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Posts Tagged ‘Ridley Scott’

5. Marie Antoinette

Director: Sofia Copola

Production Designer: K.K. Barrett

In 2006, young Sofia Copola (Lost in Translation) brought to the table of cinema a very different portrayal of one of history’s most notorious characters in a world of pastels, gold, pastries and excess. Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst in the namesake role, is a cinematic treat both for the eye and for the soul. Namely because it is one of the first and only sympathetic portrayals of the young French monarch, Marie Antoinette, and her arranged marriage to the equally young, equally naive Louis Auguste XVI. Criticized largely for its historical inaccuracies (despite being hailed by many in France as one of the better portrayals of Antoinette and winning multiple palms at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006) as well as for its long-winded second act, Marie Antoinette was only a moderate success at the box office, but visually, it is a treat unlike any other. Granted the privilege of being one of the few films allowed to shoot at the Palace of Versailles, the film has an insane oppulence to it that is scarcely seen even in period pieces. This is partially because of the palace/grounds itself and the historical scope it offers, but it is also attributable to Sofia Copola’s vision to purposefully deviate from history and interject colors, styles, motifs, palettes, music and language that admittedly would never have existed (or at least allowed in royal court) in late 1700s France. This clash of the historical and the modern, specifically in a period piece, creates such a subconsciously juxtaposed visual that it is hard not be awed by the sheer magnitude of what Copola is presenting. Add insanely designed pastries to boot and you’ve got a film that is as visually yummy as it is long…

3 Scenes to watch:

Copyright Columbia Pictures 2006

(Left: The Coronation, Middle: The Birthday Party, Right: The Hand-off)

Copyright 20th Century Fox

6. Alien

Director: Ridley Scott

Production Designer: Michael Seymour, Roger Christian (uncredited) and H.R. Giger

“In Space…No One Can Hear You Scream”

Alien. The 1979 science-fiction, low-budget horror film that arrested the minds and the hearts of theatergoers the world over. It’s almost ludicrous to even describe the plot it is so well known in modern culture…and for good reason. The story revolves around the towing ship Nostromo and its ship board computer “mother” that wakes up the crew from cryo-sleep with months until they reach Earth so that they will, according to protocol, investigate a distress signal sent from LV-426, a desolate planet devoid of life.  Aided by last-minute crew addition Ash, the doomed crew lands on LV-426 where they trace the signal to an abandoned, behemoth spacecraft. Yet, while 3 members of the crew search the derelict ship, they discover a massive, fossilized alien, named the “space jockey”,  whose ribs have been blasted open from the inside out, while all the while, back on the ship, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has been decoding the original message only to discover that it is, in fact, a warning to stay away from the planet. Ash convinces her that it is too late to warn the other crew members and she believes him, the crew aboard the ship searching the cavernous recesses of the craft only to find a chamber of leathery eggs that respond when a layer of protective mist is disturbed…the egg unravels, a hideous arachnoid creature attaches itself to the face of one of the crew and hours later, an alien xenomorph explodes from the chest of the doomed crew member…the rest, as they say, is cinematic history. A history it owes to the claustrophobic and nightmare inducing designs of the production designers and they’re inspiration, HR Giger. From the hyper-sexual design of the Alien itself and the derelict space ship to the claustrophoic, dark corridors of the Nostromo, the entire film is a psychologically visual mind game.  Playing on the human mind’s psychosexual nature and the primal fears of the hunter versus the hunted.

Whether it be the wondrous cyberpunk interiors or the heart pounding, beacon filled, steam ridden finale of the Nostromo self-destruct sequence, Alien is a creature-feature unlike anything the world has ever seen and to this day, it still, despite many attempts, has yet to be duplicated…

3 Scenes to Watch:

Copyright 20th Century Fox

(Left: Derelict Spaceship, Middle: Nostromo Self-destruct sequence, Right: Nostromo Cryo wake-up)

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Photo Courtesy of Hitfix.com

Long held have been the rumors of a new Alien movie, with speculation flying as to what the film would be about and perhaps more interestingly, when the film would take place. However, it was not until today that Ridley Scott announced he would once again helm the franchise that launched his Oscar-laden career and bring forth from Hollywood the only respectable Alien film since James Cameron’s Aliens. Let the drooling begin…

During a press junket today promoting his new film “Robin Hood”, Ridley Scott finally confirmed and released the first set of official details surrounding the new film, which he confirms will indeed be a prequel set 30 years before the Nostromo crew ever landed on LV-426:

“It’s set in 2085, about 30 years before Sigourney [Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley]. It’s fundamentally about going out to find out ‘Who the hell was that Space Jockey?’ The guy who was sitting in the chair in the alien vehicle — there was a giant fellow sitting in a seat on what looked to be either a piece of technology or an astronomer’s chair … Our man [Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas] climbs up and says “There’s been an explosion in his chest from the inside out — what was that?” I’m basically explaining who that Space Jockey — we call him the Space Jockey — I’m explaining who the space jockeys were … [The film] is about the discussion of terraforming — taking planets and planetoids and balls of earth and trying to terraform, seed them with the possibilities of future life.”
The geek inside of me just jizzed in his pants. Of course, the rumors concerning the possible space jockey storyline have been bouncing around the internet since Scott first mentioned the prequel about a year ago in a comment made at the San Diego Comic-Con. That news is practically prehistoric now, and if what Scott is saying is true, then the possibility of the Alien prequel beginning to shoot before the year is out is looking like an excellent possibility, if not a downright certainty.

Photo Courtesy of Hitfix.com

It’s good to hear that the creator is returning to his creation, but Scott didn’t stop there, he apparently has been in talks with original Alien designer H.R. Giger to come up with something different, sighting that while the now iconic Xenomorph is the original, “The alien in a sense, as a shape, is worn out.” I would have to agree. The Xenomorph does not hold the terror it once held purely out of exhaustion of the creature (4 films, 2 AVP films, countless video games, comics, etc.).  But a new alien? Can it be that will not see the beloved and feared Xenomorph in Scott’s new film?

Possibly. But with Scott at the helm and Giger at the drawing board, it seems the dream team is back. The biggest hurdle? Inserting an organic twist into the prequel that matches the genius of the Ash storyline. If Scott can pull that off, he may just reboot the franchise for generations to come. If not, then the only thing audiences will be saying is:”Game over man, Game over”.

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