Analysing a Scene from Ridley Scott's Alien

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Analysing a scene from Ridley Scott's Alien There are many techniques that contribute to the horror a film can produce in its viewer. One of the proclaimed masters of horror, Sir Alfred Hitchcock believed that to frighten the audience, the director needed to frighten the child inside the viewer (Television interview, 1964). Techniques to make films horrifying have been developing since almost the beginning of film itself (Babbis, 1990). The term 'art horror' can be attributed to a film entirely dedicated to creating that feeling of horror in its viewer (Carroll, 1987). Ridley Scott's Alien released in 1979 is a film that can be categorised as such an art horror. Alien's writer Dan O'Bannon described his goal as wanting it to be like the science fiction film like Dark Star (released in 1974), only "as a horror not a comedy" (DVD commentary, 2003). At the time, this mix of genre's was almost unheard of. The success of Alien however can be attributed to many things, the cinematography techniques being one of the stand out features of the film. It received several awards for the cinematography and an Oscar nomination for art/set decoration (1979). This following paper will closely analyse a short, famous scene from the movie Alien and analyse the cinematography, mis en scene and relevance of the events to the storyline. It will also discuss those techniques effectiveness in helping to create a sense of fear in the viewer. Alien, released in 1979 still lies among the most popular science fiction horror movies. The American film institute recently declared it to be number 7 in the top 10 science fiction movies ever made (2008). The particular scene being analysed known as the 'Chestburster scene' and has been rated as one of the most 'gut-wrenching' scenes in any film (Empire Magazine, 2007). The sequence of shots being analysed lies after the crew have had
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