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‘Memory: The Origins of Alien’ Documentary to Debut at the Sundance Film Festival!

Late last year we learned of Memory – The Origins of Alien, a new documentary which will explore the development of the first Alien film! Entertainment Weekly brings us news of the documentary’s premiere and an exclusive look at the poster for the film:

 'Memory: The Origins of Alien' Documentary to Debut at the Sundance Film Festival!
The documentary is directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, who is best known for his 2010 Star Wars documentary: The People vs. George Lucas. Memory seeks to focus on the work of Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger, exploring the early concepts and ideas of the film.

Set to debut at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on January 24th, there is no wide release date yet but we can likely expect to see one later this year. The Festival program describes the documentary as follows:

“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 Alien the same way again.”

It seems there are nearly endless stories to be told about the development and production of the original Alien. As also recently announced, we’ll also be getting a new comprehensive behind the scenes book of the film right before Alien Day on April 23rd.

Keep a close eye on Alien vs. Predator Galaxy for the latest Alien news! You can follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to get the latest on your social media walls. You can also join in with fellow Alien and Predator fans on our forums!



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  1. BishopShouldGo
    An amazing interview. I did not know the chestburster scene originally happened much later in the story! Very interesting. And that picture of Dan is too awesome. He truly was an amazing writer and a genius. Can't wait to watch this documentary. Between this and "The Making of ALIEN" and Alien: Blackout and I'm sure much more, 2019 is an awesome year for Alien. ;D
  2. The Eighth Passenger
    Imdb once had Morse listed as a character for Covenant if I recall correctly. That place needs to be erased.  :D

    We had Hudafuk on the cast list for a little while as well, back when Covenant was still known as Prometheus II. He was going to play Janek's white twin brother, Jenak.  :laugh:

    On Wikipedia some wag (wasn't me honest!) had Corporal Hicks (to be played by Aaron Percival) on Covenant's cast while it was still in early development.  ;D
  3. The Eighth Passenger
    Quote
    ‘Memory: The Origins of Alien’ Director on Ridley Scott’s Lack of Involvement in the Documentary
    What makes me very happy is that a couple of executives from Scott Free came to the premiere, loved the film and apparently Ridley requested to see it so we sent him the link just yesterday,” Philippe said. “I’m very excited about sharing the film with him and I really hope that he will like it.”

    I read somewhere that Memory takes a few jabs at Prometheus and Covenant. RidgeTop can you confirm? Riddles would probably not be amused.  :laugh:

    At this point it is worth to be mentioned that the "untitled Neil Blomkamp Alien movie project" has officially been vanished from IMDB.

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/36/64/58/366458732d0f63a885e039fda298dc69.gif

    "So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye"  ;D

    You lot are reading too much into this. Alien: Covenant II has also "officially been vanished from IMDB". As well as a shyte-tonne of other projects that were either shelved, stalled or in development hell. If Fox/Disney still want's to make a Blomkamp Alien film or a sequel to Covenant then they'll make it irrespective of whether there is a page for it on IMDb or not. It wasn't Fox who created those pages in the first place anyway.
  4. Necronomicon II
    Question for Alexandre O. Philippe -

    In regards to Covenant's chestburster, it seems that Scott's intention there was a subversion of the original chestburster; presenting the creature as a thing of beauty not something to be feared or reviled, what are your thoughts on that?

    The reasoning behind it was a lot more superficial than that:

    Quote from: Ridley Scott, 'Alien Covenant' Official Collector's Magazine
    How do I make it better than that? I felt it had to be more of a creature with arms and legs.

    The posing and choreography was presenting it as a miracle-of-life thing, from David 8's perspective, but the thought behind changing the design was a relatively shallow one.

    Was looking at it more thematically and yeah from David's perspective not so much the design, thus it's probably not so much Scott's intention as it was John Logan's et al. in terms of subversion.
  5. Ingwar
    Quote
    ‘Memory: The Origins of Alien’ Director on Ridley Scott’s Lack of Involvement in the Documentary

    Since the stars and filmmakers of Alien have been well represented in features about the making of the film over the years, Alexandre O. Philippe wanted to tell a lesser known story of the classic film. Memory: The Origins of Alien (read our review) focuses on Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger. Some other Alien cast members like Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright appear, but Ridley Scott only shows up in archival footage and Sigourney Weaver only in film clips. That’s not to say Philippe didn’t reach out to them.

    “Well, we tried,” he told us. “We tried numerous times and it just didn’t work out. It’s fine.”

    “The thing about Memory is that it’s essentially a cinematic essay about the extraordinary symbiosis that took place between Dan O’Bannon, H.R. Giger and Ridley Scott that gave us Alien. So two of them are sadly gone and had we had Ridley on board, I think it would have perhaps thrown the whole thing off balance a little bit. So sometimes serendipity works in mysterious ways. The fact that Ridley didn’t come on board this particular project, of course, made me sad at a certain point. The more I progressed in the making of this film and then eventually realized that we were not going to be able to get an interview with him, it felt serendipitous. It felt like it’s probably the right thing for this particular project.”

    How about Weaver, you ask?

