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Memory: The Origins of Alien - Memory: The Origins of Alien(DVD) [Dogwoof - 2019]

In 1979 one of the most iconic science fiction horror movies of all time was released. A claustrophobic tour de force set aboard the spacecraft the Nostromo that would change both horror and science fiction cinema forever. That film was Ridley Scott’s Alien, a film whose influence and legacy can be felt in every aspect of popular culture from film to advertising and beyond. Memory: The Origins of Alien is a feature-length documentary that takes the analysis of that film and its themes dissect them and rummages around inside until it uncovers chest-bursting levels of interesting information about the film’s genesis and production.

One of the most interesting aspects for me was the section that delves into Dan O’Bannon and the development of the ideas that would lead to the Alien screenplay. O’ Bannon is a character I have known of for many years not least because of Alien but also for his work on John Carpenter’s Dark Star, Dead and Buried, Return of the Living Dead and numerous other horror and sci-fi classics. It’s fascinating to see that in his early years he assisted his Father in faking a UFO sighting and that many of the ideas for Alien that have become so iconic were inspired by things from his childhood, classic EC comics, old science fiction films and the writing of H.P. Lovecraft. O’Bannon’s script is truly the basis of the whole film and a great starting point for the documentary.

Another big positive for me is the amount of Giger’s concept art on show here, it remains one of the key factors in bringing the Alien imagery to life. It remains an integral part of the film’s development and I would argue that without Giger the film may not have had the impact it had. His sets and his design for the Alien herself have become so synonymous with the series of films that his influence is felt in every sequel, every prequel, every comic book, and every video game that the original film has inspired. One thing that surprises me a little about Memory is the lack of interviews with both the film’s star, Sigourney Weaver and director Ridley Scott, although it is really interesting to hear the likes of O’Bannon speaking about the film and its production. Most previous documentaries have featured a great deal of material featuring both Weaver and Scott and I have perhaps heard everything both have to say on the topic already.

Overall, this is an enjoyable documentary that takes an alternative look at a sci-fi horror classic, delving into its genesis and the myriad of ideas that led to its creation from pulp sci-fi to classic myths and legends, it all plays into Dan O’Bannon’s original story and screenplay that was so expertly executed by Ridley Scott and a terrific cast and crew. If ever there were a film where the stars aligned and a group of individuals were brought together to create something so special, this was it. Alexandre O. Philippe’s love poem to one of the greatest films of all time is a beautiful thing, but it still doesn’t feel like this story has finished.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Darren Charles
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