It was in 1979 that the nightmare began, when the spaceship the Nostromo landed on an unknown planet to answer a rescue message and later explore an abandoned vessel. That's where the crew met for the first time a creature as deadly as beautiful, the Alien. This creature and it's environment, created by the talented Swiss artist H. R. Giger, were the main antagonists from the movie >, directed by Ridley Scott and featuring Sigourney Weavers the only survivor of the Nostromo crew when the Alien penetrated it. This movie was the first chapter of a cult saga still active these days.
From the four movies featuring the Aliens, the third one is considered as the worst one. Eventhough it's visual quality was exceptional, it's poor scenario deceived most Alien fans throughout the world, leaving not much place for improvement for a forth movie. But most people don't know that the critically acclaimed cyberpunk author William Gibson wrote an alternative scenario to Alien^3, much more researched, focusing on future technology and human contacts rather than on explosions and gratuitous violence. Both Alien^3 and Gibson's script have a similar opening, where the audience learns that a Face-Hugger (a crab / spider -like creature whose function is to implement an embryo inside a chest cavity from a living organism) has been able to hide in the Sulaco, the ship with which Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Hicks (an injured marine soldier), Newt (a 12 years old girl) and Bishop (an android seriously damaged) escaped from the Alien colony in the previous movie, Aliens. But this similarity between the to scripts is maybe the only one. From now on, the two stories will take completely different courses.
In Alien^3, an electric malfunction (usually attributed to the Face-Hugger) causes the ship to crash on a planet called Fiorina 161 containing a disaffected mining colony now used as a high-security prison. This leads to predictable, violent, confrontations between Ripley (the only survivor from the crash) and the prisoners. From now on, the viewers knows that the movie will be based on sexist debates and on useless violence. However, in Gibson's version, the Sulaco does not crash on a planet but rather continues on it's original path but with a small deviation. This deviation makes the ship enter an area claimed by the Union of Progressive Peoples, o rUPP, a somewhat clear analogy to the late USSR. It is rumored that this similarity contributed to the demise of Gibson's script.
The presence of a political force in the story would have been the first apparition of any kind of political debates in all the Aliens movies. And at the same time, the audience learns that there's not only one powerful government controlling the world, but at least two of them, and maybe more. This shows that Gibson wanted to have new possibilities for the story. From now on, the rest of the story will not be based only on the survival skills of the protagonists in hostile environments as in the other movies, but more on human debates and political arguments. Infact, most part of the story is unfolding on an immense ship called the Anchorpoint.
The Anchorpoint is a big permanent station, where there are people living, there are malls. It's like a small city in space. Then a Commando composed of three soldiers infiltrated the Sulaco and discovered an egg, rooted in Bishop " stor so. A Face-Hugger attacked The Commando, killing the leader and the remaining soldiers left with Bishop's truncated body. As the story unfolds, the spectators discovers that the Queen (the Alien in charge of laying eggs which contains Face-Huggers) which boarded the Sulaco in Aliens somehow deposited genetic material in the ship, causing two more Aliens to attack the second Commando which boarded the Sulaco.
This scene is one of the most important because of it's consequences on the story. In this part, as the battle rages on in the Sulaco, Ripley gets terribly burned by a soldier who was trying to cremate an Alien with a flame-thrower. So Ripley will not be active throughout the rest of the story because she lies in a coma, making this movie the first one where Ripley is not the leading character. Another very important difference between the two stories is the supporting characters.
In Alien^3, most of the prisoners are against Ripley, she is really the most important character from all the movie. But in Gibson's version, there are a lot of new characters very important to the story. Each new character plays a different, small role in the action. Most of them are useful against the Aliens and they have their own personality. The story is more based on the characters personalities than on their physical capabilities. But, strangely enough, one of the most important character of Aliens, Newt, is sent back to earth to see her grand parents.
She does not play any important role in the story. As soon as Hicks and Newt are in good shape the movie ambiance takes a different turn. Advanced technology is used more often and not only as gadgets as in most science fiction movies. Technology takes a more and more important part of the plot as the story unfolds. This is a major difference with Alien^3, which was more primitive, there were no weapons and nothing was automated, almost everything was mechanical.
First of all, the UPP recovers all the data about the new species stored in Bishop's brain, erase any kind of genetic material left on his body and recreates his legs using some cheap materials. After that, Bishop's memory is altered so that he does not remember his visit to the UPP ships and he is sent back to the Sulaco. Then they plan to use their newfound friends (the Aliens) to create a new kind of weaponry, or the >. The same thing is happening at the Anchorpoint, there are a lot of scientists working on the Aliens and trying to find something useful to do with them. In fact, they are working directly on their DNA, at some point in the story they a retrying to find a way to combine an human DNA with an Alien DNA to fight cancer. That's where the > begins, where the Aliens become dangerous.
The scientists then discover that the Alien DNA automatically combines with human DNA to create a hybrid of the two species. But what is fascinating about this discovery is that this transformation occurs very quickly, in matter of seconds. But an accident happens and two scientists are splashed with organic fluids. For the moment everything is correct, they get decontaminated and they go back to work. But later, as they are talking in a meeting with their superiors, one of the two scientists (which are important characters to the story) begins to mutate. In a very short period of time the scientist's skin disappears, tendons growing from beneath the skin, leaving place to an exoskeleton just like the Alien's shells.
The physical and mental properties of the victim is disappears completely and a new species is born in less than a minute. This scene is a very important chapter of the story since it creates a completely new creature, and this creature will change the way the audience see the Aliens for all the movies to come. It adds a new twist to the action since the new > is not fastest, more powerful and reproduces very quickly. In fact, the new Queen's reproduction method is by launching spores in the atmosphere. So now anybody that breathes these spores will be contaminated. And if it was not enough, more than one Chest-Buster (the second phase of the Alien's life, it " sat this stage that the embryo living in the chest cavity of the victim is > the chest of the unlucky carrier) is created at a time.
This part of the story is very, very different from the Alien^3's plot, there are so much new possibilities to come with the Aliens. But such possibilities are impossible according to the original story. The rest of the story is more or less an action packed sequence, where there are dozens of Aliens and Soldiers dying. The important facts to know are that only Bishop, Hicks and some soldiers survive the inevitable nuclear explosion of the Anchorpoint (as in most movies, the infested environment is destroyed), and that Hicks have sent Ripley's hospital bed in a rescue ship to the earth with map to Newt's house. William Gibson's script is very different from the actual Alien^3 script. Technology plays a crucial role in the story, as well as human foolishness.
But a thing that will probably never change in all the Aliens movies, including Alien^3, is the fascination the Army has for the (scientific name for the Aliens). In all the movies, there are always been someone, human or android, trying to discover how the creature functions. This is the only similarity beside the characters in all the movies. But this similarity is present in many science fiction movies, by example E. T. Maybe it is in human's nature to always want to have more and more knowledge...
Movies cited Alien. Dir. Ridley Scott. 20 th Century Fox. With Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm and John Hurt. 1979 Aliens.
Dir. James Cameron. 20 th Century Fox. WithSigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Lance Henriksen and Michael Bien.
1986 Alien^3. Dir. David Fincher. 20 th Century Fox. WithSigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, and Brian Glover.
1992 E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Dir. Steven Spielberg.
Universal. With Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore and Robert Mcnaughton. 1982 Movie Script Gibson, William. Alien III, Revised first draft screenplay from a story by David Giles and Walter Hill. Unknown date, Not published.