a) Visions on the plane over to Hollywood
Vincent Ward signed on in April 1991 hopped on an aeroplane and during the flight, he had an idea that was totally different from the previous Alien movies.
After the Navigator, a film in which people from the 14th century time travel into modern day New Zealand, he then wrote a book (Edge of Earth) and started exploring more medieval imagery, and there were some engravings and other images that he came across.
One was of a devil being cast out of someone's mouth. While he was in the plane, some of these images came to his mind and by the time he got to LA he had a complete story.
b) Bosch like vision of a monks on a wooden planetoid
In the story, Ripley would land in a community of Trappist monks in outer space, it was a sort of a world inspired by the work of Hieronymous Bosch and she would not be accepted by them, and he imagined that these months would be upon a wooden planetoid in space for his Alien 3 concept, however exactly what the planetoid made from wood was doing in space was not wholly understood by Giler and Hill.
Ward imagined that it had a lot of technology at the centre of it controlling the basics such as gravity and air, but it was all rotting, and then the surface world was like second century AD Turkey, controlled by a group of ascetic monks who were pre-medieval, and their buildings and machines were all made of wood.
Most of their work was done by using wooden mills and affectively pre-twelfth century machinery and physical labour, so everything was hard. And it would be the situation of instead of having one button that does a thousand things, they have a thousand people do that together do one thing.
c) The monks back story
They've chosen to live the hard way as much as they possibly could.
They didn't believe in changing their ways and were generally outcasts the government wanted to get rid of.
So, the government gave them a disused satellite, which the monks would adapt into an internal cathedral-esque wooden space that gives them the feeling of a higher dimension and being closer to God.
So they've left Earth behind, books on Earth were dying out and so the monks are preserving all the books,
|Cutaway drawing of the wooden planet|
d) Idea about the satellite
The huge round satellite named Arceon, is about a mile in diameter might have about 16 floors , each one about one hundred metres high.
It's layered like an ant's nest or a bee hive and each layer had been largely clad with huge areas of sculpted wood.
They can grow wheat there, and even have windmills and orchards.
In a way it's like a monastery that looks like a meteorite on the outer surface.
The satellite has a range of technologies that allow it to survive in outer space, it has a means of dealing with gravity, and a means of dealing with air, and it has a low surface atmosphere.
e) Studio people's response to his ideas
They would ask him "what's your vision for the movie?" and his response would have been "It's Hieronymous Bosch, it's men with goats head and dogs bodies".
The studio people not having much of a clue about Bosch all responded "cool!" and he showed them the drawings and again they were amazed "awesome drawings!"
David Giler thought it was a little far out but that was what they wanted, to push this thing a bit.
Effects art director David Jones had a hard time with it the idea of a shallow atmosphere on the planet understanding that atmosphere has to be built up over thousands of feet.
- Vincent Ward: At the time I was working on Map with my co-writer. I was broke, I'd spent a lot of money on going to the Arctic and interviewing anthropologists and dam-buster bomber pilots, and we were driving each other crazy. I was living in this basement in Australia, and the phone call came and I turned it down. But then they rang me back and said, 'We'll send you the script anyway.' I read it, I said no again. And then they rang me back a third time, and said, 'You can change the script if you like.' Well, by this time that basement was driving me crazy, so I said yes just to get out.' (www.independent.co.uk/ Thursday 27 May 1993)
- Vincent Ward: Because my head was kind of in the Middle Ages with The Navigator and with a book (The autobiographical Edge of the Earth) I'd just written, I thought what would happen if you took a group of monks who were pre-medieval, ddn't believe in changing their ways and were generually outcasts the government wanted to get rid of? So, they gave them a disused satellite, which the monks would adapt into an internal cathedral-esque wooden space that gives them the feeling of a higher dimension and being closer to God (Scifinow, p116)
- Vincent Ward:After The Navigator I wrote a book (Edge Of The Earth), and started exploring more medieval imagery, and I came across engravings and so on that I hadn't seen before. One of them was of a devil being cast out of someone's mouth. So on the plane over some of these images came to mind. By the time I got to LA, I had a complete story (www.empireonline.com/)
- Vincet Ward: So I hopped on an airplane and during the flight, I had an idea that was totally different, Sigourney Weaver would land in a community of monks in outer space and not be accepted by them. (Premiere May 1992, p66 and later www.empireonline.com/)
- Clint: So, what did you have in mind?
