Alien: Umbilical

leading from



a) Ridley's Impessions
Ridley was a man very approachable and down to Earth.

Ridley was always trying to grasp words to describe verbally what he wanted in terms of picture and then he'd get frustrated and just grab a camera to do it himself and Ridley would come out with statements such as "no, I want is er, you know I want these umbilicals, all hanging you know, like you know an aliens 'umbly',

Then Guy Hudson who was one of the younger production members of staff who liked to poke fun at people and he would start behind doing impressions of Ridley behind his back. "what I want is these umbilicals and the like alien's like fucking you know hanging there, you know".

Someone pointed out, "Ridley's right behind you" and Ridley was there and Jon Sorensen saw how he accepted this behaviour without complaining, and so appreciated the way Ridley was able to handle this although Guy knew that he had been caught out.

Model of 7 month old foetus with umbilical cord
and placenta (source; www.anatomystuff.co.uk )

b) The Umbilical
Asked about the creature's intermediate stage, Ridley talked about the alien's tale being referred to as an "umbilical"  but it was not so much a tail in his point of view but a muscle of immense tensile strength and he wanted it to seem to look like an umbilical cord most probably more than a phallus. and it was in the scene where the creature comes down from the inside of the landing leg and kills

Brett that he had to make sure it seemed like an umbilical cord for the scene where the alien was suspended in the air in the shaft and the tail needed to hang down if the tail was going to suddenly come down between Brett's legs to pierce his spine.

It was here that tale like structure was certainly protruding from the creature's groin area. However we might ask if Ridley kept using the term "Umbilical" for the tail all the way through the production.



Quote source:
  1. Jon Sorenson: But was very quickly that Ridley Scott was a force to be reckoned with, he was so approachable, erm and seemed to be very down to Earth, there was no bluff and bluff, there, this was highlighted by the fact that one day Guy was doing one of his impersonations of him, and he said er, Ridley was,  he always trying to grasp and and and and and sort of describe verbally what he wanted in terms of pictures and then he'd get frustrated and he'd just grab the camera, you know do it himself, this is Ridley, and he said "no, I want is er, you know I want these umbilicals, all hanging you know, like you know an aliens 'umbly," anyway this was Guy doing this, he said "what I want is these umbilicals and the aliens like fucking you know, hanging there, you know " and "Ridley's right behind you", and he took it completely on the chin and I thought he was alright, and Guy was like that banished for a bit.  (Alien Makers I, (53:00 onwards))
  2. Fantastic Films: In the alien's intermediate stage, when it kills Brett, how did you plan to show its growth since "birth"?
    Ridley Scott: We wanted to show he was big, but we didn't want the audience to know how big. You're not quite sure whether he stands, hangs or what.  At that point we wanted the whole interest of the audience to be focused on the head and the "umbilical cord". It's really just a long muscle with immense tensile strength but it looks like an umbilical. (Fantastic Films, #12, p22)

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