(SPOILER ALERT!) The 1979 Ridley Scott classic “Alien” was marketed as the “Jaws” in space. A commercial space crew are diverted to a planet, where they pick up a life form. With it on-board they return to space, but the life form is revealed to be an acid-blooded “alien”. It slowly kills of each member of the crew. However, one of the crew members is Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). She is the last survivor, and takes the escape pod. But the alien has joined her. A final battle ensures, and Ripley wins. The end.
That may be the way people remember it, but everyone seems to forget about Jones the cat! The film is really about the survival of the clever cat, with the humans being incidental according to Roger Luckhurst in his book “Alien (BFI Film Classics)“.
Remember, Jones, the cat, coldly watched one crew member die (Kane), lured another to his death (Brett) and emotionally manipulated Ripley in taking him into the escape pod. He also made Ripley make some silly decisions as the main ship was on countdown to self-destruct. And recall that Jones, the cat, survives into the opening of the sequel “Aliens” when Ripley is happily re-united with him. The cat, though, is wise enough not to return to the alien-infested planet, unlike the dumb humans.
There’s actually a short story written from the cat’s perspective called “My Day By Jones” by Anne Billson. In it, humans are defined by their one useful function: “can-openers”. At a deeper level, “Alien” shows through the relationship between Ripley and Jones, how different life-forms can co-exist (unlike the alien and the humans). Jones, the cat, has its own mind, so it not just a faithful servant like a dog (which in “Alien 3″ is a carrier of an alien). In the end, we suspect that the Jones will outlive us all.