Alien : Egg Silo and the Derelict
squeezed into one


a) Wrecked Construction Of Non Human Manufacture 
Originally in the alien script, the men discover a crashed derelict spacecraft and they enter it and discover that the alien occupants are all dead. 

They return to their own ship to contemplate what may have killed the alien crew and then they discover a pyramid on the plant which appears to be indigenous and it's primitive. 

They enter the pyramid and there they find the spores

In the movie, the Earthmen discover what Dan O'Bannon would refer to as a "wrecked construction of non-human manufacture" that we might assume is the remains of a space craft, and inside they find the spores. 

By Dan's point of view, it was no long easy to say what it was. 
Concept for egg silo exterior

b) Two Elements Squeezed Into One Sort Of Uneasy Entity.
Giger was brought in to design the pyramid and soon the derelict ship. 

The pyramid idea had given way to an extraordinary biomechanic breast shaped silo, still with the exterior and interior designed by Giger

Since the derelict and the silo both followed the biomechanic design of Giger, and budget cuts were necessary, further budget cuts took place and the two elements were merged together as if the silo were connected to the space jockey chamber from below the space jockey platform.

However the question about what it was remained important since the audience were being introduced to something very mysterious and interesting in the movie that would give clues about the alien as a species and a creature from another civilisation in its very elaborate and alien looking spacecraft as a victim. 

But the answers that had come out of it all were very very confusing.


Giger's sketch for the space jockey with silo entrance and  silo
c) Derelict Ship Infested By An Alien Insect Nest 
The derelict vessel that was once a space ship seemed no longer to be a space ship, no one could say any more about what it was when taking every detail about it into consideration because it was as if the cave below in the surface of of the planet itself had to be part of it, and so how can it take off with this underground cave attached to it and whoever built the ship were the architects of the cave as well.

Giger went along with the ideas being given to him about the derelict having been infested by aliens. 

With the silo and the derelict merged together, with a shaft connecting both the pilot chamber and the silo. 

It would be as if the derelict space ship had landed on an ant hill and the ants had eaten their way through the spacecraft like parasites in order to use the pilot at a host. 

Soon the spores would also be considered something placed inside the structure just as termites would do within the wall of a house.

(detail ) Giger's sketch for the space jockey

d) Theories from the Alien special effects team
So what was it now, a space ship that landed on the surface or was it something else a major part of it somehow buried beneath the ground? Special effects technician Jon Sorensen and Dennis Lowe had thoughts about it. 

Jon recalled that on the set , they felt that there was more of the Derelict buried under what was seen, it was just an opinion but Kane being lowered down to the egg chamber showed that. 

Dennis Lowe thought that the egg chamber was underneath the Derelict as well, especially in view of the scale ratio from the model of the derelict built at the Bray studios workshop, so he thought that it had probably grown from the biomechanical ship.

e) Discussions in hindsight
A journalist from Fantastic Films back at the time when Alien was released wondered if the derelict ship had come back to spawn on the planet. 

But Dan O'Bannon decided that whatever this place was that was a combination of a stationary pyramid fused with a crashed spacecraft that shouldn't have been put together like this, it was now a sort of a surrealist mystery which was his way of being polite about elements in the film where changes had been made to the story that didn't make any sense to him.

Perhaps one could look at Giger's paintings as a guide for this surrealism where he seemed to begin with one thing and merge it with another thing and both forms would become biomechanised by Giger's style and their original relevance atrophies.

