On Film

On Film

On Film

On Film

Synopsis

Bringing a philosopher's eye to film, Mulhall reflects on what the Alien films tell us about the nature of sexual difference, the relation of human identity to the body, and asks what logic, if any, operates within the alien beings' apparently Darwinian universe. On a deeper level, he argues that the films skilfully pit nihilism against religion and the technological against the natural, going to the heart of the human condition itself.

Excerpt

Few films produced over the last two decades have simultaneously achieved as much popular and critical success as the four members of the 'Alien' series (Alien [1979]; Aliens [1986]; Alien [1992]; Alien Resurrection [1997]). They focus on Flight Lieutenant Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) as she confronts the threat posed to herself, her companions and the human race by the spread of a hostile alien species. But this description hardly begins to capture their peculiar economy of simplicity and power - the charismatic force of Weaver's incarnation of Ripley's despairing but indomitable courage, the uncanny otherness of the aliens, and of course the alien universe itself, stripped of the clutter of social particularity to reveal receding horizons of mythic significance. It now seems as if it was clear from the outset that it would take more than one film to explore those horizons, and thereby to unfold the full meaning of Ripley's intimate loathing of her foes.

But there are, of course, more specific reasons for choosing to focus on this series of films in a philosophical book on film - reasons having to do with what one might call the underlying logic of the alien universe they depict. For these movies are preoccupied, even obsessed, with a variety of interrelated anxieties about human identity - about the troubled and troubling question of individual integrity and its relation to the body, sexual difference and nature. What exactly is my place

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