And it’s probably because their designs are based on animals. Shocking, I know. Observant, I am. But redundant or not, let’s look at a couple.
Have you seen Arrival yet? If not, then go and do that immediately. I put some screencaps in here from the movie that show the aliens, but the movie is really clever about hiding them even while showing them, and the build up to their reveal is really effective, so if you don’t know what they look like yet just watch the movie. Now.
Let’s start with District 9.
This is a “Prawn” from District 9. I hope never to see this movie again; it was too real, and too upsetting. Prawn are named after an animal they sort of resemble.
But I think they look a little more like beetles. Maybe cockroaches.
I’m sorry for putting a picture of a cockroach here but I honestly don’t mind them. Maybe I would if they were infesting my house, but as far as terrifying insects go they’re too big to freak me out too much. If I can see how they operate, I’m less scared.
Also if you follow the link on that image, the article you’ll find which is where the image is from talks about how to try to get people to be less afraid of and hateful towards cockroaches, they have cockroach petting sessions at a zoo in Japan. Cockroach petting sessions. I legitimately want to do that. I want to pet a cockroach. I don’t know, OK, I just do.
So the Harvesters from Independence Day, which I also hope to never see again but only because it’s silly, look like this:
So these look like a mesh of insect and see creature, just like the Prawn. Their boniness reminds me of exoskeletons, and their giant black eyes remind me both of the stupid centipede that’s wandering around inside this house at present, and of fish. And yes, I wish it was a cockroach in here with me instead.
Their faces are pretty human, though. They have nice eyebrow structure, and noses, so, OK.
Arrival, though, has aliens that clearly resemble a certain type of animal.
Here they remind me of spiders, but the way they move and the way they write pretty strongly suggest squid.
Look at the glistening on that… foot? Hand? I know aliens always glisten, but so do animals who live in the ocean.
Anyway later Louise ends up behind the glass with Abbott, and sees what they actually look like. Sort of. It’s still pretty misty in there.
Yyyyup. That’s a giant squid.
As far as we ever see, they don’t have eyes or mouths. From the alien movies I’ve seen, I think this is pretty unique. Usually in movies they seem to imagine aliens as having mostly the same faculties that we do, but as Arrival is all about the major communication challenges that would arise if an alien species were to show up tomorrow, this time around they get to be a little less recognizable.
Still, they look like squid.
I find this all really interesting. I like how we use insects and sea life to imagine what it might be like to see an alien life form, as if insects and sea life aren’t familiar, fellow Earth-dwellers like us. I think in some ways these movies are confronting a couple of truths we could use periodic reminders of: we’re not really that different, us Earthlings. And we could try to understand our most bizarre roommates on this planet a little better.
(Stitch is a Koala.)