Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerrit, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The first media in the Alien franchise, the film focuses on a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature that gets aboard a haulage spacecraft, where it begins stalking and killing its crew. Dan O’Bannon wrote the screenplay from a story by him and Ronald Shusett, drawing influence from previous works of science fiction and horror. Producers David Giler and Walter Hill later made significant revisions and additions to the script, although they were not credited for their contributions. The movie was primarily filmed at Shepperton Studios near London, England, and was produced through Brandywine Productions and distributed by 20th Century Fox.
The titular Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger, while concept artists Ron Cobb and Chris Foss designed the human aspects of the film. Alien garnered both critical acclaim and box office success, receiving an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Scott, and Best Supporting Actress for Cartwright, and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, along with numerous other award nominations. It has remained highly praised in subsequent decades, being inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2002 for historical preservation as a film which is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant“.
In 2008 it was ranked as the 7° best film in the science fiction genre by the American Film Institute, and as the 33° greatest movie of all time by Empire magazine. The success of Alien spawned a media franchise of novels, comic books, video games, and toys, as well as three sequel and two prequel films. It launched Weaver‘s acting career by providing her with her first lead role, and the story of her character Ripley‘s encounters with the Alien creatures became the thematic thread that ran through the film sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992) and Alien Resurrection (1997). The film also led to two crossover movies with the Predator franchise, Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), as well as a prequel series comprising Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017).
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