Meanwhile Ridley Scott was keen to see something else in this  solution to the mystery was to imagine that the derelict ship with the silo was a battlewagon carrying spores in its cargo hold.  
(See: Alien: The end of the line, and back to the distant past)

Later film director Guillermo Del Toro would imagine that the derelict ship was part city of the Old Ones from Lovecraft's At The Mountains Of Madness and the space jockey was one of the Old Ones and the alien were the Shoggoth slave creatures that rebelled.  
(See: Guillermo del Toro talks about Lovecraft's influence on Alien)


Source Quotes
  1. Dan O'Bannon: In the movie, the Earthmen discover a wrecked, derelict spacecraft, actually no, that's not correct. In the movie, the men discover a wrecked construction of non human manufacture and inside of it they find eggs of the monster. In the original script, the men find the crashed derelict spacecraft and they enter it, they discover that the aliens are all dead. They return to their own ship to contemplate what may have killed the alien crew and then they discover a pyramid on the planet which appears to be indigenous and it's primitive. They enter the pyramid and there they find the eggs. (Fantastic Films 1o, p29) 
  2. Dan O'Bannon: They combined these two elements, they squeezed them into one sort of uneasy entity.
    Fantastic Film: The idea behind that, I would assume, being that the dangerous aliens were coming back to spawn.
    O'Bannon: No, they were two different races. In my script, it was a space going race that landed on this planet and had been wiped out by whatever was there, And now the Earthmen come and endanger themselves in the same way. In the new version, it's just a sort of a surrealist mystery.  (Fantastic Films 10 p29-30) 
  3. FX: What is the relationship between the Space Jockey and the Alien Eggs?
    HR Giger: They always told me that the Space Jockey was another alien race, so he is not part of the Alien or the Eggs. To save money, the Egg Chamber and the Space of the Egg Silo were the same . The inside of the Egg Silo were elements of my painting, and was actually the entrance to a round silo which ended up in another set. (FX, 7, 1999 (spanish magazine0 
  4. H R Giger: The egg silo and the space craft are now joined together, i.e. the astronauts enter through one of the three sewers, wind their way through the snail corridor, and find the corpse of the pilot which is twice as big as a human. Next to the seat of the pilot, there's a hole that leads into the depths of the silo.(The whole thing has been changed because the exterior views of the silo would have been too expensive!) So the silo was placed under the spacecraft, as if a mini UFO had landed on an anthill, and the ants had eaten their way through the spacecraft, like parasites, in order to use the pilot as a host. (Undated, perhaps around March 1978, Giger's Alien Diaries, p155, translation of p11, published 2013)
  5. H R Giger: Since the producers have now decided that the eggsilo is to be an integral part of the derelict, the shaft now forms a direct passage from the cockpit to the eggsilo.(27th June, 1978, Giger's Alien, p34)
  6. H R Giger: The broken floorboard, which looks like a turntable, is some 1.50 metres (five feet) above the floor. In the original script the egg silo was immediately below the cockpit , so that one of these holes in the floorboard acts as a way down for the astronaut unto the regions below him. (25th July, 1978, Giger's Alien, p34)
  7. H R Giger: We decided that it would be a good idea to have these eggs inside the derelict like termites within the wall of a house. (CFQ vol 9, no 1)
  8. H R Giger: So we designed another silo but then the budget wasn't big enough to include this structure so we decided it would be a good idea to have these eggs inside the derelict like termites inside the walls of the house. ( Warren Presents Alien collectors edition, p 31)
  9. kjohnson26: The things that kind of bugged me had more to do with stuff coming out of the changes in the script by different contributors over the long development time. It always seemed to me the egg chamber was too large and deep under the floor to be part of the derelict, instead it seemed to me to be in a cavern underneath the alien ship.
    Dennis Lowe:
    I thought the egg chamber was underneath the Derelict too, especially when you see the scale ratio from the model that was built at the Bray workshop and had probably grown from the bio mechanical ship.
    (http://www.prometheusforum.net/ May 2012 )
  10. Jon Sorenson: we always felt that there was more of the Derelict buried under what you saw...Kane being lowered down to the egg chamber showed you that. Just our opinion at the time. (Facebook , June 12th 2014)

3 comments:

  1. Great information, thanks! It's nice to know definitively that the space jockey was not written to be intentionally transporting the eggs, as some imagine.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Alterations made to the discussions about the mysteries of the derelict added today, discussing how Dan O'Bannon would leave it all as a surrealist mystery

    ReplyDelete