Alien: Trying to override
the detonation procedure

Leading from
Alien: Making the Movie   

a) In the climactic scene, the last human survivor, Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, flees from the Alien into the engine room of Nostromo, which is about to be blown up by a power overload. Scott tucked himself into a corner of the tiny set and squatted on the floor with the camera for a low angle shot. At a nod from Scott, his assistant commanded, "Quiet and still, please, boys. Camera turning."

 b) Weaver rushed in, flamethrower in hand, rapidly unscrewed two Perspex covers on the wall and pulled two red levers, then ran across the engine room to open a hatch cover on the floor ( cuing in a blast of Co2, and a flood of white neon light). Reaching down, she pressed some buttons, paused, then ran out into the corridor through a storm of steam and flashing lights.

c) Between takes - the drama briefly spent - technicians and prop men quickly attended to the mechanics that make the illusion possible. The hatch cover was closed (operated by a string), the Co2 "steam" canisters were placed in readiness, and Scott, with a smile, reminded Weaver not to forget her flamethrower, as she had done in a previous take.

d) "Whenever I could" Weaver said during a break "I've tried to play Ripley as a soldier. I had to take on the mentality of someone who knows that at any moment the end is coming, that everything is going to fly up in her face. No time to think about the people who have been list. I've never been in battle, but I imagine the same kind of thing happens when you're on the battlefield."

 e) Each day at the end of the shooting, Scott would get into a parley with his technicians to plan the next day's work. One evening he walked through the gadget-studded corridor of the star ship Nostromo toward a dark octagonal chamber pierced by a golden ladder. There were problems; An empty-ended corridor spilled into a cluttered sound stage and insufficient light. Scott frowned - his hands pouched deep in his shiny green parka - as he wandered around the dim chamber.

f) 'We could put a closed white hatch at the end and seal it off, " he said.

Art director Roger Christian suggested an angled mirror which, if properly placed, would extend the corridor obliquely into infinity. Scott liked the idea and nodded. Then he pondered the light. Gazing around, he fixed his eyes censoriously on a heavy. gadget-encrusted door.

"Let's take that out and put a sheet of white paper there - with some spotlights behind it."

"Won't it look too sunny," someone objected, "too much like a garden window?"

"At this point in the film, " Scott replied " everyone will be so deep in hyperspace that no one will be thinking of gardens" (American Film, March 1979, p21-22)

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