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Author Topic: Why is it so seemingly difficult for producers to drop Ripley’s character?  (Read 5233 times)

TC
Aug 29, 2021, 06:10:09 PM
Reply #60 on: Aug 29, 2021, 06:10:09 PM
We’re back under Covid lockdown where I am so, with spare time on my hands, I decided another viewing of Alien 3 was in order. It’s been a few years since I last watched it. (By the way, this was the special edition in the Alien Anthology, the version with the ox-burster. Is this the same thing as the “Assembly Cut” everyone talks about? It looks like no roughly drafted assembly I’ve ever seen.)

And, well, it is different from the way I remembered it. Ripley is not miserable throughout the entire film as I thought. Sure, after learning of Newt and Hicks’ deaths she’s pretty depressed, but flirting with Clemens seems to perk her up quite a bit. Actually, that in itself is kind of weird—but no time to ponder that, there’s a time immediately following when she seems quite galvanised into action, getting the prisoners organised. So contrary to my recollection, she is quite focused on survival at this point.

But she goes downhill from there.

There’s the scene where the prisoners get together and confront her with blame for their predicament, and (I think it’s) Morse says they should kill her by smashing her into a wall. And Ripley rather dourly says, that’s fine by her. This is not a way for her to avoid the horror of the chest burst, btw, since this is before she learns she’s been impregnated. So it sounds like she’s back to being depressed and having suicidal thoughts even at this early stage.

Of course, once she learns about the chestburster she’s carrying there’s no doubt that suicide is on her mind. She goes down to the basement hoping the alien will kill her, and clearly, she’s disappointed when that plan fails. So she goes back to Dillon (very strange transition there, btw, as though there’s a sequence missing) to beg him to cave her skull in with the fire axe. This is one severely desperate woman looking for a way out of life.

Thankfully, the action scenes that follow do a lot to leaven the depressing atmosphere, as they all work to lure the alien down the maze-like passageways into the foundry. It’s not really scary since there’s no one whose survival you really care about—it’s only Ripley we care about—but we’ve already learned the alien won’t kill her. But even if it would, she’s already showed us that she herself wanted death by alien, so maybe that would be a good thing? But all that aside, the chasing through the passageways is quite thrilling. And we do get to see Ripley back in action mode, which is a welcome change up.

But the real question is, is Ripley’s death a triumphant sacrifice (“giving the middle finger to the man” and all that), or the suicide of a broken woman?

I have no doubt the movie wants us to feel like it’s the former, but whether by wrecked storytelling or inadvertent, unintended effect, there’s a lot of the latter mixed in there as well. In my opinion, as I said earlier, it’s a bit of both.

This is not the same heroic ending that, say, Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) gets at the end of Saving Private Ryan, which is also a ”mixed fortune” ending. Miller’s death is clearly the noble sacrifice of a man who had everything to live for. Audiences responded well to this ending. Not so much with Alien 3. In fact, I think the audience reception to Alien 3 would have been positive, even with the death of Newt and Hicks, if only Ripley’s sacrifice had felt much more triumphant, instead of what felt like the relief of death for a woman with no hope for the future.

TC


[cancerblack]
Aug 29, 2021, 08:38:36 PM
Reply #61 on: Aug 29, 2021, 08:38:36 PM
Some of us like the "suicide of a broken woman" aspect but I get why a general audience does not.

OT, you getting up to anything else in lockdown? Pretty much just beer and yardwork for me.


SiL
Aug 29, 2021, 10:09:06 PM
Reply #62 on: Aug 29, 2021, 10:09:06 PM
It's definitely a bit of both -- she's tired of fighting and this is the best way to put a stop to all of it. Bishop II dangles a carrot in front of her but she isn't biting any more. She's done.

But there's still the element that she decides to definitely get rid of the Alien rather than maybe chance having it taken out and maybe living some kind of life. She has a moral obligation to the human race to not let the Company get the Alien, so she does the noble thing and yeets herself into the furnace.

As much as Alien3 is about nihilism the film's final conclusion is to reject nihilism. The universe is unquestionable shitty and uncaring -- but there is still value in moral action.


Kimarhi
Aug 29, 2021, 10:46:05 PM
Reply #63 on: Aug 29, 2021, 10:46:05 PM
Also, would you even really trust the company?  Might've just let her burst and used Morse as a host. 

I will also maintain that the death of Ripley has less to do with the film being disliked than the abandonment of the Hicks/Newt/Ripley nuclear family storyline with their character's deaths.  People wanted them to confront the Alien menace together and be able to finally live a peaceful life.   



