Aliens Attack

Aliens Attack




In "Aliens" (1986), marines watch screens as turrets battle advancing aliens. Editing emphasises tension through dwindling ammo and cross-cutting reactions.

How did the quick changes between shots of the aliens and the marines affect how you felt about the scene's tension?
Did you notice how the sounds of the turrets and alarms changed throughout the scene? How did this make you feel about the situation?


In the turret scene from "Aliens" (1986), James Cameron employs several distinct editing techniques to communicate tension and urgency. He utilises close-ups, specifically focusing on monitors that display the depleting turret ammunition. These close-ups direct the audience's attention, emphasising the critical nature of the dwindling resources.

The scene's pace is manipulated by Cameron to mirror the escalating intensity of the situation. As the aliens advance, the cuts between different shots increase in frequency, highlighting the growing danger the characters are facing.

Furthermore, Cameron integrates cross-cutting, toggling between the advancing aliens and the marines in their control center. This technique allows the depiction of simultaneous events, offering a comparison between the encroaching threat and the marines' reactions.

These editing decisions serve to immerse the audience, presenting a palpable sense of suspense and narrative urgency.

Analysis Questions

  1. What objects or elements were prominently shown in close-up shots during the turret scene from "Aliens"?
  2. How did the pace of editing evolve throughout the scene, and how did this influence the tension you felt?
  3. Based on this scene alone, what assumptions or predictions can you make about the overarching conflict or theme of the movie "Aliens"?