This past June marked the 40th anniversary of the release of Alien (1979) in North American theatres. Alien was one of a number of popular science fiction movies that came out hot on the heels of Star Wars. In fact, Alien came from the same studio as Star Wars. Producers hoped that blockbuster space movies would be something of a trend, but Alien stood out because it was a space horror; a sort of haunted house movie on a spaceship with a monster. Of course, fans know that there’s more to Alien than that, and a new documentary knows it too.
In Memory: The Origin of Alien, director Alexandre O. Philippe explores all aspects of Ridley Scott’s seminal work, from its initial concept and script by screenwriter Dan O’Bannon (Dead and Buried, Dark Star) to the ground-breaking creature effects work by H.R. Giger. The documentary also explores the legacy of Alien from its feminist themes, to its allegories of sexual assault, to its use of the idea of the “lived-in” future.
Here’s the official synopsis for Memory: The Origin of Alien:
Memory: The Origins of Alien unearths the largely untold origin story behind Ridley Scott’s cinematic masterpiece, and reveals a treasure trove of never-before-seen materials from the archives of Alien creators Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger – including original story notes, rejected designs and storyboards, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, and O’Bannon’s original 29 page script from 1971, titled Memory. The documentary also takes fans on an exploration of the mythical underpinnings of Alien and dedicates focus on the film’s iconic “Chestburster” scene.
This kind of deep dive into a film’s legacy is not new territory for director Philippe. His previous films include The People Vs George Lucas, which is about the creative decisions behind the Star Wars prequels, and 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene, which is a deep dive into the making of the iconic shower scene from Psycho. Memory: The Origin of Alien includes contributions from Alien stars Tom Skerrit and Veronica Cartwright, as well as screenwriters O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, plus cultural commentators like TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz and Collider’s Clark Wolfe.
Memory: The Origin of Alien has already appeared at Sundance and Hot Docs, and it will next appear at Fantastic Fest 2019, which begins on Thursday, September 19 in Austin, TX. Memory: The Origin of Alien will then be released in limited theatres before hitting VOD October 4, 2019. Are you an Alien fan looking forward to the Alien doc? Tell us about it on Twitter, on the official NOFS Reddit, or The Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!