ANALYSIS OF THE ALIEN QUADROLOGY
Within the first installment of the Alien quadrology, two female characters are present onboard the Nostromo spacecraft. Signourney Weaver's character, Ripley becomes established towards the end of the movie where she begins to take on the masculine traits which she has become famous for within the trology. Her role in the film was originally written for a man , but Ridley Scott, the director of the film, decided that weaver was best suited to the role. It was only after this film that women were being used in high profile roles in Star Trek films.
To those who watch the film having not seen it before, it does not appear as though Ripley is going to be the lone survivor of the spacecraft. This subverts the conventions as her role is mainly associated with the male sex.
Within the first thirty minutes, when nothing much happens, she comes accross and just an ordinary woman, but as the film progresses and becomes more chaotic, she begins to reveal her masculine side. Her role makes us feel worried for her because as a woman, she seems more vunerable in a dangerous environment. Of course, it takes viewers by surprise when she is the only one left standing, especially due to the fact that we expect the more established charater at the time to be the survivor (Tom Skerritt).
In the sequel to 'Alien', Ripley is found on a crash site, having been in 'hyper sleep' for around 50 years. When awakened from 'hyper sleep', she is rehabilitated before informing the U.S Marines that she encountered supernatural life-forms in outer-space. Of course they do not believe this right away. This may reflect the social attitudes towards women in society, as a stereotype is that they are not taken as seriously as men. Eventually, she convinces the marines to travel to a colony on another planet to see what they find. She is backed up by about twelve men and one other woman, all wielding large machine guns and flame throwers.
The female member of the marines is named 'Vasquez' and as a woman, does not look out of place at all, amongst the men. This is due to her male traits, including her stance/posture, army costume, largely built body and short hair. Also, her gun is different to everyone else's. She is holding a large flame-thrower, making her slightly more superioir to the rest of the group. Her gun, which symbolises a male phallic symbol, reinforces her masculine image. She is portrayed as rough, aggressive, and also brave, especially when she sacrifices her life to save others.
Ripley, whilst possessing most of Vasquez's male traits also shows a sensitive side to her in this film. Within' the film, Ripley encounters a girl named Newt, a survivor amongst the Alien infested colony. Ripley becomes emotionally attached to the girl and this threfore introduces a 'mother & daughter' type relationship. This is used to contrast her more aggressive, dominant side.
Ripley's portrayal in the previous two films is near enough the same within this film, but she has taken her masculinity a step further by shaving her hair off. Also, she dresses in army-like clothing, and swears quite often, therfore reinforcing her masculine image. Being the only woman on board means that she is looked down upon by the male prisoners. Like in 'Alien' and 'Aliens', she progresses from being a vunerable woman in a dangerous, male dominated environment, to being the leader of the group and taking charge in chaotic situations.
This film is slightly different to the rest of the 'Alien' films in the sense that it features two female stars, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, and Winona Ryder as Annalee Call. Ripley is probably at her most masculine within this movie than the rest of the Alien films. For example, she is seen playing a game of basketball on the spaceship, a sport mainly associated with the male sex. When a male crew member tries to challenge her at a game, she proves too good for him. He then proceeds to make a sexual remark to her. This scene may portray the fact that women are climbing higher up the ladder, but are still just seen as sex objects. However, she is still not taken seriously by male members of the crew when she states that they are all going to die whilst the Aliens are on board. This scene, like in 'Aliens', reflects the social attitudes towards women, as a stereotype is that they're not taken as seriously as men are.
Winona Ryder is conventional for a modern day sci-fi as she is both young and attractive. Her attitude is established at the start of the film where she uses aggresive language, but unlike Ripley, she does not possess the male gaze. She is more feminine than masculine. She is talked down upon by certain male members of the crew. For example, one person tells ther that she ''has no authority here''. The scene in which she gets shot but then comes back to life may connote the fact that, as mentioned in the last paragraph, women are climbing higher up the ladder in society and breaking through the glass ceiling.
Whilst all Alien films feature Ripley with a masculine attitude, this has become more reinforced with each sequel. For example, in Alien 3, she takes her masculine side a step further than the pre-sequel by shaving her hair off. This reflects how women have progressed further and further in society as time has gone by. However, in all four films, there hasn't been one scene where she is not talked down upon, or not taken seriously, meaning that women have not yet caught up with men in present day society.