Sunday, July 25, 2021
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They’re Alienating us on Planet Covid

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ALTHOUGH no kind of a movie buff, every once in a while I like to reflect on my top ten favourite films. Preferably, but not necessarily, in the company of family or friends.    

Independent musings are still very enjoyable and you can be brutally honest with yourself, resisting any temptation to embrace politically correct choices. Such as Keir Starmer’s risible selection of Stormzy on Desert Island Discs.

To do a belt and braces job, you would first have to define the criteria by which you would assess your top ten. Purely in terms of entertainment and personal enjoyment, or should you weigh other aspects such as an educational impact, acting performances or special effects? It is not easy – which, of course, makes it more enjoyable.   

I am not about to bore you with my personal favourites except for one candidate, Alien, Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, transcending and mastering multiple genres including action, sci-fi and horror.  

I watched it on release in a huge single-screen Odeon and was blown away. An amazing, unforgettable cinematic experience that would definitely nudge Alien into my top ten.   

Surprisingly, it was seven years before a sequel was released, Aliens. I suspect 20th Century Fox did not know quite how to follow the original, and in the end gave James Cameron the scope and freedom to direct a heart-stopping action movie.  

When communications are lost with a human colony on a moon where the super-aggressive alien creatures were discovered, a rescue mission with a troop of colonial marines is sent to investigate. With mind-boggling results. Aliens was not as well received by the critics, but was still widely popular and a massive commercial success.   

For me, Aliens is nowhere near my top ten, but still hugely enjoyable for utterly superficial reasons. I always find occasional space in my life for fast-paced action movies with ‘no brain required’.    

You are quite probably more sophisticated and civilised than me, and if you have not already seen this movie then you might be well advised to stay that way.    

But if you have seen it, then you might be struck by the disturbing similarities between all the main characters and the British Cabinet and their associates …   

Lieutenant Gorman: Nominally the leader of the mission, he is capable enough in normal circumstances. But as soon as tough situations unfold, he descends into panic and starts taking rash and indefensible decisions based on unreliable data and pressure from dubious individuals. Does that ring a bell?   

Carter Burke: A plausible ‘company man’ not directly affiliated to the crew, but with enormous behind-the-scenes influence over Gorman. Possessed of a single objective and willing to sacrifice everything else including the crew. Step forward, Professor Neil Ferguson.   

Science Officer Bishop: The only synthetic (android) on the team. This would be Michael Gove; highly intelligent, focused and potentially a great asset. But lacks the ability to empathise with human beings.   

Surprisingly, Matt Hancock maps on to Sergeant Apone – in a junior leadership role with significant responsibilities, but ultimately well out of his depth once the inadequacies of Gorman are exposed.   

Private Vasquez: A hard-boiled female Marine, experienced in combat and unafraid of strong language, but with seemingly scant influence in terms of big decision-making: Priti Patel.   

Corporal Hicks: Aligned to some extent with Vasquez, Hicks maintains a calm demeanour under pressure and even finds the courage to overrule the repulsive Burke. But yet another junior NCO ill-equipped for genuine combat leadership. This would be Dominic Raab.   

Private Hudson: Gung-ho enough to begin with and then descends into irritating hysteria. It is, frankly, a relief when he is dragged away by the aliens. Two stand-out candidates for this role: Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford.   

And if you are thinking that the aliens map on to Covid-19, I would disagree, given its proven lack of lethality to anyone under 70 without a pre-existing morbidity. A better mapping would be the economic, social and cultural devastation wrought by this Government – which is only just beginning.   

And tragically, there is no British candidate at all for the Ellen Ripley role. Cool, calm, caring and capable. The ability to see the big picture and grapple with critical details and save the day. I fear that opportunity has been lost and we are now moving into damage limitation.   

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Bill Wright
Bill Wright is a freelance lecturer and a proud father of four. He is not aligned with any political party or cause except freedom.

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