Lieutenant First Class Ellen Louise Ripley

Before we even start, no I’m not being sexist in any of the upcoming comments.  We’re discussing archetypes, broad categories, and observations.  Nothing is definitely fact and everything is open to interpretation.  And there’s spoilers here. With that out of the way…

Sigourney Weaver as Lt Ellen Ripley in “Alien” (1979)

Ripley, perfectly portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, defies archetypes of the female hero over the course of several films, an evolution from movie to movie.  In the beginning, she’s not overly feminine even though there is tension between her and Captain Authur Dallas, played by Tom Skerritt. At first, she seemed to be the only person acting logically and thinking forward, both on and off the ship, while everyone else on the Nostromo was simply responding to the situations they encounter. 

Me Talking

In the second film, they’ve cut off her hair and shoe-horned her into a masculine job at the docking bay, running loaders and forklifts.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in “Aliens” (1986)

In Alien 3 we know, and Ripley knows, that she’s defeated.  There is no winning. She can’t survive the alien queen inside her, yet fights to destroy it after having lost pretty much all her humanity.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in “Alien 3” (1992)

Why is characterization important in storytelling?

The evolution of the character helps to move along the story.  No one wants to read about the day of Jane Doe if she doesn’t do anything, doesn’t learn anything, if nothing happens.  So, if something happens, the character has to react.  The reaction has to come from somewhere, some prior knowledge that the author has in order to depict the reaction, otherwise everyone would just sort of go ‘oh gee’ in fiction whenever they were surprised by something.

More of me talking

 A strong understanding of character depth and dynamics gives the storyteller the tools they need in order to paint the characters, make them come alive, and make the story worth experiencing.  A wonderful plot is a well rendered setting will fall flat if there isn’t at least one compelling character to follow through it.

Alien Resurrection is like an alternate history, a “what if.”  What would have happened had Ripley accepted the alien instead of rejecting it, metaphorically speaking?  

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in “Alien Resurrection” (1997)

It’s interesting to note how Ripley’s physical appearance has returned to feminine and sultry, yet intimidating. She feels dangerous.

Catch ya on the flip side!


Some Image Credits:,,

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