In what ways could "Alien" be regarded as an allegory?
Alien as an allegory seems most evident during the scene in which the creature erupts from the stomach of Kane, whose name reminds the viewer of the Biblical account of Cane and Abel. This would be a reaffirmation of Judeo-Christian theology, that evil is foreign or 'alien' to human design, but through our curiosity, we invite the evil into ourself which is then born into a terrible monster that brings our death (a la "Paradise Lost"). This is also a supported interpretation because the curiosity about the signal leads the crew onto the alien spacecraft, which is like Adam and Eve who ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge.
What are the implications of the main character's being a female as opposed to a male?
This question is further emphasized by the computer's nickname, Mother. This might be interpretted in a way that allows for feminist readings. Sigourney Weaver's role as a strong female character parallels Mary Shelley's Frankenstein which has long been cited as an important feminist story, heralding the importance of women. In Alien, the question is furthered by details such as the monster's being born from a man's stomach, as opposed to birth from a woman as would be naturalistic. This could be an argument for the dangers associated with women's removal from influence (cf. Ash's override of what is easily recognizable as a good decision.)
What are the effects of the horror genre achieved in Alien? That is, what is the goal of scary movies and how is that achieved through the film?
This question has moralistic implications. It would involve the writers and director intending a moral lesson in the film and then affecting it in the viewers. It does seem that Alien can be easily interpretted in a moralistic way, i.e., with a goal in mind for the audience. An interesting essay on this point might incorporate comparisons with Aristotle's discussion about tragedy and the emotions it elicits.
Discuss the post-modernist/existential aspects of this film.
Artistic film has never been far from philosophy, and Alien is no exception. The movie contains a brilliant discussion from Ash, a man who is in fact not essentially a man, but a robot created to achieve corporate gain (himself being a very full example of existentialist issues), who makes a challenging argument for the Alien as the hero of the story. He is essentially heralding the Alien as a Nietzschean anti-hero, above morally and powerful enough to get what he wants. Combine that with the Alien's quazi-human origins, and there are some interesting implications to explore.
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