Alien: 20th Anniversary Edition (1979)
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Ridley Scott (Director)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Isolated Musical Score
Alternate Music/Sound Score
|Year Of Production||1979|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (60:54)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Ridley Scott|
Twentieth Century Fox
Harry Dean Stanton
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Alternate Music/Sound Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Some may also see faint shades of the sexual-mechanics-based artwork that Giger has made his trademark in the various stages of the Alien life cycle. As Ash (Ian Holm) describes, the Alien is a pure survivor, "unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality".
The film begins with Ash and his fellow crew members, Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Kane (John Hurt), Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Parker (Yaphet Kotto), and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) being awoken by Mother (Helen Horton), the Nostromo's central computer. Thinking that they are about to return to Earth for a well-deserved vacation and payment, they soon discover that they have been summoned to investigate a transmission from an unknown source on an unsurveyed planet. Of course, they are unable to contact their home base on Earth for clarification, and unable to refuse because doing so would result in forfeiture of the money they have worked so hard for. As a result, they land on the planet and begin investigating the source of the transmission, with Dallas, Kane, and Lambert forming a small search party whilst the others work to repair damage to their own ship sustained in the landing, and to decipher the transmission.
As Kane happens upon the cargo of the derelict spaceship, he and the other crew members discover a rather nasty organism that breeds by infesting living hosts. It is worth noting that one of the deleted scenes on this DVD reveals what Giger had originally intended to be the breeding method of the Alien: a sort of parasitic cycle in which the eggs absorb a living form and the combination becomes the two-meter tall life form that we see almost halfway into the film.
According to the Alien FAQ, said Alien was portrayed by two men in suits for this original instalment of the series: Bolaji Badejo, the full-scale Alien, who stands at about six feet and seven inches tall (just over two meters), and Eddy Powell, a stuntman who stood at five feet and ten inches. From the same source, it was only due to problems with materials that the Alien wasn't transparent. Unlike most science fiction/horror stories, this one doesn't rely on special effects and sudden shrill noises to deliver its scares, with the real terror sinking into your pores over the period of the whole film. The photographic and effects techniques used to put together the final film are rather crude by today's standards, but much of the impact of the film is at a psychological level, which has not diminished over time.
This is a more than worthy addition to your DVD collection just by virtue of the brilliant visual effects used to create the Alien itself, and the inclusion of deleted scenes is a nice icing on the cake.
The transfer is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.
The image is generally razor-sharp and clean, but a small number of scenes, particularly those involving computer screens aren't quite so well-defined, owing more to the photographic techniques used in the film's production than anything else. The shadow detail is good for a film shot twenty years ago, and there is a surprising amount of detail lurking in the darkness of some sets, which is important to the film itself. Low-level noise was not a problem at any point where it wasn't meant to be.
The colours are very nicely rendered, in spite of the rather limited palette on offer, but the general tones are probably the biggest giveaway to the film's age.
No MPEG artefacts were found at any point in this transfer, and the blurred look of background details in some shots is more the fault of 1978 photographic techniques than anything else. Aliasing was a mild problem at times, but not particularly distracting in most cases, being confined to the edges of objects such as spacecraft models and computer displays, with some fluorescent lights throwing in an occasional contribution for good measure. Film artefacts are where this transfer really excels, as there are far fewer found in this transfer than in more recent ones such as Fortress 2.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change coming in between Chapters 11 and 12, at 60:54. The layer change is only a mild disruption to the flow of the film.
Four soundtracks are included on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, an English Audio Commentary by director Ridley Scott in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding, an Isolated Music Score in Dolby Digital 2.0, and an Alternate Music/Sound Effects track in Dolby Digital 2.0, just for good measure. I listened to all four soundtracks, which took me quite a lot of time.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand for most of the presentation, although there were moments when it became slightly distorted and frequency-limited. Sometimes the dialogue would sound exceptional, and at others, it would sound very dated, which is probably the biggest giveaway to the film's age. Audio sync was never a real problem, although it almost became one from time to time.
The score music in this film was written and composed by Jerry Goldsmith, whom I've never been particularly blown away by. However, this is definitely one of Goldsmith's better efforts, a score that is equally effective in its quiet moments as it is when the orchestra is in full bloom and raring to go. Rather unusually for an event-based score, the music weaves its way into the consciousness of the listener and adds the right degree of tension to the proceedings. It certainly makes a nice change from the larger-than-life militaristic themes prevalent in Aliens.
The surround presence is somewhat variable during this film, which is another giveaway to the age of the film. Early on in the film, there was much use of the surround channels, with all manner of sounds to be heard throughout the soundfield. At other times, the soundtrack collapsed into mono, although most of these moments aren't too noticeable. Special audio effects, most notably the rattling of the chains in the scene where the Alien kills Brett, are rendered with an eerie sort of menace that truly enhances the overall experience of the film.
The subwoofer wasn't called upon very often except to add a floor to some of the sound effects, and even then it wasn't all that noticeable.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is very good for a twenty-year-old film.
The audio quality varies from excellent to average, but is mostly quite good.
The extras are quite comprehensive.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|