TC
Aug 30, 2021, 06:03:44 AM
Reply #64 on: Aug 30, 2021, 06:03:44 AM
Some of us like the "suicide of a broken woman" aspect but I get why a general audience does not.

OT, you getting up to anything else in lockdown? Pretty much just beer and yardwork for me.

The only comparable film I can think of is Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas. Basically, Nicholas Cage decides to drink himself to death and gets involved in a relationship with prostitute Elisabeth Shue in which she agrees not to criticise his choice of suicide, of which, by film’s end, he succeeds in. Yay for him.

Lots of critical success and Oscars all round. But (and I guess this says as much about me as it does the sentiments of the filmmakers) I hated it. You might like it though.

Yard work. Yeah, a lot of that. Also taking the time to watch lots of movies and streaming shows I missed.


...
As much as Alien3 is about nihilism the film's final conclusion is to reject nihilism. The universe is unquestionable shitty and uncaring -- but there is still value in moral action.

Yep, I’m with you. I do not understand the belief that Alien films teach us that, nihilistically, nothing in life is worth fighting for.


...
I will also maintain that the death of Ripley has less to do with the film being disliked than the abandonment of the Hicks/Newt/Ripley nuclear family storyline with their character's deaths.
...

So the opposite of what I think, then.  :D

Well, your thoughts have some validity. After all, many well-liked and successful films finish with the death of the main character. Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, Braveheart, Thelma and Louise, Gladiator, Million Dollar Baby… What’s the main difference between them and Alien 3? Well, as you say, Alien 3 gets off to a bad start with the unceremonious deaths of two loved characters (and never really recovers). But also Alien 3 defied audience expectations of a happy ending, unlike the other films I mentioned in which audience’s were more open about how it would end. Alien, and especially Aliens, had established a prior formula in which the movie ends in victory.

I know what some people are thinking: defying audience expectations is a good thing. But this is only partly true. Every story brings with it a “genre expectation”. The Hollywood maxim is, “Give the audience what it wants, but not the way it expects.” Would Predator have been a better film if Arnold had died like a pathetic dog? That would certainly have defied audience expectations! But no, Arnold had to win. This is the genre expectation we are set up with going into the movie. But he had to win in a way we couldn’t exactly predict.

Alien 3’s ending was not what we expected.

This also explains why repeated viewings make the film seem better and better. By this point, we have no mismatched expectations. We already know how it ends.

TC


SiL
Aug 30, 2021, 06:33:31 AM
Reply #65 on: Aug 30, 2021, 06:33:31 AM
I'm with Kimarhi that the opening of Alien3 was much more influential on its reception than its end. I think audiences are more than OK with a bittersweet ending -- but they historically aren't ok with sequels opening by obliterating much of what was left of the previous film in the opening scenes. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Nobody expected a happy ending after that.

It also really doesn't help that the middle of the movie wasn't all that exciting either.

« Last Edit: Aug 30, 2021, 06:37:59 AM by SiL »


Immortan Jonesy
Aug 30, 2021, 11:22:13 AM
Reply #67 on: Aug 30, 2021, 11:22:13 AM
Some good points going around. Alien 3 is okay, it was my introduction into the universe and has a hold on me for that reason. The film has  some good elements but it’s a mess. We’re lucky someone as competent as Fincher was involved and able to slightly lift it out of the Giler fire. But a satisfying conclusion to Ripley or a sequel to Aliens? No, far from it. Alien 3 did have ADI’s only good suit tho, so there’s that.

Yes, it's their best Alien so far, and probably the last time the creature really looked intimidating on big screen.



...
As much as Alien3 is about nihilism the film's final conclusion is to reject nihilism. The universe is unquestionable shitty and uncaring -- but there is still value in moral action.

Yep, I’m with you. I do not understand the belief that Alien films teach us that, nihilistically, nothing in life is worth fighting for.

Quote from: Ripley in ALIEN³
When they first heard about this thing, it was "crew expendable". The next time they sent in marines - they were expendable too. What makes you think they're gonna care about a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space? You really think they're gonna let you interfere with their plans for this thing? They think we're - we're crud. And they don't give a f**k about one friend of yours that's - that's died. Not one.

Yup, she definitely doesn't want mankind to be treated like shit in favor of a penis-headed monster by a cold and unscrupulous company.


