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42 Pages

Kane’s Son, Cain’s Daughter: One

ByRidley Scott’s Alien One

Above the sparse opening credits, as the camera pans slowly from the outer rim of a planet’s Saturnian rings across the pitch black of its surface and back out to the opposite rim of those rings, the title of this film is indicated in a slowly emerging sequence of vertical strokes. It thus appears to emerge from the surface of the planet itself, the place from which the alien creature after which the film is named emerges; and it is indicated rather than spelt out, because some of its constituent letters (not being wholly composed of (near) vertical strokes) are rather implied or suggested, their precise identity left for the viewer to determine in her imagination – just as this film’s director will leave implicit the overall appearance and exact nature of the alien creature itself until (and in some respects beyond) its end. Perhaps, then, we should not expect the exact nature of this film to be any less alien to us than its eponymous protagonist – any less unpredictable from what we think we know that a science fiction or horror movie must be, any less unaccommodated by our existing sense of what the medium of film as such can allow or achieve.