MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN (2019)
Written and Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe
Available now on DVD with 4 artcards
Documentary MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN takes a look at the making of 1979 hit sci-fi horror film from Ridley Scott. Focusing on the film’s origins as a story written by Dan O’Bannon, through interviews with his wife, his colleagues and old interviews with the man himself (O’Bannon passed away in 2009), the documentary plots out ALIEN‘s eventual arrival to cinematic glory throughout its numerous name changes.
The concept of the story of ALIEN, as well as the art by O’Bannon’s friend H.R. Giger, is explored in MEMORY, along with Alejandro Jodorowsky, Roger Corman and Walter Hill’s initial involvement before Ridley Scott ending up taking directing duties on the movie. Before Scott got on board, ALIEN could have been a very different animal completely as Giger’s biomech-sexual artwork was deemed perverse and he was left out in the cold. Scott, on the other hand, immediately knew that Giger’s artwork embodied the image needed for the alien of the movie, the Xenomorph, and with Scott at the helm, Giger returned to the fold.
A large portion of the documentary focuses on the creation of the alien world, extending to the eggs, facehugger, chest burster and even the space jockey, featuring new and old interviews with John Hurt, Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright talking about their time working on the movie. Producers, the art director and editor equally have their say and it’s fascinating to see behind-the-scenes footage of iconic cinematic history being made as the current-day cast and crew reflect on their past experiences.
If you’re unfamiliar with Dan O’Bannon, this documentary does a very good job at explaining the writer’s history including his collaboration with John Carpenter on comedy Dark Star which convinced him that he wanted to create a serious sci-fi. His wife Diane talks about O’Bannon’s childhood out in the isolated mid-West and his fascination with insects and cicadas and that the old creature features of the 50’s and the sci-fi books he used to watch and read were no doubt inspiration for the ALIEN story. Other ideas on the inspiration of the film’s look and feel, including ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, art of Francis Bacon and H.R. Giger and the tales of H.P. Lovecraft, are investigated with various other critics and filmmakers discussing the social commentary on the working class and female/male dynamic in the movie. Parasitic organisms are also looked at in detail as ideas that fuelled the chestburster before its inevitable emergence from John Hurt’s chest.
Film fans will have a lot to devour from MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN. It’s presented in an engaging way with film industry pros like Axelle Carolyn, Clarke Wolfe, Ben Mankiewicz and FrightFest’s very own Alan Jones providing their thoughts on the movie and what it means to them. It’s riveting stuff and any budding creative will take much delight from what this documentary has to offer, particular if you’re an ALIEN fan. As a film of such magnitude, ALIEN is one of those movies that just continues to give decades down the line; the creation of it is just another feather in its cap.
A definite must-see for ALIEN fans.