‘Memory: The Origins of Alien’ — An Otherworldly Collaboration

Alexander Philippe’s new documentary explores the origins of Ridley Scott’s revolutionary science fiction film.

(via Flickr)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of “Alien,” and director Alexander O. Philippe is leading the festivities. On Oct. 4, Philippe’s new documentary “Memory: The Origins of Alien” was released, inviting fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the classic film. 

Based on Dan O’Bannon’s original screenplay, “Alien” is a science fiction horror film that follows a starship crew as they come face-to-face with a deadly stowaway. Following the success of the film, the documentary explores the origin story of “Alien,” from first draft to production. 

The documentary features a series of people directly involved with the making of the film, and it covers the chronological process of the film’s production, introducing each person involved in this process and explaining the significance of their role. 

“Alien” was inspired by a variety of comic books and science fiction films, particularly the work of H.P. Lovecraft and H.G. Giger. “Memory” shows side-by-side comparisons of images and scenes from these foundational works that show their influence on the movie. 

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There is also scattered commentary from a range of artists who highlight the implicit themes embedded into the movie. Political, social and economic factors of the 1970s had just as much of an impact as creative works. 

Given the success of “Alien,” it’s hard to imagine it struggling through production. The documentary emphasizes the difficulty in every step of the process through extensive interviews with the minds behind the film. It covers everything from writing the script to finding a director willing to take on the project.

Due to the lack of CGI at the time, the production crew had to go to great lengths to create the special effects, especially with the iconic chest-burster scene, a marvel of practical effects.

Philippe’s documentary thoroughly covers all of the aspects that went into the making of “Alien,” opening with O’Bannon’s humble beginnings and moving into the technical aspects of film production. 

It was interesting to see how O’Bannon built on his ideas until he was able to sell his product. The emphasis on his failures and later successes can serve as inspiration for people entering the business. 

It is definitely worth watching, though squeamish viewers should be warned about the amount of blood, guts and parasitic activity — yes, even in the documentary. 

Though “Memory” is targeted specifically at the “Alien” fan base, people who are interested in a career in film and television might find it quite educational. There are a lot of tips, tricks and techniques that could definitely come in handy in the future. 

Email Dani Herrera at [email protected]

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