Memory: The Origins of Alien (2019)
August 31, 2019 2:46 PM - Subscribe

[From IMDB] The untold origin story behind Ridley Scott's Alien - rooted in Greek and Egyptian mythologies, underground comics, the art of Francis Bacon, and the dark visions of Dan O'Bannon and H.R. Giger.

40 years after Alien was released, you would think there was not much new to say about its creation, but Alexandre Philippe's documentary is likely to prove fascinating to fans of the film or of sf and horror movies in general. Although some of the key figures involved are no longer with us (Dan O'Bannon, H.R. Giger) we see contributions from them via archive interviews; fresh accounts come from cast members (although not, disappointingly, Sigourney Weaver) and production crew.

If Memory has a flaw, it's that it feels like the first two-thirds of a longer documentary. An exploration of the early life of writer Dan O'Bannon and the influences on him leads into a wider discussion of the influences - from 1950s B-movies to ancient Greek myth and of course the works of H.P. Lovecraft - on the film itself, followed by an account of the convoluted production history that, among other things, saw Giger being hired, fired and then hired again once Ridley Scott took the helm. An extended dissection (ahem) of the 'chestburster' scene feels like it should lead into a reflective analysis of the rest of the film and its cultural legacy, but instead we end there. That's not to say that what we get isn't excellent, but you come out of the cinema wishing there was one more reel. Philippe does gives a quick comparison with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant but only to set out his view as to how less artful Scott's own later revisiting of the franchise was; in his analysis, those films show us how pedestrian Alien might have been without the particular combination of talent it enjoyed and the gift for visual story-telling of the younger Scott.

Guardian review
Kim Newman's review
posted by Major Clanger (1 comment total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I was keen to check this one out but was worried it'd just be yet another doc on Alien that is nothing more than a puff piece for Ridley Scott. Kim Newman's notes on the film have further convinced me that it is what I'm looking for - the mere fact that they are mentioning Planet of Vampires and Queen of Blood has me interested.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:37 PM on August 31


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