The Necronoir
Aug 30, 2021, 03:06:10 PM
Reply #68 on: Aug 30, 2021, 03:06:10 PM
We’re back under Covid lockdown where I am so, with spare time on my hands, I decided another viewing of Alien 3 was in order. It’s been a few years since I last watched it. (By the way, this was the special edition in the Alien Anthology, the version with the ox-burster. Is this the same thing as the “Assembly Cut” everyone talks about? It looks like no roughly drafted assembly I’ve ever seen.)

And, well, it is different from the way I remembered it. Ripley is not miserable throughout the entire film as I thought. Sure, after learning of Newt and Hicks’ deaths she’s pretty depressed, but flirting with Clemens seems to perk her up quite a bit. Actually, that in itself is kind of weird—but no time to ponder that, there’s a time immediately following when she seems quite galvanised into action, getting the prisoners organised. So contrary to my recollection, she is quite focused on survival at this point.

But she goes downhill from there.

There’s the scene where the prisoners get together and confront her with blame for their predicament, and (I think it’s) Morse says they should kill her by smashing her into a wall. And Ripley rather dourly says, that’s fine by her. This is not a way for her to avoid the horror of the chest burst, btw, since this is before she learns she’s been impregnated. So it sounds like she’s back to being depressed and having suicidal thoughts even at this early stage.

Of course, once she learns about the chestburster she’s carrying there’s no doubt that suicide is on her mind. She goes down to the basement hoping the alien will kill her, and clearly, she’s disappointed when that plan fails. So she goes back to Dillon (very strange transition there, btw, as though there’s a sequence missing) to beg him to cave her skull in with the fire axe. This is one severely desperate woman looking for a way out of life.

Thankfully, the action scenes that follow do a lot to leaven the depressing atmosphere, as they all work to lure the alien down the maze-like passageways into the foundry. It’s not really scary since there’s no one whose survival you really care about—it’s only Ripley we care about—but we’ve already learned the alien won’t kill her. But even if it would, she’s already showed us that she herself wanted death by alien, so maybe that would be a good thing? But all that aside, the chasing through the passageways is quite thrilling. And we do get to see Ripley back in action mode, which is a welcome change up.

But the real question is, is Ripley’s death a triumphant sacrifice (“giving the middle finger to the man” and all that), or the suicide of a broken woman?

I have no doubt the movie wants us to feel like it’s the former, but whether by wrecked storytelling or inadvertent, unintended effect, there’s a lot of the latter mixed in there as well. In my opinion, as I said earlier, it’s a bit of both.

This is not the same heroic ending that, say, Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) gets at the end of Saving Private Ryan, which is also a ”mixed fortune” ending. Miller’s death is clearly the noble sacrifice of a man who had everything to live for. Audiences responded well to this ending. Not so much with Alien 3. In fact, I think the audience reception to Alien 3 would have been positive, even with the death of Newt and Hicks, if only Ripley’s sacrifice had felt much more triumphant, instead of what felt like the relief of death for a woman with no hope for the future.

TC

You're missing the very significant part in the exchange with Dillon where she admits that she "can't do it [herself]", i.e. commit suicide. Even knowing that her death is now unavoidable in a very short time, and resolved to find a way to kill the queen in order to keep it from the company and prevent its destruction being loosed on mankind, she can't bring herself to do it.

Why that is the case is open to interpretation, but to me it speaks of someone who's will to survive is relentless. It's the only thing that got her through the imminent death and increasing despair of the two previous encounters, along with losing her entire life and family as collateral damage, but still she can't let it go. You see it even at the bitter end (at least in the Assembly Cut) where she hesitates on the gantry before finally closing her eyes and letting herself fall.

So again, I think there's a crucial distinction to be made between knowing that your demise is near, and feeling a duty to hasten it in order to save other people and simply feeling suicidal. I don't believe she ever wants to die, even when plummeting into the furnace, but it's an inevitability that she is finally able to accept. As I said earlier, to me she doesn't commit suicide.


Highland
Aug 31, 2021, 04:20:22 AM
Reply #69 on: Aug 31, 2021, 04:20:22 AM
To be fair try writing a happy ending to A3 even without killing her at the end. It doesn't matter what you put in the last 10 minutes when you've run the course of the movie, it wouldn't change it.

Also the bad transition between the Ripley confronting the Alien and going back to Dillon is different ( I can't remember if it's in the audio book , I think it is). It's a bit more fleshed out with her trying to hit the Alien with a pole and some more self dialogue.


Inverse Effect
Aug 31, 2021, 09:36:16 PM
Reply #70 on: Aug 31, 2021, 09:36:16 PM
They should instead go with her daughter or something. I like how Alien Isolation is about her daughter trying to find her mother. Something like that could be made into a movie.


 

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