Alien was released in 1979. The late 1970s were a time of great change in American culture. Culturally, the feminist movement was at its peak. Technologically, great advances were being made in many fields. Politically, the Cold War was still going on. The
Feminism and the role of women in society were going though a turning point the 1970s. Roe vs. Wade, the supreme court case establishing a womenís right to an abortion was passed in 1973. Throughout the 70s, womenís organizations fought for an amendment to the United States Constitution known as the Equal Rights Amendment that would explicitly state that men and women were equal under the law. 1978 saw the largest march for equality in the history of the Feminist movement, the Equal Rights Amendment Extension March, which had over 100,000 people in it. Making the main character of Alien a women was a bold move by the film makers and the studio, and it ultimately proved successful. Had the film been released a few years earlier, audiences might not have accepted such a strong women as the lead character, or it would have overwhelmed the rest of the film. Had the movie come a few years later, it would not have been as groundbreaking and it is likely other movies would have had a similar character first.
Since the beginning of the Cold War, Americans feared communism and the
Alien was released in May of 1979, a short time after the partial nuclear meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in
Both the role of women in society and fear of technology are subjects that have continued to be prominent in our society since the movie was released in 1979. Though the Cold War is over, foreign threats still linger, and this type of fear of the unknown remains. Because of this, Alien has remained a relevant and popular movie with several generations of audiences.