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Bryn Mawr Film Institute
824 W Lancaster Ave, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010
From a script originally entitled STAR BEAST, and influenced by such science fiction creature features as IT!, THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, and THE PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, Ridley Scott’s ALIEN (1979), transcends genre boundaries to emerge as a reflection of the exploitative societal dynamics extant in the final decades of the twentieth century. The film presents a nihilistic vision of a universe dominated by corporate greed that sees a manufacturing-based economic expansion into space in order to mine planets for their commercial resources. The crew is divided across obvious class boundaries, with the lumpen proletariat confined to the bowels of the ship, there to impotently bemoan the discrepancies of income dispersals. Ruling over all is the company, whose desires are enacted without hesitation by their manufactured products, machines imbued with artificial intelligence that assert their own agenda through means overt and covert. This faceless corporate enterprise prizes the acquisition of assets for financial gain above all else, with human life becoming an expendable asset in the attainment of lucrative commercial product.
The film’s eponymous entity, designed by H.R. Giger to be both terrifying and beautiful, and reputedly inspired by a photograph of a Sudanese warrior taken by director Leni Riefenstahl, echoes the eugenics-inspired fears of America’s past, while simultaneously reflecting growing concerns over the military industrial complex sparked by the Vietnam War. It is a creature that has become one of the most iconic figures of science fiction and horror cinema. If the screening alone doesn’t make clear why, this seminar’s lecture and discussion surely will.
Meets at BMFI:
Tuesday, August 22
6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
$25 for BMFI members, $30 for non-members; includes admission to the film
Taught by Andrew Owen, Ph.D., Department of Sociology & Criminology, Cabrini University
Register for this course at brynmawrfilm.org/education/class.php?id=2057
or by calling (610) 527-4008 x108.