Film Scene Analysis

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  • Topic: Low-key lighting, Key light, Alien
  • Pages : 3 (881 words )
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  • Published : March 19, 2013
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An analysis of how Ridley Scott creates suspense and tension through the use of sound, cinematography and performance in the air duct scene from “Alien”.

In this scene, we follow the character Dallas (Tom Skerrit) as he searches for the alien in the ships air ducts, whilst communicating with the rest of his crew. At this point the audience are already aware of how dangerous the alien is, as it had already killed Kane (John Hurt) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) Not only this but Dallas had previously asked the ships computer “What are my chances?” referring to killing the alien, and the computer replied “Can not compute” so before the scene has even started suspense is created as the audience fear for Dallas’ life.

Straight away the sound of a diegetic alarm is heard, which immediately gives a sense of panic and fear, this is coupled with a shot of the air lock which has high key lighting, this contrasts with the next shot where the camera zooms out to reveal Ash (Ian Holme) and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in a low key lit room; Although Ash and Ripley aren’t directly in danger the low key lighting still sets a dark and gloomy tone for the rest of the scene. At this point, quiet non-diegetic ominous comes in which again helps set a tense atmosphere, even though Dallas isn’t in the scene yet.

When Dallas is eventually shown making his way into the shaft there is a shot of the hatch closing on him, representing that Dallas is cut off and alone in there with the alien; the repetitive diegetic sound of Dallas on Lambert’s tracker also shows how he is alone at puts the audience at ease as we know the alien isn’t there yet, therefore there is a huge impact later in the scene when the alien is eventually picked up as we know that he is unsafe and is no longer alone. Whilst this is happening Dallas stares through the hatch as it closes, showing to the audience that he doesn’t want to be there, and that something bad could happen to him. As Dallas is crawling through...
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