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Young, R.M. (1994). Alien3. Free Associations, 4(3):447-453.

(1994). Free Associations, 4(3):447-453


Robert M. Young

We sense from the very beginning that the Alien is inside Warrant Officer Ripley, the androgynous heroine, played for the third time by Sigourney Weaver. We get glimpses of it during the credits. Anyone who has seen either of the earlier films in this series — Ridley Scott's classic Alien (1979) or Richard Donner's Aliens (1986) — will be sure; others will suspect when they see the creature on her face as she sleeps, cocooned in the space shuttle. Even so, for much of the film we join with her in searching for it — suspecting that it somehow got into the shuttle and killed her companions — and in her growing conviction that it is the cause of the unexplained deaths in the bleak, all-male penal colony on the planet where they land — Fiorina 161, ‘the rat's ass end of space’. She is cast in the Cassandra role, with the uphill task of getting people to believe her. This is eventually dealt with in short order: as the head jailer is reassuring the inmates that her story is ludicrously fantastic, the creature reaches down an aid shaft and jerks him away in an instant.

Her self-knowledge comes in stages. First she has a suspicion from an acid burn on the capsule. (The aliens' bodily juices can dissolve anything. They are universal solvents of everything but the creatures themselves.) Then she searches in the corpse of Newt, the young girl she thought she had rescued. Doing an autopsy on a loved one distresses her greatly: ‘Open the chest’.

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