Ridley Scott Says The Alien FX Series Will Be 8-10 Hours Long

Started by seattle24, Nov 22, 2021, 09:57:55 AM

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Ridley Scott Says The Alien FX Series Will Be 8-10 Hours Long (Read 7,344 times)

Kradan


BlueMarsalis79

I don't. I just don't think it's nearly as spectacular as many seem to. And sometimes I find the praise somewhat nauseating. But if I take a break from Alien type stuff for a good while I tend to remember how much I really like it.

Kradan

Kradan

#77
I was exaggerating


Quote from: BlueMarsalis79 on Dec 19, 2021, 06:44:36 PM
I don't. I just don't think it's nearly as spectacular as many seem to. And sometimes I find the praise somewhat nauseating

That's kinda exactly how I feel about The Dark Knight

BlueMarsalis79

Also Ripley's hair's awful.

Kradan

Kradan

#79
GTFO

Spoiler


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Immortan Jonesy

He's a visionary, bigger than Ridley $cott


Kradan

Kradan

#81
Isn't it Fincher's quote regarding his feelings towards Alien 3 ?

EDIT: it is. You hack

TC

Quote from: SiL on Dec 18, 2021, 04:43:10 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by saying Alien shouldn't work. Having been to film school, we absolutely studied it - it's not some avant garde art film, it's a pretty paint by numbers haunted house/monster on a spaceship thriller plot with a proper Hollywood treatment. It hits all the beats of the monomyth (which is a very broad framework) and features all sorts of tropes that were common even on release.

Sure, but by empirical reasoning, there has to be something more to it than that otherwise all those other B-movie horrors would have been just as successful. (As long as they were as competently made.) Or is the difference down to H R Giger and Ridley Scott's "eye"? Or perhaps just luck?

In any case, I admit to being a bit disingenuous in drawing a line between fan and film-student. The two are not mutually exclusive. IOW, you can be both fan and film-student at the same time when studying Alien. You can be both fan and film-student at the same time when studying Aliens. The point I was trying to make, however, is that Aliens is a more teachable screenplay than Alien.

I recognise that this is the point of contention between us, but for now I can agree with you on this: Alien is not some avant garde art film. But in terms of screenwriting, I do think it diverges sufficiently from the Hollywood model to give it problems in today's environment.

If you sent the O'Bannon/Hill/Giler script off to a development executive today if would come back (if it came back at all) with all sorts of notes and a "pass" grade ("pass" as in "let's pass on this"). I was listening to a podcast the other day in which someone said that if the Jerry McGuire script was currently doing the rounds it would have been noted to death before it even hit the floor (there's that key scene in which Renee Zellweger leaves Tom Cruise but it's not preceded by a specific event that spells out what he did wrong. Today's script readers and their coverage get very, very picky about these things!).

And what of Alien, what problems do I see in that? There are three main things, which I'll get on to later. First, some things about Joseph Campbell's monomyth:

Quote from: SiL on Dec 18, 2021, 04:43:10 AM
In terms of monomyth storytelling, the biggest difference between the first two films is the characters. There's no mentor in Alien; Aliens gives Ripley Hicks (although Dallas could be argued to fit a similar role). The call is resisted by multiple characters, not just Ripley. Story wise, they both hit the major beats, but Cameron adds the archetypical characters as well.

I believe there are several versions around, and I guess the simplest one could be considered a "broad" framework. If I were to subscribe to any of them as a practical document, it would be this one. The 17 step version is far too prescriptive, almost as bad as one of Blake Snyder's beat sheets. But in general I think you are better off rendering down the stages into the more fundamental tools that drive them.

I'll give you an example: "Refusal of the Call".

I think this is better understood as the "power of contrast." Basically, when your protagonist reaches a decision point, you get more drama out of the decision by having it flip him or her from the furthest opposite state. Say you have two characters you want to fall in love. What you do is begin their relationship by having them dislike each other. That way, come the moment when they finally do hook up, the greater contrast in the changeover gives you more dramatic intensity. (Soap opera writers know this trick and use it all the time.)

And that's what's going on in Refusal of the Call. By refusing first, it gives greater contrast to the moment when they eventually answer it (to "Cross the Threshold"). But the advantage of thinking of it as "power of contrast" is that it becomes a far more general purpose tool. You can use it at any time in your story, not just in the beginning. For example, why does Hugh Grant reject Julia Roberts when she turns up to tell him she's just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her? Everyone in the audience is silently screaming at him to say yes! But he says no. Why? — the power of contrast. Because the following scene is when he realises his mistake and says yes.

So IMHO here are the three main problem areas in the Alien screenplay, and I'm going to compare them with their Aliens equivalents:

1. Long delay in defining who the main protagonist is.

ALIEN - The importance of telling the audience early on who the protagonist is, is that the audience enters the story scanning each of your characters, trying to find the one to emotionally latch on to. This is the key person they are supposed to identify with, align their sympathies with, empathise with. Without your guidance, the audience will find someone to fulfil this role on their own. Possibly the wrong person. The worst thing is if there are no acceptable candidates, therefore no-one for the audience to latch on to—that way leads to an emotionally distanced audience. You don't want that.

The protagonist seems to be Dallas, since he is the decision maker. He is the most proactive. Proactive characters use their wilfulness to shape the plot. A weak protagonist is one who gets pushed around by circumstance, who only reacts to events as they are inflicted upon him or her. This is not a good thing. As an audience, we want to identify with strong personalities. Ripley doesn't become the protagonist until Dallas gets killed. That's maybe 80 minutes into the story. Far too late.

