Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aliens: Underestimating the Problem


“This time it’s war.”

Actually, that is just one viewing possible for Cameron’s take on the Alien universe. He did actually base a lot of what his story is about around the Vietnam conflict. However, there is also the huge theme of motherhood. Also, the minor themes of corporate greed, prejudicial judgment, and overcoming fear, etc. etc. Even though this movie is just an action flick, there is a lot of undercurrent here.

And it is an eighties action flick. The first Alien was a horror movie with a lot of build-up. Some of today’s kids might even dub it boring. Aliens is so fast paced and intense that it would be hard to call it horror. It doesn’t quite even make the terror category. If it weren’t for the sci-fi elements, it could be considered a feminist take on Rambo or any other testosterone movie of the decade.

The motherhood theme is the main thing here. There is the throw-away scene in the beginning where Ripley insists on finding out what happened to her little daughter. Later on, when she meets Newt, you know exactly what is going through Ripley’s mind and understand her motivations completely. It is not exactly subtle, but then it is a James Cameron film. When the alien queen finally comes on the scene the film has reached its natural conclusion—it is mother against mother. Ripley kills all the queen’s babies, and the queen wants revenge.

There is no moral equivalent here, however. Killing the aliens is never brought into question. The only mistake the military make in this conflict is in underestimating the enemy. It is somewhat refreshing to have a military movie where the fight is so clear. There are evil bad guys and no doubts as to what to do. The alien’s very existence is dependent on killing others. It is the way their biology works, and not an evil ideology, but there is a parallel there.

Where evil manifests itself as an ideology of destruction and oppression, that ideology must be eradicated. That does not always mean eradication of the people or groups that hold to that ideology, but where minds cannot be changed survival dictates action. The death of any freedom loving tolerant society lies in what it is willing to tolerate. Tolerate evil ideologies that by definition are intolerant and see how long your way of life is allowed to persist.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see someone focus on what I also believe to be Cameron's real intention. For my money everything else (Vietnam war parallels, corporate malfeasance, hell, even the aliens themselves) is mere artifice that the film maker constructs solely so that he can strip it away scene by scene until we reach the core of the narrative. In the end the only survivors are the nominal father (Hicks) the mother figure (Ripley) and the adopted daughter (Newt) floating through space to points unknown.

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