt is what makes Alien tick. The universe is not simply indifferent to life but outright hostile to it. On top of that, instead of banding together in the face of this, many men elect to stab each other in the back. Alien manages not only to be about this monster that consists mostly of teeth and corrosive blood, but also the contemptuousness of one's fellow man. The alien isn't even the real guilty party: it's just a catalyst for other people's fear, greed and cowardice.
This probably sounds like heady stuff for a movie that spawned three sequels and grossed hundreds of millions of dollars, but if you scratch the surface of any big-name entertainment you find a core of truth. Like Jaws before it, which became the first of the big Hollywood blockbusters by featuring a killer shark which wasn't even on screen for the vast majority of its running time, Alien is not so much about the monster as what the monster invokes in people.
Here's a dichotomy for you: As entertainment, or an adaptation of a novel, or anything vaguely resembling a watchable movie, Dune just plain sucks -- but as some kind of freaky '70s-throwback movie-art head-trip experience, it's only paralleled even moderately...
Here's a dichotomy for you: As entertainment, or an adaptation of a novel, or anything vaguely resembling a watchable movie, Dune just plain sucks -- but as some kind of freaky '70s-throwback movie-art head-trip experience, it's only paralleled even moderately closely by Alejandro Jodorowsky freakouts like El Topo. That Jodorowsky, the single weirdest director in the world, was originally tapped for the film and that David Lynch, the second-weirdest directory in the world, eventually came on board to replace him, makes a kind of perverse sense. A more workmanlike director wouldn't survive trying to get through a story this far-out; Dune needed someone as whacked as Lynch to even begin to get off the ground.
Well, they got off the ground, all right, and after three and a half years and $40 million the whole flaming Zeppelin went aground, hard. Roger Ebert hated the movie ("the whole thing looks like it's been left out in the sun too long") and the New York Times devoted an entire page or more, if memory serves, trying to say something nice and in the end helplessly admitting that it sure was one strange film. Even fans of the books were scratching their heads in complete disbelief at how weird the thing was.
This page contains an archive of posts for the month of January 2004.
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