MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN Dives Deep into Ridley Scott’s Sci-Fi Classic - Sundance Review
If you’re a fan of Ridley Scott’s classic film Alien, Memory: The Origins of Alien is a documentary worth checking out. This movie takes a super deep dive into what went into the making of the film which all started with the vision of screenwriter Dan O’Bannon.
The film is loaded with interviews with the people who were involved with the development of the film and they share some incredibly interesting behind the scenes stories.
The doc takes us through the early conception of Alien, and all of the early comic book stories and films that inspired it. There are a lot of great things mentioned here that I’m familiar with, but until I watched this movie I didn’t notice all the connections that they had with Alien.
It took a collaborative effort to create this sci-fi masterpiece and it also was umpires by paintings, novels, mythology, world events, and centuries-old sociological and ideological issues. H.P. Lovecraft was a huge inspiration. There are also a lot of crazy theories as well regarding what certain aspects of the film really could mean.
I’m a huge fan of Alien and this movie opened my eyes to a lot of things and gave me a new-found respect for the film.
After watching the movie, it’s fascinating to see how close the movie came to being something completely different. Had Ridley Scott not come on board to direct it, we would not have gotten such a beautifully terrifying sci-fi film. The stars really had to align for this exact movie to get made. Had the original director not dropped out because he thought the script was crap, we would have never gotten this film!
As you know, one of the biggest influences of the film was H.R. Giger, but the studio didn’t want him involved because they didn’t care for his crazy ass awesome art. When Scott came on board he demanded Giger come in to design the film and thankfully he did and the studio let him! Without Giger, Alien would not be Alien.
One of the main aspects of the film that the doc focused on was the chest buster scene with John Hurt. The entire production hinged on that scene working and thankfully they were able to awesomely pull It off. A good chunk of the film was dedicated to giving us insight into the thought process, the design work, and the technical aspect of being able to pull it off.
But you know all this already! This doc just delves much deeper into it and offers up lots of details that you may have never known before.
The movie comes from director Alexandre O. Philippe who previously made the doc 78/52 which breaks down and dissects the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. You get the same amount of attention, care, and detail in this new doc that you did in that.
Here’s the official description:
Memory was a script that Dan O’Bannon started in 1971, abruptly hitting a wall at page 29. But after the idea gestated for several years, it ultimately took the form of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece Alien.
Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentaries—most recently 78/52, about Hitchcock’s Psycho shower scene—have interrogated cinema’s cultural ripples. If MEMORY—The Origins of Alien were only a comprehensive account of Alien’s origins—ancient myths, comic books, H.P. Lovecraft, sci-fi movies, and parasitic wasps—it would still be fascinating. But how did Alien lodge itself so indelibly into our cultural imagination? Philippe’s real interest lies in the deep resonance of myths and our collective unconscious. The strange symbiotic collaboration between Alien creators O’Bannon, Scott, and H.R. Giger suggests a greater synchronicity across history, art, and storytelling, a synchronicity that gives us the Furies, creatures of Renaissance painting, and even chest-bursting aliens.
Propelled by a pure joy of cinema (and sociology), the film is strewn with unearthed archival material, designs, and story notes. It’s safe to say you’ll never think of Alienthe same way again.
This is definitely a must-watch doc for any fan of Alien.