Episode 15: Alien

original poster for the 1979 movie alien -- black background with alien egg in the middle, which is cracking open in glowing green light. Tagline: In space no one can hear you scream.
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Joe and Mark are joined by Tim Blackmore, an author and professor at Western University’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies, in an engrossing discussion about the 1979 classic movie Alien.

They take a deep dive into the design elements of the movie, which has inspired Blackmore in his own work and research on propaganda and war.

“It’s the stuff that you don’t see coming that you have to watch out for,” Blackmore says. The propaganda that you don’t necessarily realize is propaganda. “Any time you see Grogu, watch your wallet!”

After providing some context of what was happening in the field of science fiction, SF cinema, and culture in general, they get into how the visual presentation of Alien was created by the genius of a whole team of designers. This included Roy Cobb, Chris Foss, H.R. Giger and the screenwriter, Dan O’Bannon.

Tim tells a great story about how the movie was conceived and brought to life, how Ridley Scott became its director, and how it influenced the cinema that came afterwards.

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Tim Blackmore is a professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University in London, Ontario (Canada). In addition to extensive articles and book chapters, Blackmore has published two major academic works: War X: Human Extension in Battlespace, and, Gorgeous War: The Branding War Between the Third Reich and the United States.

In his own words: “I work on all kinds of projects, and I love that. I read, see and write about popular culture, particularly science fiction (in prose, film, animation, jello…it doesn’t matter to me what the medium is), but also comics and comic strips, science fiction film design (I know that sounds specific, but it’s a huge field). I also focus a great deal on what Leo Marx called The Machine in the Garden, and the persistence of the pastoral in this weird age of post-everything and all-transparency. We need to stay grounded.”

Tim Blackmore, smiling at the camera

Semiotic Standard chart from the movie alien
Roy Cobb’s semiotic standard, which he created for the movie Alien (a poster Tim has in his office)

2 responses to “Episode 15: Alien”

  1. Mark Avatar

    Thanks Frank — Tim is fabulous, such a great mind!

  2. FFAULK Avatar

    Really fascinating discussion! Loved Tim Blackmore‘s insights on art and propaganda!

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