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May 05 2009

Whedon Week at CC2K - The Lost Script For Alien: Resurrection. CinCity2000 digs up Whedon's shooting script for Alien:Resurrection and compares it to the filmed version.

An additional article considers what Serenity might have been like as a TV series-- and tangentially compares the fates of Whedon's couples.

The script was included as a bonus in my Alien Quadrilogy box set, but it was such a bugger to read in DVD format that I gave up. But yes, while reading it I was very surprised by how much was the same... and yet how everything was different.

For me, the "fork"/"f*ck" moment is pretty much a microcosm for the whole film. On screen it makes not the slightest bit of sense whatsoever, but in the script the joke is so clear that it's almost a perverse sort of achievement that they managed to fork it up as badly as they did.
*Sigh* I just re-watched all of them the other day and it made me remember how much I love Ripley... you know before this one.
It's interesting to me to finally find out what the differences were, but the article was spoiled for me by the author's bizarre outburst about French cinema. People who know not of what they speak should keep their mouths shut, especially when not doing so has a tendency to make them sound like a parochial, xenophobic bigot. As a Brit who lives in France believe you me, there's nothing I enjoy more than poking fun at the French, but that outburst was not funny it was just offensive.
You know what I'd love to see? A comic adaptation "Writer's Cut" of Alien: Resurrection.

Dar Horse is just, well, resurrecting its Aliens comics franchise, and they've got more Whedon right now than ever, so why not? You know it'd sell (to me).
I completely disagree with this article. Joss' script would have made a very different movie, but I don't necessarily think better. Whedon and Jeunet have both gone on the record disliking this film, but I think the blending of their individual styles is part of what makes it my favorite in the series. On the other hand, I definitely see the beginnings of Firefly in A:R, which is one of my all-time favorite shows, so perhaps A:R could have been done better. Or if it was, perhaps there wouldn't have been a need to flesh those ideas out into Firefly, which would have been a great loss. Anyway, point-to-point-to-his-point-to-point:

1) General Perez. Doing him sort of comical made his character. Sort of like the Master's sense of humor, or how guano-loco Glory was. Is it over the top? Absolutely. Comic-book like, and a different thematic color than much of the rest of the movie? Sure thing. But the contrast (particularly contrasted to Brad Dorif's more menacing-crazy) is what made the character interesting, rather than just another same-old, same-old evil military villian.

2) Call. Great character, and central to the story, struggling with similar issues as Ripley (and indeed, projecting her own feelings on to Ripley). The two of them definitely needed more interaction, and I think the ending was a good setup to that. I would have liked to have seen a scene or two on Earth with them. But not a battle. Her character didn't need an action-scene ending to gain resolution or strength. I think Winona Ryder did play up the "teen angst" aspect of the character a little too much (particularly in the first half of the film), but I think she would have been handled better with more conversation and interaction, not more blowing stuff up.

3) Ripley. To say that Ripley begins and ends in the same place seems like they were watching a different film than I was. Furthermore, what happened demonstrates EXACTLY what the author of this article wanted to see, or felt should have been done. Her crying over the chimera does not mean she's feeling more affinity with the monster in her than the human part. In fact, it demonstrates that she can empathize (something she was unable to do with anything at the beginning of the movie), sees the conflict in herself reflected in the chimera, and chooses to let go of the monster by killing it. By doing so, she acknowledges that she is killing a part of herself. It demonstrates recognizing that the abomination is NOT some faceless monstrocity, but something she carries within and can only be overcome by force of will and humanity. A choice, rather than just doing what comes emotionally natural. Which leads us to:

4) The Chimera. If the alien at the end was a typically monsterous inhuman creature, that conflict would be lost. It would have demonstrated that the monster is completely external...a "bad guy" that you cannot relate to, just another bug to be stepped on. Ripley's internal conflict would not have been dealt with, it would have been negated. Maybe it could have been handled better, or at least differently, but giving it character made the end of the movie far more powerful.

I love the Alien movies. The first three were action thrillers. Lots of fun, interesting, but not particularly deep movies. I don't believe that every film has to be an exploration of the soul or humanity, but I'm glad that A:R was. It's something science fiction can be really, really good at. As for not liking it, well, everone has different tastes.
I love the Alien movies. The first three were action thrillers. Lots of fun, interesting, but not particularly deep movies.


Wow, narse I couldn't disagree with you more, there. I'm willing to concede that Cameron's Aliens isn't a particularly deep film, although it makes up for it by being such a brilliant action thriller. I have mixed feelings about the third film, but it definitely isn't an action thriller at all -- I'd say it is attempting to be a very deep meditative film but it's questionable whether it succeeds.

But the first movie is an exceptionally deep film. Anyone who thinks it just a superior monster movie is missing so so much. I've discussed this before here. The philosopher Stephen Mulhall has a very slim little volume called On Film, the four chapters of which are close readings of the four Alien films. He takes all four seriously, and finds much depth in all of them. But for me his reading of the first is the most persuasive.

The alien species appears not so much to follow nature's imperatives as to incarnate them. This is not because it is driven to survive and reproduce, but rather because it is so purely driven, because it appears to have no other drives - no desire to communicate, no culture, no modes of play or pleasure or industry other than those necessitated by its own continuation as a species. The alien's form of life is (just, merely, simply) life, life as such: it is not so much a particular species as the essence of what it means to be a species, to be a creature, a natural being, it is Nature incarnate or sublimed, a nightmare embodiment of the natural realm ...


Of course the other films in the series also have these themes, but they get them for free in virtue of being sequels. The first presents a uniquely disturbing meditation on our nature, our embodiment, our sexuality. The sexuality: John Hurt orally raped, and then giving birth to a monster which rips through his chest - child birth as death; Lambert being raped to death by the Alien's tale. The focus on the body: the humans first appearing in all their fleshiness, born from a mechanical womb that they call "Mother"; ending with Ripley in her underwear, exposed but also sexualised; our softness surrounded by technology compared to the "perfect organism" which appears to internalise its. That's why I think it is a truly great film in a way in which I don't believe any of the others truly manages, and because as Mulhall argues it explores these themes in a very specifically cinematic fashion.

[ edited by dzr on 2009-05-05 17:35 ]
I watched the Alien trilogy DVD set I have just yesterday. It's so funny coming here and seeing an Alien thread.

It's been awhile since I watched the movies and I had three Whedony-geek moments while watching Aliens: When Van Leuwen mentions "terraformers" being on LV-426 at Ripley's inquest, at the Weyland-Yutani Corp logo that says "Building Better Worlds" and when the pilot Ferro says "We're in the pipe, five by five."

So my new personal fanon for the character of Faith is that she loved the Alien movies and that's where she got the phrase five by five from. :)
menomegirl I get the other two but what is the Whedon connection with "terraformers"?
Terraforming was how they built worlds that were liveable in Firefly/Serenity.
The notion that sex organs are vulgar in the context of allegorizing reproduction as a monster from outer space is eminently funny to me. The French have a firmer grasp on some concepts.

menomegirl, great find with that Faith quote. I always wondered where that came from. The term terraforming is older than the Alien movie, though.
I completely agree abpout the Chimera and Ripley, narse. And I don't know if the version reviewed is the same as the one on the Alien Quadrilogy set, which I've read but don't have at hand, but honestly I thought the filmed ending was better than Joss's. Big sky battle? How does that apply to anything before?
dzr The author's comments about French Cinema were suppose to be offensive, that was point.
I'm not quite sure what your point is, xerox.

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