    “We went back to Sigourney after we had gotten the news that we got into Sundance and we were going to premiere at Sundance,” Philippe said. “The thing about people like Sigourney Weaver or Ridley Scott is they’re very busy people. Any film that you make about a Hollywood film where you have to chase certain celebrities, sometimes they just decline. Sometimes they just don’t want to do it and sometimes it just doesn’t work out schedule-wise. You have to honor that but on our end, I have a story to tell. If I felt that Sigourney or Ridley were necessary to tell the story, then, of course, I would still be chasing them now and we wouldn’t have a film today. Even though the film is very much about them, this is an origin story. This is really very much a film about Dan. It’s a film about mythology. It’s a film about Giger. It’s a film about all the early influences that essentially got into Alien. So the story was told. As much as I would have loved to have them in the film, there’s a point where you have to go, ‘You know, we have to deliver a film to our sales agent and to Sundance by a certain date and the story’s been told, so there’s going to be no Sigourney, no Ridley.”

    Since Philippe found archival interviews with Scott, O’Bannon, Giger and John Hurt, certainly there are DVD bonus features of Weaver available. There were, but they didn’t make the final cut.

    “Most of the footage that we have and the stills that we have in the film were provided by the O’Bannon estate and the Giger estate. Both of them have been partners. They’re executive producers on the project. Everything else is fair use. At one point in the cut, we did have a clip of Sigourney. It didn’t pass the fair use test according to our lawyers so we had to remove it. That’s the way it goes. You don’t question the fair use lawyers. I’m really glad though that Ridley has a presence in the film through archival footage which to me feels very balanced between Ridley and Dan and Giger. They all have that sort of archival presence. It’s almost like a transmission from outer space if you will. Sigourney obviously has a major presence in the form of film clips.”

    The deleted Weaver clip came during the film’s discussion of the chest burster scene.

    “It was a really nice soundbite,” he said. “It just wasn’t anything that was essential in the telling of our story and I think that’s why our lawyers probably said, ‘We’re going to remove that.”

    Memory actually began as an analysis of the chest burster scene, it’s worth noting, similar to Philippe’s focus on the Psycho shower scene in 78/52. The doc ended up expanding beyond that one scene, but the iconic moment is still very much a centerpiece of Philippe’s film.

    “The argument of the film is that all of that hinged on the success of that one scene. Had the execution of that scene failed, everything would have fallen apart. There is no successful Alien without a successful, believable chest burster scene and therefore there is no Alien franchise without a successful chest burster scene.”

    Ben Manckiewicz even reads O’Bannon’s description of the chest burster in the script out loud.

    “It’s beautifully written first of all,” Philippe said. “Dan O’Bannon never gets enough credit. He’s a beautiful writer. If you look back at his early drafts, it’s fascinating to be able to witness his process. There are so many different incarnations of Alien as a story, so many alternate endings. He really dug very, very deep into what this movie could be. I gotta say, that scene jumps out of you. The prose, it’s remarkable to me how short it is, and yet when you read it, you can see the scene unfolding in your head pretty much exactly the way that it came out.”

    Scott and Weaver may not have given new interviews for Memory, but they are aware of the film. And now that it’s got Sundance buzz, Scott is going to watch it.

    “What makes me very happy is that a couple of executives from Scott Free came to the premiere, loved the film and apparently Ridley requested to see it so we sent him the link just yesterday,” Philippe said. “I’m very excited about sharing the film with him and I really hope that he will like it.”

    https://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/3543550/sundance-memory-origins-alien-didnt-need-ridley-scott-sigourney-weaver-exclusive/
  6. RidgeTop
    Saw it today, really enjoyed it. The documentary has its own identity unique from all the behind-the-scenes material we've seen before. Memory was very much an art-house style exploration into the feelings that Alien evokes, the symbolism, the ties to mythology. Some great new interviews with Veronica Cartwright, Tom Skerritt, Diane O'Bannon and Carmen Giger. It also goes into the early concepts for Alien and how the story was developed.

    I really liked how Dan O'Bannon was finally in the spotlight here, and Giger alongside him. There is a pretty strange opening featuring the "Three Furies" in a set inspired by the Nostromo. They use this Nostromo-style set a few times in the documentary, showing clips from some behind the scenes material we've already seen to emphasize their points.

    It's definitely worth a watch, but I do feel it could have used a bit more run time to more thoroughly explore the material, the movie got lost a bit with the "Alien means this!" bits from a number of film-major types they interviewed. Jodorowsky's Dune documentary (slightly referenced in this) really nailed this concept, and I feel like Memory got most of the way there, but not quite all of the way. Still, I hope it sees a wide-release sometime soon, regardless of a few shortcomings from my own personal expectations, it was a real treat.

    I'll be writing a more detailed review this week.
  7. Xenomorphine
    Question for Alexandre O. Philippe -

    In regards to Covenant's chestburster, it seems that Scott's intention there was a subversion of the original chestburster; presenting the creature as a thing of beauty not something to be feared or reviled, what are your thoughts on that?

    The reasoning behind it was a lot more superficial than that:

    Quote from: Ridley Scott, 'Alien Covenant' Official Collector's Magazine
    How do I make it better than that? I felt it had to be more of a creature with arms and legs.

    The posing and choreography was presenting it as a miracle-of-life thing, from David 8's perspective, but the thought behind changing the design was a relatively shallow one.
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