chapter
12 Pages

Introduction

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]; Alien3 [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.