The movie Alien One, directed by Ridley Scott in the late seventies, is set in deep space after the year 2000. It is a revered science fiction film with classic status and a dedicated cult following. The meticulous cinematography plays a major role in its lasting appeal, as it has been meticulously planned and executed with meticulous attention to detail. The opening sequence captivates viewers with its suspenseful depiction, encompassing the essence of a classic sci-fi sequence.
The viewer is captivated by the lighting, sound, and exceptional acting, anticipating what is to come. The initial sequence introduces us to various cinematic techniques. The atmosphere is unsettling, and isolation is emphasized. The sets are dimly lit, and the camera angles create a sense of confinement with close-ups of the characters as they move and interact on the ship. Captain Dallas navigates through different restricted areas, seemingly alone before the first attack occurs.
The use of a blow torch for lighting adds danger and a harsh atmosphere to the scene. Despite being the only source of light away from the main crew, even this bright light fails to soften the black and eerie color scheme of the set. The sharp hatches confine Captain Dallas, giving the illusion that he is completely isolated and unable to retreat. Additionally, the close camera angle maintains a feeling of claustrophobia throughout. The characters are visibly stressed and sweating, expressing concern not only for their own safety, but also for that of their colleagues.
The use of sound in this scene is extraordinary. The radar sound is intense and dramatic, growing louder as the scene builds up. The music perfectly matches the tone and adds to the drama. It softens and intensifies at all the right moments. For instance, when we first encounter the Alien at the end of the sequence, the music reaches its climax. The actor’s breathing also aligns with the music, as does the use of his heartbeat.
Personally, I believe that the movie’s direction cleverly relies on the idea of “less is more” when it comes to showcasing horrific scenes. Instead, it effectively utilizes music, lighting, and the exceptional acting skills of the cast to gradually build up tension and fear. During its production, this film was considered groundbreaking and revolutionized cinematography. Its special effects, casting choices, and contemporary concept set a new standard that took years to surpass. Therefore, I consider this opening scene in a science fiction movie to be one of the greatest I have ever witnessed and eagerly anticipate experiencing more of Ridley Scott’s work.