Final Girls Week: Ellen Ripley, Alien

Rianne Pictures

“This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off,” is the last line of Ridley Scott’s Alien, and with it Ellen Ripley establishes herself as sci-fi’s final girl.

Who is the final girl? The term was coined by academic Carol Clover in her 1987 essay ‘Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film’. According to Clover, the final girl is “the one who encounters the mutilated bodies of her friends and perceives the full extent of the preceding horror and of her own peril; who is chased, cornered, wounded; whom we see scream, stagger, fall, rise, and scream again.”

To me, Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver in the 1979 sci-fi horror classic) not only fits this description but also represents the time that we’re living in right now. As the xenomorph picks off the rest of her crew one by one, Ripley spends much of Alien alone. Similarities can be drawn between her crisis and our current crisis – a (mostly) invisible, unseen threat hijacking the body and warnings go unheeded as we live in fear of lethal consequences.

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