Alien: The unravelling of Ash

leading from

a. Convulsion
Gordon Carroll didn't seem to quite answer the question he was asked but here at least gave an answer that was near enough correct. But it is first here that something about Ash seems strange in his response to being thrown against the wall by Ripley.


b) Response 
Ash comes in behind Ripley in a way that people might wonder. As she dips into basically company records and finds she isn't going to get the right answer, she has came to a block with the computer and wasn't going to get any more information. So this is where the duplicity of the company that had protection on all of its ships comes into show, and it plants a humanoid robot to protect its interests which is about to be revealed. Ash' reaction to Ripley's human emotions, he's confused rather than fearful and that's why she shrinks away because didn't understand why she was crying,  perhaps he had never seen that before, 



c. Sweating Milk
Malevolence comes through just by adding one simple thing which just came out in the day, which was the idea of sweating milk, with a droplet of milk dripping down his forehead, it's an alarm signal, a way of warning the audience. It's a humorous touch in the film because in the previous scene, Ash is seen drinking milk or some liquid which feeds his circuits.


d. Do humanoids have sexual urges?

Ridley talked to Ian Holm about his character "how do you feel about sexual drive?". 

He said "Great"

So Ridley then added" rather than just beating her up, isn't it more interesting that he actually has always wanted to, and here's his opportunity but he doesn't have that part, and therefore it's a magazine"




The Ridley later told Sigourney, "come downstairs, it's gonna be great. Ash is gonna pick up this sex magazine and he's gonna stick it up your hooter"

Sigourney didn't know what hooter meant and even later thought it might be cockney slang. She thought "My hooter?"

When she got down stairs and they did the scene, she realised that actually it was up her mouth.

Ridley worked out that robots if they're sophisticated and perfect as Ash, it will almost out of necessity have a form of emotional life. You don't have only a physical and mental mechanism, bit a machine that is capable at any moment of uncontrollable emotional reactions and will take certain decisions by itself. Like HAL in 2001. However, here no one has considered that in building a robot, it had been given a psychological life, with worries and problems. This perfect machine starts to have feelings when faced with the behaviour of humans. It starts to be interested in the women and to have desires that can not be expressed. Behind the assault on Ripley in an attempt to solved these tensions, it carries out a sort of rape and perhaps this means that his attempt to rape Ripley is the closest he gets to a sexual relationship.



e. Show of Strength

Ash attacks Ripley, throws her about, and then looks down at her unconscious body and begins to roll a magazine up to orally rape her, Ash begins to put the magazine into her mouth and she struggles. Ash uses the other hand to grab Yaphet's chest. Ridley wanted to have some show of strength which was simple but violent. It was interesting to see something happening with this character that you had no idea what he was and when its revealed, it makes sense if you have financial interests, there has to be something on board that makes sure the company's interests are protected. Ash is like a walking trasmitter.



f. The Head
When Ash goes beserk and attacks Ripley, Parker in an attempt to knock him out hits him with something that might be a bat. Ash's head is knocked off his body and tries to put it back on, but when that failed, they put the head on the table so that they can make it talk to them

They left Ash' interior as an organic thing rather than having steel pipes and so one. He wanted it to look like a food table, and he loved the glass marbles on the strands and the tiny bits of fibreoptics.

They cut between the head of a model to the head of Ian Holm coming through the head in a table. And they worked for a long time on the voice of the dying robot would. It's obviously the doppler effect.




