Alien: Chris Foss inspiration for the Nostromo

leading from

The Nostromo

a) Ron Cobb borrowed from Chris Foss
Chris Foss, before Ridley Scott dropped him from the production, had been creating many concept drawings for the design of the Nostromo.

When they needed to design the final thing, although Foss was no longer directly involved, Brian Johnson went away with Chris Foss' and Ron Cobb's designs to build the final spaceship.

While Cobb's exterior design that appears loosely inspired by Foss' work was used for the Nostromo,  one can find that features from Chris Foss' other designs found their way into the ship.

Ron Cobb's earlier Nostromo
final Nostromo sketch on yellow paper by Ron Cobb
    b) Upper Thrusters and main body shape
    The main M shape of the Nostromo is near enough borrowed from the vessel below left with "Fountain Line" written along the side of it's "Proton Drive" engine, while the upper engines upon the Nostromo are noticeably very reminiscent of Chris Foss' snake like space ship that's segmented like a train. However Chris Foss put this M shape  down to the shape of an aircraft part used, rather than something from his own artwork

    Tug with enigmatic upper engines

    Nostromo's upper engine intake openings

    The "Fountain Line" tug

    c) The Engine Intakes
    A point about the design for the Nostromo is that maybe it can be said to resemble a gothic tomb.

    Chris Foss had drawn numerous designs for ships with cavernous intake openings for engines, but one with the most haunting features is his design for a pyramid interior with the sloping ends of vast rectangular tunnels that taper to the rectangular mouths of these entrances.

    Perhaps here we are seeing the origins of the characteristic engine intake openings.

    (See Chris foss alien temple-interior for more images)

    detail from pyramid temple interior

    Chris Foss pyramid temple interior

    d) Nostromo's initial colour of yellow
    The Nostromo model initially went through a yellow paint scheme that Jon Sorensen acknowledged was inspired by Chris Foss' designs. 

    e) Also read the section Yellow Nostromo

    untitled painting by Chris Foss
    used on the cover of  E.E. 'Doc' Smith's
    novel "Planet of Treacher"

    1. Den Of Geek: So the Nostromo's kind of 'M'-shape was just taken from an aircraft part...?

      Chris Foss:
      That's it. Because I've worked on so many other films where the shots are so important and so on, but on this particular one...
Ridley Scott noticed that The Who were down there making a film, and he was fascinated by all the bits and pieces that were going on with that. The Who, of course, had discovered lasers, and that's why you've got all these smoke-effects and swirl-effects, and [Scott] just couldn't be arsed about the spaceship and all that crap. So the poor sod who had to build it said 'Right, fuck that', got himself a whole load of paper, and bodged something together from the bits and pieces of a wrecked helicopter.
    2. Ron Cobb: The truth of the matter is, as Chris said, we both influenced each other, I think I borrowed from him more than he borrowed from me. .(Ron Cobb, Den Of Interview)
    3. Wmmvrrvrrmm: Also I keep thinking about how the Nostromo model when it went through it's yellow paint scheme reminds me of Chris Foss' paintings, he has been known to paint yellow spacecrafts. I wonder if the paint scheme was inspired by his work (Alien, June 21, 2009)
      Jon Sorenson: Absolutely correct! It was inspired by Chris Foss' designs.(Alien, June 24, 2009)

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