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ALIEN (1979)

The crew of a commercial towing ship is awoken early from hypersleep by a mysterious SOS signal coming from a nearby planet. Tied by company contracts, the crew are forced to inspect the call, and come across a derelict alien ship.

Alien uses lighting to great effect and it’s low-key look is what first comes to mind. From completely dark and hidden places, to being painfully bright at some times, the movie is generally kept in a dark and backlit mood. A vast majority of the feeling the movie creates is achieved through it’s intense lighting. Because of its mood, Alien could be considered a horror movie more than a Science Fiction film. Previous Science Fiction films used to be very brightly lit and clean, as can be best seen in Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). This look is hugely contrasted by the gritty realism of the Nostromo, the ship where most of Alien takes place. The set design is astounding, curves and ribbed walls make it look strangely organic – as if it is an alien itself. Thousands of little bulbs can be seen meticulously placed in the scene where Tom Serritt talks to Mother. It is easily seen, that the gigantic spaceship, with its low-ceilings and four-walled sets, called for lighting methods that were far out-of-the-ordinary. Lighting mostly comes through grills or from practicals and needed to be hidden. As a result, most of the film is lit with non-conventional equipment, such as 747 aircraft lights, “panic” lights, a certain amount of neon and fluorescent units, and a great deal of special effects light. The few existing scenes in high-key, can be seen as a way of showing safety and absence of the alien, in contrast to the suspense creating low-key look. The terror of the alien lurking around in the shadows can really be emphasized.

Cinematographer: DEREK VANLINT
Year: 1979
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Next Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey

January 3, 2018

If you like these Stills, make sure to buy the movie, it is our absolutely highest recommendation.

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