Alien In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream
A Social Implications Analysis of the film, Alien.
We are a small team of students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. For our class on the Social Implications of Computing , we were charged to analyze the film Alien in terms of its technological relations to society. On this website, you will find our ideas about the film's creation, its representation of the late 1970's, and the technology used in the movie. We'll also discuss the movie in respect to some of the topics covered in the Social Implications of Computing class.
Connor Flanigan, Chris Hanna, Chris Knapp, Lucas Lebrao, Kerrin Spinney
Alien opens with a slow pan across an unfamiliar spacescape accompanied by eerie, grating, slowly building strings. The mining ship Nostromo, carrying twenty million tons of mineral ore along with seven crew members in stasis, is en route to earth when it receives a distress signal of unknown origin. The ship wakes the crew to respond to the hail, as is their contractual obligation. The crew flies the Nostromo on a course to the planet to the origin of the planet. Upon landing, the ship takes minor damage because of turbulence and the instability of the alien environment.
The ship's Commanding Officer Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt), and Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) set out to investigate the signal's source while engineers Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto), Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm), and Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) stay behind to monitor their progress and make repairs.
The crew discover an alien vessel, which the beacon originates from, and Ripley discovers the the distress beacon is a warning to stay away. Dallas, Kane, and Lambert discover the remains of an alien creature whose ribs appear to have been broken from the inside. Dallas and Lambert continue while Kane investigates the lower levels. Kane soon discovers what seems to be a large incubator containing numerous meter-tall alien eggs. He notices one opening and, while trying to see inside the egg, is attacked by the alien inside. It attaches itself to his face, rendering him unconscious. Dallas and Lambert respond to his distress call and carry him back to the Nostromo. Ripley refuses to allow them back on board in accordance with the quarantine protocols established by Weyland-Yutani; Ash overrides the protocol and allows them to embark.
The crew assembles themselves to coordinate an effort to capture or kill, and then space the juvenile xenomorph. While the rest of the crew corners it in the vents, using makeshift flamethrowers and motion sensors, Brett is sent to find their cat to avoid any unfortunate mixups. Despite their cautions and weapons, Brett is quickly killed by the now fully grown xenomorph, and the extermination turns into a fight for survival. The alien quickly ambushes Dallas, turning the strategy against him as he cannot retreat in the cramped shaft. The two deaths cause Lambert to break down and implore Ripley, now acting Commanding Officer of the ship, to abandon the Nostromo in the shuttle. Ripley explains that the shuttle cannot support four people, and decides that trapping and spacing the xenomorph is the best course of action.
Ripley accesses MOTHER to seek advice and help in eradicating the Alien; MOTHER will not help her, but she discovers that Weyland-Yutani instituted Special Order 937:
PRIORITY ONE INSURE RETURN OF ORGANISM FOR ANALYSIS. ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS SECONDARY. CREW EXPENDABLE.When Ripley confronts Ash, he attacks her, but Parker decapitates him when he hits him in the head with a fire extinguisher and reveals that Ash is an android. Parker reanimates the disembodied head, and discover in the interrogation that Ash was deliberately placed on the crew to recover the alien, the “perfect organism,” and that they were never expected to survive. The remaining crew plans to scuttle the Nostromo and escape in the emergency shuttle. Lambert and Parker are killed by the alien while gathering supplies, which prompts Ripley to initiate the self-destruct sequence. As she attempts to reach the shuttle with the crew's only survivor, Jones the cat, her escape is cut off by the alien.
As she escapes, Ripley discovers that the Alien is aboard the shuttle. There's a bit of a scuffle, and Ripley is successfully able get the xenomorph outside the shuttle. We can be sure that it's dead once it tries to crawl back into the ship and places itself snugly inside the starboard engine, while Ripley quickly opens up the throttle. She places herself and Jones into stasis as she returns to Earth.