Back in 2003 Fox Studios released on BluRay the Alien Quadrilogy, the four films (up to that point) in the Alien franchise. Included were Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien: Resurrection (1997).
However, to make the set truly a ”must buy” for fans, included were “Director’s” or ”Alternative” cuts of each of the four films. Thus, fans got to see David Fincher’s rough cut assembly of Alien 3 (his experience making the film was supposedly quite sour and he rejected the theatrical cut due to his many clashes with the studios. This rough cut assembly may be the closest we’ll have to Fincher’s original vision of the film) along with the version of Aliens which incorporates scenes cut from the Cameron film.
Perhaps the most curious extra feature was the ”Director’s Cut” of the original Alien…
Now, for those who read ”Director’s Cut” and think this is the preferred version of the film the Director (in this case, Ridley Scott) wanted, rid yourself of that notion right away.
The fact is the ”Director’s Cut” of Alien was purely made as a promo for the Alien Quadrilogy release. It boasts some alternate ”takes” of certain scenes but truly has the same story… only not as well told, IMHO, as it was in the theatrical cut.
In fact, Ridley Scott himself said the truest version of the film remains the theatrical cut and that this ”Director’s Cut” was an exercise/lark and nothing more.
In fact, I would go so far as to say there is really only one sequence worth checking out in this ”Director’s Cut” and that’s this one…
The scene is, IMHO, a potent one. We realize Dallas, the ship’s Captain, is not dead and, further to this, we get the whole mythology of the Alien creature spelled out. Specifically, how the creature procreates using “live” subjects.
So… why was the sequence cut from the theatrical version of Alien?
Timing, as it were.
The sequence occurs during the film’s climax, when (SPOILERS FOR THE VERY FEW WHO HAVEN’T SEEN THIS TERRIFIC FILM YET) Ripley is the last survivor and is running for her life. She’s quite literally set the ship on self-destruct and is running against the ticking time bomb.
Unfortunately, the cocoon sequence takes what is a thrilling, high tension sequence and quite literally slows it almost to a stop. We have Ripley walking slowly on, taking in the sight and processing what she’s seeing, then we realize we have Dallas still alive but obviously not well, then she kills him after he begs her to.
Again, great scene but it completely stopped the flow of the movie at that point and, IMHO, it was wise to remove it.
Is the “Director’s Cut” of Alien worth checking out?
I have to say, for the casual film goer I would stick with the theatrical cut and, if you’re curious, the bit I posted above. Watching the “Director’s Cut”, while intriguing, truthfully doesn’t add that much to the film’s experience. If anything, it shows Ridley Scott used the very best material he had and wisely chose to exclude what was a good scene because it simply didn’t work where it lay.
Therefore, recommended only to those who are fans of the film and want to see some more/alternate material.