ALIENS: THE SET PHOTOGRAPHY
By Simon Ward
Hardback published by Titan Books
Ask any one of our writers, myself included, about the most groundbreaking films of its genre and I can guarantee that the Alien franchise will be in there. It started with Ridley Scott’s Alien and then the magic happened: a sequel that was as good as its predecessor: James Cameron’s ALIENS. The 1986 film picked up where the first film left off, albeit 57 years later in the movie, with Sigourney Weaver returning as Lt. Ripley and joined by a fantastic fresh cast in the form of Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein and Michael Biehn, to name just a few. With 80’s charm and bucketloads of attitude, Aliens became a film that could stand on its own two feet with its thrilling action sequences whilst retaining essence of the slow-burn sci-fi thriller of its predecessor.
30 years later, Titan Books have decided to treat the fans of the hit movie with a hardback book showcasing behind-the-scenes images, some never-before-seen, from the movie featuring our favourite Aliens stars including the Xenomorphs themselves. This book allows us to step into a world in which humans have colonised other planets and moons such as LV-426, an exomoon inhabited by deadly creatures and which a team of Colonial Marines armed with pulse rifles and sharp sticks must investigate.
The 144 page book is introduced by Newt herself, one-time-only actress Carrie Henn, who discusses how she ended up bagging the role of the iconic child character in the Alien sequel. Her story is fascinating to read and her insights into the film add an extra dimension to the wonderful array of stills and behind-the-scenes photos displayed throughout the book. Jenette Goldstein, who played Vasquez in the film, also offers her thoughts with brief quotes captioning various photos along with a few other crew members’ insights. Predominantly though, it’s the thoughts and memories of Carrie Henn that are utilised most in the book.
Broken down into chapters, from colour and black & white stills of the cast and crew to the set photography and then behind-the-scenes work, the book is an amazing way to experience the film again but from a different angle. Images which breakdown the various iconic scenes from the film are fascinating to look at as is reading the accompanying text which details how each actor cast as a Colonial Marine was allowed to personalise their garments to give their character their own identity. There’s also sections on the make-up, animatronics and design processes that went into the movie, such as the vehicular and weapon designs, which are a brilliant read for both fans of the film and for those with a keen interest in the innerworkings of making a movie such as this. However, priority is given to the photographs themselves given that the main focus of the book is just that – the photography.
For fans of the Alien franchise, in particular the sequel, ALIENS: THE SET PHOTOGRAPHY is an enthralling piece of work with so many splendid images that capture the imagination. Each photo manages to tell its own little story purely by what is captured via the lens. The captions which sit alongside these windows into another world add an extra depth and insight into the movie that we love, information we might not have known about the film. The personal quotes from the cast and crew, particularly Henn and Goldstein, is what makes this book more than just a visual piece of entertainment. Pop the book on your coffee table and your guests won’t be able to resist having a flick through the pages.
A definite talking point, ALIENS: THE SET PHOTOGRAPHY is a fantastic addition to any film fan’s library.