Review for Memory: The Origins of Alien
Alien is one of the best Horror/ Science Fiction films of all time. This documentary looks at the creation of the film from the original idea from writer Dan O'Bannon to the making of the film. During this, a number of academics look at the subtext of this film with influences from Egyptian and Greek mythology, inspirations from the past science fiction films and art from Francis Bacon.
Now, I should say if you are looking for a specific indepth look into the creation of the film then this is not going to fill that void. There is an excellent documentary on the Alien Bluray boxset for this. However, there is a fantastic look at the chestburster scene and how it was created.
Instead of a step by step look at the making of the film, this is more of an indepth analysis of what the film means. We look at the significance of Ripley as one of the few strong female protaganists and how the dynamic of the crew and the working class elements has an effect on the film.
There is a fascinating look at what inspired Dan O'Bannon and how he came from a 29 page script called Memory and with the help of Ronald Shusett created one of the greatest horror or science fiction films. In some ways, there is a little too much focus on O'Bannon's early life and this feels like a documentary on his life which just so happens to include a discussion of the Alien film. This is not a bad thing as you can see how he went from a film like Dark Star which was more of a comedy to this very intense horror/slasher film. Though it is odd that nothing is made of the fact that apart from Return of the Living Dead and Total Recall his output is fairly minimal.
Throughout the documentary, many people talk about the making of the film from the effects crew and it is just a shame that only Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright are the only actors to contribute new interviews. They do include excerpts from Director Ridley Scott, Alien Designer HR Giger, John Hurt and others from previous documentaries.
I enjoyed this documentary, but there was a part of me that felt that more could have been said and if this had been maybe another hour they could have looked at more aspects of the film. It is odd that it was not longer as the film is so beloved that I'm sure most people would have happily watched more about the creation of it. That being said, it is a great analysis of the film's impact and if you are studying the film it will point you in some interesting directions.
It is a shame that it is not official as this could have easily been added to any of the Alien boxsets as an extra feature and you will no doubt go and watch the film again, as I did. This is definitely a film documentary worth a watch and for fans of the original Alien film you will no doubt love the indepth analysis of a true cinema classic.