Source Quotes
  1. Fantastic Films: Why does Ash go into convulsions after Sigourney slaps him. Does she loosen his circuits of something?
    Gordon Carroll. He started to spin out. He started to go crazy (Fantastic Films #13, p60) 
  2. Ridley Scott:Always this scene is peculiar because you wonder how Ash got in behind her. So now she has a block. She's not going to get any more information, and uh, she's dipping into basically company records and is not going to get the right answer. So this is where you get the duplicity of the company that has protection on all of its ships, and this is what I thought was really a great original idea, would plant a humanoid or robot to protect it's interests, which is about to be revealed, and there, there he is. Now what was interesting here, I liked Ash reacting to human emotion by, he wasn't frightened of her, he didn't understand why she was crying, probably because he had never seen that before, so that was what that.... you got that rather peculiar reaction from Ash as he shrinks away from her because it's not.... why would be be fearful, right (20th Anniversary DVD Commentary, )
  3. Ridley Scott: Now we have malevolence, which is even stranger by just adding one simple thing which just came out in the day, there it is.(Alien 20th Anniversary Commentary)
  4. Ridley Scott: And then he goes strange, he sweats with milk, here (pointing to his own forehead tracing the trail where sweat would be dripping down) and then he has to go, goes at her.... (Shepperton Studios 1978 documentary (The Making of Alien ) 
  5.  Fantastic Films: He is a very organic robot. There were even scenes where he was drinking milk.
    Gordon Carroll: Glad you noticed that. First time you see it again, it's on one of the temples.
    (Fantastic Films #13, p60)
  6.  Interviewer: Just before assaulting Ripley, the robot starts to sweat....
    Ridley Scott: This is one of the humorous touches in the film. At the end of the previous scene, you've seen it drink milk, or some liquid with which it feeds its circuits. The drop that appears on its forehead is an alarm signal, a way of warning the audience that something is going wrong (Magazine Source yes to be identified) 
    Ridley Scott: .... and I always thought that it was interesting that er, do humanoids have sexual urges, what would be nice is that this is the closest he gets to sexual relationships (smirk (Shepperton Studios 1978 documentary (The Making of Alien )
  7. Sigourney Weaver: "He said well come on downstairs, it's gonna be great, Ash is gonna pick up this sex magazine and he's gonna stick up your hooter. And I didn't know cockney, and I thought, hmm, my hooter. Erm, and so, luckily when we got downstairs, it was up my mouth, "the short way (?)" but it was funny, it was one of those things, you know I didn't actually think, "well Ridley would never do... " (laughter)



    Ridley Scott: Yeah exactly, I figured that

    Sigourney Weaver:That thing would have surprised ....

    Ridley Scott: I figures that robots had to have, if they're sophisticated, had to occasionally have the urge, so I said to Ash, "how do you feel about sexual drive?". He said "great". (Sigourney laughing) So I said "rather than just beating her up, isn't it more interesting that he actually has always wanted to, and here's his opportunity but he doesn't have that part"

    Sigourney Weaver: Oh, he doesn't

    Ridley Scott: And therefore it's a magazine

    Sigourney Weaver:  Ahh, I didn't understand the Freudian overtones of the scene

    Ridley Scott: I hope there aren't any kids listening to all this

    Sigourney Weaver: Well, if kids can watch...

    Ridley Scott: It's pretty abstract

    Sigourney Weaver (cont'd) :...these movies they can hear this stuff

    Ridley Scott: Exactly
    (Alien DVD commentary, Alien Quadrilogy DVD)
  8. Interviewer: Until that final moment it was possible to think that it was reacting sexually to Ripley
    Ridley Scott; If you create a model as perfect as that, it will have, almost of necessity, a form of "emotional life." You don't have only a physical and mental mechanism, but a machine that is capable at any moment of uncontrollable emotional reactions and which will take certain decisions by itself. Like HAL in 2001. Here no one has considered that in building a robot, it had been given a psychological life, with worries and problems. This perfect machine starts to have feelings when faced with the behaviour of humans. It starts to be interested in the women and to have desires that can not be expressed. Behind the assault on Ripley is an attempt to solve these tensions, a sort of rape.
  9. Ridley Scott: I need to have some show of strength which was simple but violent. And I think here comes one of the really great ideas in the film which is having the character that you had on board who you had no idea what he really was, and here it's to be revealed, and it also makes sense if you have interests, financial interests like this, you've got to have something on board that makes sure you are protected. So he's like a walking transmitter. You hear the death of Ash and the winding down of the whatever's driving him, Jimmy Shield's great sounds.
    (20th-anniversary-dvd-commentary)
  10. Ridley Scott: When Ash goes beserk and attacks Ripley, Parker, just trying to knock him out, really, hits him in the head with a bat or something. Ash's head was knocked off his body at this point, and he tries to put it back on. But when that failed, he just put it down on a table and talked to them. (Fantastic Films #11 , Ridley Scott interview pt 1, p35)
  11. Ridley Scott:We used up one of those cattle prods and also we left his interior to really be an organic choice rather than having, you know, steel pipes 'nd things like that so I requested that it would really look like the food table, and I loved the glass marbles on the strands and the teeny bits of fibreoptics and of course his blood. Not a bad cut between a head, not bad to getting a head of Ash actually coming through a hole in the table .

    Great voice, yeah we worked on that forever trying to find out what would the voice be of the dying robot. It's obviously the doppler effect... spooky. (20th-anniversary-dvd-commentary)

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