Triumphant Technology and Minimal Man

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Matheson, T. J. "Triumphant Technology and Minimal Man: The Technological Society, Science Fiction Films, and Ridley Scott's Alien. Extrapolation 33.3 (Fall 1992): [215]-229.

Mentions a number of films from METROPOLIS through [2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY|2001]] and on to the STAR WARS saga, but mainly a humanistic close reading of ALIEN (film), relating the film to J. Ellul's The Technological Society. Argues that there is no fundamentally affirming and positive attitude in ALIEN, a case also made, Matheson notes, in J. O., Telotte's "Human Artifice and the Science Fiction Film" (Film Quarterly 36 [1983]: 4-51). Alien's characters, taken together, illustrate Ellul's basic theme that "the technological milieu absorbs the natural." TJM sees Alien and Ellul suggesting that technology is an amoral source of problems, and not ultimately an uplifting source of solutions. TJM concludes that Alien can be read "as an extensive delineation in cinema of the major concerns encountered in The Technological Society. Both works contain telling analyses of the degree to which technology has undermined man's belief in the importance of his humanity" (227). Comments usefully on the high-tech mise en scène and Ripley's search for Jones, the ship's cat; offers interesting speculation on just why the Company would want the Alien, and why the Nostromo would have a self-destruct mechanism. Caution: The essays is both ingenious and overly brief in interpreting the burial in space of Kane (223), and the notes are a little misleading on the nature of CW (118).[1]

(RFS, 27/04/95; RDE, 10/01/93, 3Jan15)