"The Tomita Planets"

Leading from Alien

Admiration for The Tomita Planets


a) Ridley Scott had been introduced to the music of Isao Tomita by his film editor Terry Rawlings, and wanted to use the music from his album The Planets, which was basically Tomita's electronic interpretation of Holst's Planets suite which was released in 1976. But because he wasn't very well known to Fox Studios and certainly his music hadn't been used in movies by then, it wasn't used.

b) Ridley was very inspired by Tomita's rendition of Mars The Bringer of War. He especially wanted to use this piece because for him it was all about the Alien .

  1. Dan O'Bannon: Fox did see a lot of similarity between Alien and Star Wars, and between Alien and The Omen. They picked it up in the first place because they figured they could tap two hot markets. A lot of people thought that John Williams should write the score. The director, Ridley Scott and I wanted a Japanese composer named Tomita. I understand that Jerry Goldsmith is doing the music now. (Starlog, June 1979, p21)
  2. Dan O'Bannon: Probably the reason Fox didn't get Tomita is their reluctance to deal with folks who are not 'movie people.' I had the same difficulty convincing Fox to get Giger to design the alien. (Starlog, June 1979, p22)
  3. Cinefantastique:  Was it Dan O'Bannon who was pushing for you to use the music of a composer named Tomita? Specifically Tomita's overwhelming rendition of Holst's "The planets", the Mars Bringer of War section?

    Isao Tomita
    Ridley Scott: Actually I was, Tomita was first brought to my attention by editor Terry Rawlings, who was my sound editor on THE DUELLISTS. He brought in "The Planets." It was so powerful and outrageous. That music said all there was to say about what the alien was. Imagine many of them, a lot of them, having the capability of getting about. Christ almighty! I think Tomita's music evokes that. I was talked out of using it, finally, for various reasons, and went for more conventional genre route in film music. It worked out quite well, though. (Cinefantastique V9:1 p14)

Working with Tomita's Planets


a) At the beginning of Alien, there is a scene where two computer appear to be in conversation with one another as Ridley took the idea from the beginning of Mars Bringer of War where there are two robot like voices chatting away with one another


b) Ridley was working with Sigourney Weaver filming the sequence in Alien where she rushes around the corridors of the Nostromo that's on the verge of self destruction and soon comes face to face with the Alien beast and he thought to himself "whatever I can do right now, she's on her own",

Since Ridley loved Tomita's Planets album which he was playing in the editing room as a temp score and he loved Mars Bringer Of War, he wanted to use it to help Sigourney with her performance in the end sequence where Ridley said to Sigourney "Do you want some assistance?"

She replied "Yeah"

"Well" Ridley added "listen to this, I've been playing Tomita in the editing room as a temp track, er temp score"
  
Sigourney replied "Absolutely, anything like that would be brilliant"

Ridley then said "Look, I can organize half a dozen fifteen inch speakers down the side of the set and I've got this great piece of music which you may find extremely useful, 'cause not only does it sound like engines. It is extremely threatening and ominous."


And Sigourney Replied "Anything like that, what is it? let me hear it
"

Source Quotes
  1. Ridley Scott: "I wanted the alien to have certain kind of fascination and delicacy like this massive toy coming towards her, which was mesmerising, and I put this music up for her which seemed to help her so er. In fact when I got into the Nostromo, and also into the shuttle at the end, I lined the edge of the set with fifteen inch speakers and I played Tomita in the, in the er, in the er shuttle, absolutely full ball, so rather than silent set and me shouting action and Sigourney rushing around in silence, i said "do you want some assistance?', she said "Yeah", and I said "well listen to this" and I had The Planets by Tomita, and she liked that, because then it helped her, it just helped her to have the, that massive orchestration around her, it was, we had it right up and of course making Sigourney a very lonely figure." (Alien 20th Anniversary DVD director's commentary)
  2. (1:41:29 / 1:45:20) Sigourney Weaver: I loved that the music that you've picked and

    (1:41:31 / 1:45:22) Ridley Scott: Yuh, yuh, yuh

    (1:41:32 /1:45:22) Sigourney Weaver: what was the music?

    (1:41:33 /1:45:24) Ridley Scott: We used Tomita. Because I said, I remember saying about, we talked about this before, 'cause I was thinking, "whatever I can do right now, she's on her own",

    (1:41:41/ 1:45:33) Sigourney Weaver: mmhmm

    (1:41:43 / 1:45:34) Ridley Scott: right, so I said, "I've been playing Tomita in the editing room as a temp track, er temp score," Tomita.... you know who that is right? And he'd done Planets,  

    (1:41:53 / 1:45:43) Sigourney Weaver: yes

    (1:41:53 /1:45:44) Ridley Scott: and one of them was Holst's "War of The Worlds", War of the worlds was, no , not War Of The Worlds, Holst' s Mars , god of war is (01:42:00)

    (1:42:01 /1:45:46) Sigourney Weaver:right, right,right

    (1:42:01 /1:45:46) Ridley Scott
    : Mars                                                                                                                                        (1:42:02 /1:45:47) Sigourney Weaver: Which we used a lot in er Alien 3, I think                                                            
    (1:42:05 /
    1:45:50) Ridley Scott: Yuh, and I said, do you want... and I was very tentative about this, about suggesting it and I was really amazed when you said "absolutely, anything like that would be brilliant" and I said "Look, I can (1:46:00) organize half a dozen fifteen inch speakers down the side of the set and I've got this great piece of music..."

    (1:42:21 / 1:46:06) Sigourney Weaver: Mmm

    (1:42:22 / 1:46:06) Ridley Scott: which you may find extremely useful, 'cause not only does it sound like engines.

    (1:42:27 / 1:46:12) Sigourney Weaver: Mmm

    (1:42:28 / 1:46:13) Ridley Scott: It is extremely threatening and ominous,

    (1:42:30  / 1:46:15) Sigourney Weaver:Mmm
      
    (1:42:31 / 1:46:16) Ridley Scott: And you said "erruurr anything like that, what is it? let me hear it" bang and we used that, and but it drew the sound guys crazy because everything had to be re-loo... whatever.
    (Alien Blu-ray Anthology and Quadrilogy mixed commentary)

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