*1979 Theatrical Release
*2003 Director's Cut (dual versions available via seamless branching)
(new) Audio commentary with director Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt (BOTH versions)
Introduction to “2003 Director's Cut” by director Ridley Scott
Optional deleted footage marker for “2003 Director's Cut” (When you activate this mode, the text "Special Edition" will occasionally appear on the bottom right corner of the screen to identify every new scene)
Separate deleted and extended scene access for “Theatrical Release” (5 scenes, allow you to view the new material from the Director's Cut separately)
English and Spanish subtitles
2.35:1 anamorphic NTSC
English DTS 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
The picture transfer on Alien is a pleasing improvement over the picture on the previous DVD. Although the letterboxing is a touch tighter on the sides, colors are truer and less grayish, and the image conveys an increased accuracy. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound is identical to the earlier release, but there is a DTS track that gives the audio a bit more solidity and strengthens the bass. There is very little surround activity in the film's mix, but the front is highly dimensional and for its age, the audio mix is very satisfying. Be forewarned however-the DVD branching technology used to present the two different versions of the film on one platter will create brief sound dropouts, especially in DTS, with most audio processors.
The standard version of Alien runs 117 minutes and the 'Director's Cut' runs 116 minutes. Both versions work quite well, though there is a tendency to trust Scott's judgments in tightening the new version. The two big scenes that have been added-one, where Veronica Cartwright's character hits Weaver in anger, and another, the infamous 'cocoon' scene, where Tom Skerritt's character begs Weaver to kill him-enrich the film significantly, while the other trims and additions enhance the film's focus and a viewer's concentration. Scott was fully satisfied with the original film, and has only fiddled with it because the DVD market allows him to without compromising his integrity. (By the way, has anybody ever noted that there is no possible reason for the water bird gizmo on the table in the opening shot of the ship's interior to be bobbing the way it is, since in the eleven months that the crew was in stasis, the water would have long since evaporated?)
Scott has also recorded a new commentary track for the movie, and this is one of the Quadrilogy's few flaws. The track he recorded for the Legacy version is excellent, and while his talk on the Quadrilogy presentation is fresh and is just as good, why couldn't the old talk have been retained as well? In the older talk, Scott was more in tune with his thought process and explaining why things look or happen as they do on the film. In the new talk, which is intercut with reflections by many other of the filmmakers, including Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett and several cast members (Weaver sits with Scott, but doesn't say much), he is more anecdotal, and if you flip back and forth between the two DVDs, your understanding of a scene is doubly enhanced. Nevertheless, Scott does deliver his usual superb insights on the art of directing. "Nobody respects you later for having been a nice guy and given up. You gotta get it. You have to get it now, because you're going to wear what you got, basically. You can be very unpopular on the route, but if you're right, all is forgiven." The rest of the cast also watches and comments as a group, reminiscing about the shoot, and the other speakers supply a few interesting tidbits here and there.