NOTE: Here is an article I wrote some 15 years ago about the movie “Alien.” Some people have been asking me about it, but have not been able to find it on the Web — so here it is:
By Ken Korczak
Ridley Scott’s masterpiece was released in 1979 is a dark warning that technology is bad, cannot be trusted, and may kill us all. But even more so, twisted within this technological nightmare, are monsters of the ID, Freud’s famous repository of the primitive, violent, sexual impulses of man.
From beginning to end, “Alien” features one technological betrayal after another, each one producing trouble, disaster or death. Time and again, the doomed heroes of the film turn to technology to save their hides, but are doubled-crossed by their own machines just about every time.
The alien monster itself is Freudian nightmare, and a powerful symbol of evil technology. It was designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger. His style is described as biomechanical. This is significant because the monster seems to represent the ultimate mixing of biology and technology — and ever since Frankenstein, writers have been leery of mixing Mother Nature with science.
But mostly, biomechanical alien creature has also has been heavily imbued with Freudian characteristics. It’s head is long and penis shaped. Inside its large banana head is another, smaller penis-shaped organ. The creature kills with this penis-like projection, which comes thrusting our of a jaw oozing white slime that looks like … well, you know what.
The Freudian symbolism is rich everywhere in the movie. The entrance to the crashed alien vessel looks like a big vagina, which lead to “eggs” inside. The slimy spider-monster that that springs forward from the egg attacks a man by sticking a long organ down his throat. This unholy union results in the man being impregnated with a baby monster, which — surprise! — looks like a penis with metal teeth. It gets itself born by thrusting out of his host’s chest in a violent eruption of blood and gore.
The little monster scampers away and everyone is horrified. The crew turn to technology to help them track down the little beast — they use motion detectors and scanners with blips that key on movement, but the darn things constantly malfunction, or pick up the wrong thing, such as the ship’s free-roaming cat, Jones.
In just a few hours the little penis monster grows into a gigantic, biomechanical lizard. Again, the Freudian symbolism is plentiful. The crew finds discarded sheaths of skin, which look like giant used condoms, of the ribbed variety. Like a snake, the monster sheds its skin to grow. For Freud, a snake was a primary penis symbol.
All grown up, the monster runs amok on the ship, killing the crew one by one. Then when the second-in-command, Ellen Ripley, turns to the chief science officer for help — guess what? It turns out he’s an evil robot that only looks like a human being! He’s a mechanical man, yet another unfaithful machine!
That the science officer is a symbol of man’s illicit union with technology is tough to deny. He is literally a machine that is indistinguishable from a human being. He’s like a halfway point between what man is, and what he is becoming, which is represented by the alien itself.
In the movie, the robotic science officer goes berserk, and even though he is a robot he is loaded with very human, Freudian lusts.
If you don’t believe me, consider this scene: The robot attacks Ripley, a strong, domineering female character. After knocking her unconscious, he rolls up a porno magazine into a tube and start shoving it into her mouth.
There certainly is a lot of elongated objects going into mouths, coming out of mouths and going down throats in this flick!
If the robot was not shoving a penis symbol into Ripley’s mouth, then just what was he doing? Why didn’t he just bash her in the head with a blunt instrument if he wanted to be done with her?
Now yet another classic Freudian moment: As things get desperate, Ripley turns to the ship’s computer for help, and the computer’s name just happens to be “Mother.” As it turns out, Mother is in on the whole conspiracy to kill her own “children!” I can hear Sigmund cheering from his grave!
Later, Ripley tries to blow up the ship to kill the beast within, but then needs more time to make her own escape in a lifeboat. She tell “Mother” that she has turned off the self-destruct command, but “Mother” turns a deaf ear and keep the countdown going. Ripley explodes with rage and screams at Mother: “You bitch!”
The last human left, Ripley sprints to the escape pod and prepares to blast away from the Mother ship, but suddenly realizes that she has forgotten one extremely important crew member behind — the ship’s cat!
Yes, in an amazing moment of Freudian clarity, Ripley, the she-man realizes that she has left her PUSSYcat behind, and now she must save it, or die trying.
This she does. She finds her PUSSYcat and places it in a “box” . She gets to the escape pod with her rescued PUSSYcat tucked into her new “box.” She is about to cast off and let “Mother” die — only to realize that the giant penis-lizard has snookered her again. It jumped into the escape pod with her while she was out saving her PUSSYcat.
The creatures emerges from a hidden tangle of machinery which it blends in with beautifully, and moves in on Ripley. But Ripley straps herself in, and guess what? — she grabs a large, penis-like projective and loads it into a spear gun. She shoots the arrow into the monster’s midsection. The beast is thrust out through an open door into cold space. The creature tries to cling to the escape ship, but Ripley finishes him off with the afterburners. Then Ripley watches as Mother dies in a spectacular explosion in space.
After Ripley kills “her Mother”, the final scene shows her climbing into a freeze-sleep chamber with her PUSSYcat. The sleep chamber looks for all the world like a new, comfortable womb — and Ripley is snug inside with her newly rescued PUSSYcat.
From beginning to end, Alien is a movie which warns that technology is bad, and that despite all our scientific achievements, humans cannot escape their primitive Oedipal complexes.
It’s interesting that the main character, Ripley, has a name so similar to that of the movie’s director, Ridley Scott. A coincidence, or an attempt for Scott to work through his own Freudian issues?
It makes you wonder.
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THE MAN IN THE NOTHING CHAMBER BY KEN KORCZAK