ALIENS - Of course, Cameron gets a boost here by riding on the coat-tails of the first film. We already know walking into the theatre that this is going to be about Ellen Ripley.

2. Ripley is unsympathetic.

ALIEN - Ripley, we will learn, is the real protagonist of the story. But early on she comes across as cold-hearted. No-one likes her. She is the one with the longest stick up her ass. In the situation of Kane's emergency, she is the one that resorts to the rule book to block his rescue. Dallas, Lambert, and Ash do the humanitarian thing and try to rush Kane inside. You can argue that this is because Ripley is the only smart one in the crew, but in story terms we want our protagonist to make heroic acts of self-sacrifice. In this case, it's easy to believe that Ripley's actions are one of self-preservation.

ALIENS - First of all, we know from the end of the previous film that Ripley saved the cat. This makes her an OK gal. She also expresses pain at the loss of her crewmates, and concern for the jeopardy of the shake 'n' bake colonists. We also see that she suffers greatly at the plight of her daughter. Knowing all this, any audience that refuses to engage their sympathies with her is (what can I say?) simply dead inside.

3. Ill-defined wants and needs.

ALIEN - Ripley has no back story, nothing to give her an underpinning psychology. None of the characters do, but since Ripley is the main protagonist, this emptiness in her characterisation is most keenly felt.

There are two key features in a full characterisation that are often referred to as "wants" and "needs" (also known as "conscious" and "subconscious desires"). A "want" is the goal that the protagonist is actively in pursuit of (Kyle Reece wants to protect Sarah Conner). A "need" is a deeper, subconscious desire to correct a flaw or deficiency in the protagonist's life (Reece needs an emotional connection). Once that flaw is corrected, the protagonist completes their arc and becomes a better, more complete person.

What are Ripley's wants and needs? She wants to survive the alien. And her need is... what? In what way is she a better person at the end of the movie than she is at the beginning? No way.

ALIENS - Ripley's want: She wants to destroy the aliens. Ripley's need: She needs redemption for the abandonment of her daughter.

But as we all know, Alien is a highly successful film, well known and loved down through the ages. So we know these problems (if they are real; they're just my opinions after all) didn't do much to harm it. Why not?

Ridley Scott thought he knew and went ahead and made Prometheus based on that knowledge. All I have are some guesses. But I've written enough already so that's a post for another day.

TC

Immortan Jonesy

Jesus! TC, you posted in text what I do in 1 month  :o

Edit - That was not a criticism, in fact it is great when the members demonstrate such knowledge.  ;D

Quote from: Kradan on Dec 20, 2021, 06:50:36 AM
Isn't it Fincher's quote regarding his feelings towards Alien 3 ?

EDIT: it is. You hack


Xiggz456


SiL

Quote from: TC on Dec 20, 2021, 02:18:24 PM
Sure, but by empirical reasoning, there has to be something more to it than that otherwise all those other B-movie horrors would have been just as successful.
Execution is everything. Two films with similar plots can have very different outcomes.

QuoteThe point I was trying to make, however, is that Aliens is a more teachable screenplay than Alien.
And my point is people are taught Alien in schools.

QuoteIf you sent the O'Bannon/Hill/Giler script off to a development executive today if would come back (if it came back at all) with all sorts of notes and a "pass" grade ("pass" as in "let's pass on this").
This really doesn't mean anything. You can say this about many of the greatest films ever made, whose screenplays are the foundation of many screenwriting courses.

Quote1. Long delay in defining who the main protagonist is.
This isn't a problem. Alien is an example of an ensemble cast, something still very much used today, and is taught as such. The roles and responsibilities of the protagonist are split amongst the characters.

Quote2. Ripley is unsympathetic.
Ripley comes across unsympathetic to other characters, but the audience sympathises with - or at least understands - her. We get that she's by the books and trying to do the right thing, even if it's not always the emotionally appealing option. Protagonists don't need to be likeable; that's a common misconception.

Quote3. Ill-defined wants and needs.
...

What are Ripley's wants and needs? She wants to survive the alien. And her need is... what? In what way is she a better person at the end of the movie than she is at the beginning? No way.
Ripley wants to be a good officer and follow the rules. Ripley needs to survive. She's a better person at the end of the movie when she realises "f**k the company" and stops trying to protect WY assets or her job and focuses on survival at all costs.

Mr. Clemens

Yeah that was a great post, but in my opinion, those three 'problem areas' are what elevate Alien above similar films in the genre.

SiL

The thing that would actually hinder Alien today is its speed. It takes a while to kind of get to the point - but that's mostly in how it's filmed and edited. The script actually moves along at a good place, has a well rounded cast of characters, and some great horror set pieces.

Some dialogue would probably be trimmed from the first act to get to the hugger and burster quicker, that's really about it. Otherwise Alien very much ticks all of the boxes of an appealing modern movie.

Immortan Jonesy

I wish Noah cast Willem Dafoe to play a Paul Church-like character.


TC

Quote from: Mr. Clemens on Dec 20, 2021, 10:48:44 PM
Yeah that was a great post, but in my opinion, those three 'problem areas' are what elevate Alien above similar films in the genre.

I think it's the Risk Vs Reward conundrum. You can play it safe and follow the rules, er, principles, or you can do something just a little different and if it pays off, it pays off big.

Or you could see it the way those American Idol judges used to evaluate a performance: If you choose a simple song in a plain arrangement, you need to pull it off perfectly in order to score decent enough points.

TC

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