The Design Of The Derelict

Ridley's Initial Idea
a) Ridley Scott : " I took the drawing of the space ship off a section of one of Giger'spaintings, 'cause we couldn't work out what the hell the spaceship was going to look like,  and so I was staring at his book, the Necronomicon, and he'd drawn something up that almost looked like a musical instrument, so I kind of drew around that, and said "what about this, it looks like a giant croissant, but actually it worked, like a boomerang." (Alien DVD commentary)

Giger's design
b) Giger created the final image that looked as if it were something planted that was on the verge of maturing.
  1. H. R. Giger: "Once the alien was under control, Ridley asked me if I could design a spaceship not made by human beings. Well how do you do that? I thought maybe it might look organic - something that could grow even, like a plant *- but I didn't know exactly what it should look like. Then early one morning I couldn't sleep, I got up and started painting and the derelict ship was born in a few hours. It ended up like an aerodynamic bone with little technical stuff all over it, but it wasn't anything I had planned - it just sort of ran out of my mind and my airbrush, which is not uncommon for me. Often I try to switch off my thoughts as much as possible and let the painting flow spontaneously from my subconscious mind.(Cinefex 1)  
  2. H R Giger: " I wanted it to look like something planted - perhaps in the process of maturing" (Warren's Alien Collector's edition , p32) 

Ridley's Criterea
c) In regards to what we assume to be engines sticking out like arms either side of the main hull of the vessel, they might not be engines at all. Scott didn't want this to be obvious, because he had seen some photos of what seemed to be UFOs and he was mystified because he had no idea how these things could be powered.

  1. Fantastic Films: "What are the criterian for credibility in the design of alien spacecraft?" 

  2. Ridley Scott : "I have come to accept a wide variety of possibilities. And strangely enough, the more mundane something is, the more it can sometimes stagger people. Simplicity can be more powerful than you think. Take a UFO for example. How do you design it so people believe it? One of the best UFO shots is one from the thirties with the portholes. It looks like an inverted plate with a sort of cap on it *. And oddly enough it's rather archaic, it appeals to me as a solution, rather than an incredibly refined, sleek spacecraft. I like the idea of a spaceship where you've got no idea what kind of energy drives it and you've never seen anything quite like it before. " (Fantastic Films (UK)# 3, (US) No.12, p27) 
    Adamski's Venusian Scoutship
  3. Ridley was probably talking about George Adamski's photographs of flying saucers such as the Venusian Scoutship that were taken in the early 1950s.

For a detailed look at the development of the 
derelict exterior design see Design of the Derelict

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