WARNING: Spoilers for Alien: Covenant ahead, so read at your own risk
So Alien: Covenant has come and essentially gone from theaters at this point, with most of its surprises out in the open for viewers to discuss and complain about. While it certainly has underwhelmed at the box office compared to Prometheus, the bigger issue for its future might be the actual content of the film. Opinions aside, the film is still making it’s way around to the global audience and experiencing some changes in China due to a few specific moments.
The nation has long had a strange relationship with gay content in films, blocking films like Brokeback Mountain but having no issues with Beauty And The Beast‘s touted “gay moment.” Both are at very different ends of the film spectrum, but the nation does this in an effort to protect children from sexual and violent imagery. In the case of Brokeback Mountain, it portrays a relationship between two men, where the situation in the latter film is only implied according to i09. This is confusing when it comes to Alien: Covenant because the one true gay couple in the film aren’t edited out at all. Most of the trouble comes from the violence and Michael Fassbender’s intimate encounter with himself according to The Hollywood Reporter:
“For the other missing parts you don’t notice or know when it happens, but you can really feel something is missing where the gay kiss is supposed to be,” says Yu, a 26-year-old assistant at an advertising agency in Shanghai, who saw the movie Saturday night with friends (and asked only to be identified by her last name). Yu said she had read about the missing kiss in local media reports and was waiting to see if she could guess where it was supposed to be.
There’s a lot being implied by the kiss shared by David And Walter, but they’re far from romantic with each other. The idea that this would be censored is just a little silly in relation to the story being told on the screen, at least at its general level.
Equally alarming is what else has been cut from the film in terms of violent content. According to a report about fan reactions on the Baidu message board, the film’s main draw gets limited screen time thanks to these edits:
“On a Baidu message board, one viewer who attended an advance screening called the censored version “extremely frustrating” to watch, estimating that the film’s monsters are only shown on screen for a total of “one to two minutes.”
Calling himself “Angel Will Drive,” the poster said the “distinct” cuts are most noticeable in two scenes in the film’s second half, explaining that all gory images of aliens covered in blood have been removed as have scenes in which humans are attacked.
One scene from Alien: Covenant that involves a “broken back” has been changed so that “in the China version you can only see the scared expressions of the people outside the door.”
While the fear being exhibited by the characters is very real and believable, having to imagine what they’re reacting to would be annoying when you know the rest of the world has seen the events on the screen. It already felt like we didn’t get enough the titular creatures in the uncensored version that was released here in America. It’s hard to imagine a version that removes even more. The Chinese version of Alien seems a lot like the Mad TV version of The Sopranos. Just disjointed cuts and an intermission with the cartoon concessions telling you to spy on your neighbors.