On Film

Stephen Mulhall
ISBN:
9780203928523

Few movies of recent times have caught and shocked our imagination as the Alien cinematic quartet and the quest of Sigourney Weaver's Flight Lieutenant Ellen Ripley. In this gripping and lucidly written book, Mulhall shows why these films fascinate us, by showing that they are compelling examples of philosophy in action. Bringing a philosopher's eye to cinema, he argues that the Alien films take us deep into the question of what it is to be human. By developing the sexual significance of the aliens themselves and of Ripley's resistance to them, these films explore the relation of human identity to the body, in the context of a hyper-Darwinian universe which both sharpens and subverts the distinction between the natural and the technological, and which pits the hope of redemption against nihilism. The book also considers the nature of "sequeldom" in contemporary cinema. What is the relation between each Alien movie's distinctive plot and the overarching narrative of the Alien universe? How does the work of each director who has contributed to the series relate to the themes of their other films, such as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, James Cameron's Terminator and David Fincher's Se7en? Read More Show Less Editorial Reviews From the Publisher 'Stephen Mulhall's On Film presents an always engaging, often provocative, and occasionally brilliant philosophical investigation of the "Alien" quartet of science-fiction/action/horror films initiated in 1979 with Ridley Scott's eponymous classic... there is little doubt that Mulhall's metaphysical contentions will be referenced, quoted, and engaged with by other authors in subsequent work on science fiction cinema.' - Steven Jay Schneider, Aesthetics Online 'As a study showing how this particular film quartet thematizes deep metaphysical and existential eissues the book succeeds in an admirable manner, and makes for a thought-provoking read. It is clear, accessible and engaging, and thus certainly fulfills the aims of the series it appears in' - Simo Saatela, Uppsala University, Philosophy in Review 'The themes he identifies as central - most crucially, a concern with human embodiment and thus, with both human generativity and mortality - are explored convincingly, even brilliantly at times...Despite the amount of closely argued material which is packed into a relatively short book, the clarity and precision of the writing make it something of a page- turner' - Deborah Thomas, European Journal of Communication 'Mulhall's philosophical discussion of each film is highly stimulating. His discussion of the aliens' pure, blind viciousness in the service of their drive for parasitic reproduction, as introduced in Alien, is illuminating. The representation of the impregnated humans as victims of their own flesh and blood, their bodies rendered alien to themselves, shows how the film deftly explores what it is to be human. .. provocative and engaging book which makes for stimulating reading for anyone interested in both film and philosophy.' - Matthew Kieran, Philosophical Books

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