Continuing our habit of watching cinematic classics with the sprogs, this evening we watched Alien. I inadvertently got the Director’s Cut version and there seemed to be some significant differences from the version I remember from 1979 (can it have been so long ago?). We seemed to get more of the alien itself, for example, and right at the end Ripley comes across cocooned versions of Dallas and Brett (definitely not in the first version), yet the programme notes declared that the new cut was shorter. Digging a little deeper, it seems an expanded version was released in the 1990s and that the director, Ridley Scott, cut five minutes of footage from that, whilst also re-inserting four minutes that had been cut from the original (1979) version. Well, I won’t go back and watch it now, but I think I preferred the original (1979) version, since it left, I think, much more to the imagination in building suspense. The wikipedia entry is also interesting on the mechanics of the special effects – mostly done on a shoe-string. Like Some Like It Hot emerging from chaos, some of Alien‘s best effects were the result of brilliant technical improvisation brought about by necessity. Great stuff.