Vincent: It was sort of a retro film. She [Ripley] was with monks in a strange wooden orbiting vehicle…with a monk commune, in a wooden orbiting satellite, really. They decided to do everything the hard way, because they were monks, but they did have basic technology so they could survive. Then, in a world where people believe in devils – where she doesn’t, comes the alien. I think it would’ve been quite amazing.(moviehole.net/)
- Vincent Ward: It was like a Bosch world - it had a lot of technology at the centre of it, controlling basics like gravity and air, but it was all rotting, and the surface world was like second century AD Turkey, controlled by an ascetic sect of monks whose buildings and machines were all made of wood. (www.independent.co.uk/ Thursday 27 May 1993)
- Vincent Ward: It struck me that it would be possible to take the elements of the Alien story and overlay a whole Christian mythos on it, and it would fit perfectly. So these monks see a star in the East, which is Ripley's escape craft, and it crashes down in a lake, and you carry on from there. (www.independent.co.uk/ Thursday 27 May 1993)
- Vincent Ward:What if this Alien had been encountered somewhere in the distant past on Earth? People would have thought of it as some kind of devil. Then, what if you had like a sort of powerful sect on Earth (in the future of the Alien movies) who reject all technology beyond a certain date. So the ruling forces say to the sect, 'Okay, you wanna live this way? We have an old satellite - huge thing. We'll tow it into outer space and you can just live there on your own.' They just give them a place to live where they know inevitably they're gonna die. (www.empireonline.com/)
- Vincent Ward: The sect agree, but they believe in having an environment that looks archaic. Within that environment - a huge, round satellite about a mile in diameter - you have maybe 16 floors, each one about 100 metres high. It's layered like an ant's nest, or bee's nest, and each layer has been largely clad with huge areas of sculpted wood. They can grow wheat there, and even have windmills and orchards. In a way it's like a monastery. The satellite [named 'Arceon'] has a range of technologies that allow it to survive in outer space: it has a means of dealing with gravity, and a means of dealing with air, and it has a low surface atmosphere. It looks like a meteorite on the outer surface. (www.empireonline.com/)
This , At er comes out around, what, 1988, and somewhere around here, you get noticed
at least is what I’m imagining, you get involved with the Alien 3 project,
how did that kind of come about, how did that happen for you?Vincent Ward: Well after The Navigator, I had a lot of , you know, I was offered a lot of projects, erm, a lot of big studio films, a meeting with Spielberg, I had , erm, you know, a lot of, I can’t remember, there’s so many of them that sort of came my way, and I didn’t really want to do a genre film. When I was approached by Alien 3, I kind of turned it down, I said sort of “Oh, I’m not really interested” and, but they kept coming back to me and saying, "look, there’s a terrific opportunity", I had an agent then who was, erm, er, Ridley’s Scott’s agent, had a number of other , you know, well known directors, and he just said, "you’re mad, you’ve got to do it," and I said “well, I hate the story that I've got”. So, I, op, they flew me across to Los Angeles and on the plane, I had an idea, erm, which was, what would happen if you went almost in an opposite direction from most science fiction films and instead of having one button that does a thousand things, you have a thousand people that do one thing, you know, the idea that you have a monastery of monks in outer space who refused to do things overtly with modern technology, and even though they had modern technology at the hub of the environment, so that they can control gravity and oxygen. most of the work is done by using wind-mills, and affectively pre-twelfth century machinery and physical labour, so everything is hard. They’ve chosen to live the hard way as much as they could possibly can, and that was the concept.Interviewer: When you arrive and you have this concept, how’s this kind of accepted, Did they decide to run with this thing right away?Vincent Ward: Yeah, absolutely. They knew that the script they had was tired and they were looking for something fresh, I mean, what had been wonderful about Alien one was, was that, it was that it was so fresh, and what was great about Alien 2 was that it took it in a completely different direction and just allowed for a wonderful and extraordinary world for an audience to enter and get lost in, and also, once you put an alien in the heart of it, killing all those monks, it would be, you know it was clear that it would be truly terrifying.http://projection-booth.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/episode-228-alien3.html)
- Vincent Ward : I took the idea that Ripley arrives in a word that makes her believe in evil and sees the alien as the devil rather than the organism it is. When things start to go wrong, the monks believe that Ripley has brought something 'evil' into their midst, and as her health diminishes she too begins to feel that somehow she is responsible. (Scifinow, p116)
- Vincent Ward: I never really liked Newt in Aliens, I thought she was kind of annoying, and so wisely or unwisely I had her dead on arrival. Instead, I liked the idea that here was a woman who was middle ages, had outlasted her daughter by birth and where everyone she'd ever felt close to had died. Understandably, she felt she'd missed out and not had the life of a woman she would have liked. (Scifinow, p116)
- Vincent Ward: The film I had in mind was a two hander. It was very much Ripley's film, but this monk was a pragmatists with a scientific bent who empathises with her. (Scifinow, p118)
- Vincent Ward: She was sitting on the fence as to whether she was going to do any further alien films. So we talked about two different scenarios; one where she survived and one where she died. The studio didn't want her to die, but she was drawn to the idea that she was destroyed and open to the fact that her character was going through a personal crisis. (Scifinow, p118)
- Vincent Ward: She said Ripley is simply trying to get through the day and survive these extraordinary circumstances, which was great for me because it wasn't as if he was trying to be a hero or the centre of attention. (Scifinow, p118)