Neil Marshall on Alien and Prometheus

I admit this article just rewriting Neil Marshall's words already published online in third person, but if and when he talks a bit more about the Alien movie, I can add them into this text
Director Neil Marshall. 

Seeing Alien
Neil Marshall was too young to see Alien when it first came out, but his uncle had, and would enthrall him with tales of strange planets, chestbursters and the unusual notion of a woman as the hero of a science fiction horror movie. He became hook but didn't manage to see Alien for the first time in 1982 when it was broadcast on television and he was 12 years of age, It surpassed all expectations for him.

Impressed
He found that the director Ridley Scott along with the artists H R Giger and Rob Cobb, working from a script by Dan O'Bannon set out to create two extremely very realistic and compelling future worlds, one human and the other alien, and then set them on a collision course with one another. There was nothing that ever seemed fake, and so the sts, the spacecrafts, the planet, the characters, the costumes, the peformances, all felt credible and authentic to him

Nostromo.
He was impressed by the way the opening of the movie would give the viewer a brief tour of the Nostromo's interior, that was a workhorse of the spaceways, both cumbersome and functional. Its corridors were claustrophobic, dark, wet and grimy. It felt every inch a lived in working environment and its rudimentary familiarity drew him into the story. Every inch of this world was about the get the humans, from the vacuum of space to the cornbread and the corporation, let alone the androids and alien beings. Space Travel would be no picnic.

The Crew
Neil could identify with all the characters , Ripely, Dallas, Ash, Kane, Parker, Brett and Lambert, who were all blue-collar workers. They bitched about money, food, and each other. Neil put this down to having spent months in Hypersleep. He was very glad that they were not just a bunch of teens in jeopardy and that they were not even that sympathetic, but instead were scratchy, sweaty, and stretched thin by months in close quarters confinement. They were flawed and therefore very human


The derelict ship
The derelict spacecraft, if that was it was, looked to Neil like something almost organic, and complete with several vagina-like portals through which the astronauts explorers access. He wondered if that meant it was a female spacecraft.  It had something that resembled a pilot, but also had a womb, loaded with eggs waiting for an unwitting human to stray inside and "fertilize"

The Space Jockey mystery
When Neil saw Alien, the thing that burrowed deepest into his mind was not the Alien creature, or the face-hugger or the spore, but instead it was the Space Jockey. He decided that it was an example of something unfathomable and even more incomprehensible than the alien itself which to him was basically a predator. He was asking the questions such as whether it had grown out of the chair and if its nose was apparently connected to its body in such a way that it could not move. It was in his mind something utterly and completely alien.

The Egg
Kane described the 'eggs' as "Round leather objects" . They seemed alive and were crowned with more vagina like orifices that opened up and ejaculated another alien organism, and so it was time to say hello to the Facehugger
 
The Facehugger
This little creature essentially killed you by raping the victims face and made them pregnant, and this was not limited to a female victim. So if the human was unlucky enough to be orally impregnated, then the process of giving birth was no less unpleasant and ultimately fatal. The alien could not be accused of being sexist. Any sex, any age, any thing was fair game.

The Chestburster
The birth of the chest burster was violent, painful and bloody, much had been said about the Chestburster's big entrance, and yet despite lifting all the veils of movie magic, it still retained the powr to shock and disturb. However, none of it would have been so convincing if it wasn't for John Hurt;s agonizing death throes and the rest of the cast looking on, dumbfounded and appalled. The aliens may be monstrous , but it's the humans that sell the horror in the movie.

The Alien creature
The Alien is described by Ash the robot as the perfect organism.”  and so Neil went with the idea of this creature's perfection. As a biological entity, he considered it precise, elegant and lethal. Its design, life cycle and behaviour were all so sexual, and given the nature of HR Giger's work, this wasn't surprising. But the creature in its different stages of a life cycle were not merely repulsive and terrifying, but also darkly beautiful and disturbing.

With the adult alien itself, a gangly, seven foot tall drooling slithering phallus of death, complete with erectile tongue for thrusting out and penetrating its victims bodies, it was amazing that they could make this thing up and turn it into what Neil thought was the greatest movie monster of all

Promethean disappointment
Neil respected Ridley's statement when he said "if you can shoot it for real, shoot it for real.", he saw that as the tangible things translate better to the screen. However when he came to watch Prometheus, he was crushed with disappointment to find out that when it came to the Space Jockey coming alive for the film, instead of some inscrutable alien being, in the context of the story it was a man in a suit. And perhaps this was painfully ironic, given the lengths they went to in the original movie to disguise the fact that the Alien creature was a man in a suit

Almost made The Last Voyage of the Demeter
He would the year that Prometheus came out start working on a film inspired by Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. The story would focus on one of the ships that transport the vampire from Transylvania. In the original text, the ship arrived in England but all the crew disappeared except the captain whose body is attached to the helm, and the scriptwriter took some inspiration from Alien

See:  Bragi Schut wrote The Last Voyage of the Demeter screenplay

Source Quotes

  1. Empire: What’s your favourite horror film?
    Neil: Tough call, but I'd have to say… ALIEN. (http://www.empireonline.com/)
  2. Neil Marshall: Looking back at Dog Soldiers, I thought it wasn't particularly scary. It came out as a black comedy more than anything else. I still had this fundamental need in me to make a horror film that genuinely terrified people. In the same way that I was genuinely terrified by the likes of Deliverance or Alien or The Shining, all those films from the '70s that I grew up with and have haunted me ever since. There was also a need to make a horror film that took itself seriously, that played it straight. So the story emerged from that desire really. (http://theeveningclass.blogspot.co.uk/ July 22, 2006)
  3. Scifi-universe : De Dog Soldiers à Doomsday, on a pu voir qu’il y a toujours une femme assez robuste. C’est volontaire ?
    Neil Marshall: Absolument ! En tant que réalisateur de films, je ne suis pas intéressé par des cris pathétiques… Des femmes qui ne savent que hurler… J’aime les femmes fortes, comme dans Alien, Terminator. J’aime les femmes dans ce genre de films.
    Scifi-universe: Le personnage de Ripley dans Alien, est-il celui que vous aimez le plus ?
    Neil Marshall: Oui ! Je pense que c’est la mère de toutes les femmes fortes dans les films. Je me souviens que c’était tout une histoire quand le film Alien est sorti… Le fait que le héros soit une femme. Vraiment toute une histoire… Mais pourquoi ? C’était certainement inhabituel… Mais c’était super. Et ça a bien marché dans l’histoire.
    Scifi-universe: Dans Doomsday, on a la sensation que vous êtes fans des films des années 80. Je pense à des films comme Mad Max, New York 1997 ou des films italiens de séries B comme ceux de Sergio Martino ?
    Neil Marshall: Oui, je suis fan de ces films de série B italiens traitant de l’apocalypse… Mais j’aime les trucs fous. Cette période particulière de « conception de films » est, selon moi, une période pleine de nouvelles idées, de fraicheur… Entre 1979 et 1985, tant de super films sont sortis. Alien, puis Mad Max, Conan, E.T., New York 1997, L’empire contre attaque, les aventuriers de l’arche perdue. Tant de films géniaux. Donc oui, c’était une immense inspiration pour moi. J’avais beaucoup de chance… J’avais 12 / 15 ans à l’époque… C’est l’âge idéal pour découvrir ce genre de films qui m’ont ensuite inspiré. (http://www.scifi-universe.com/actualites/7568/rencontre-avec-neil-marshall)
  4. HFC: It’s impressive to think the same guy revolutionised the genre three times with Last House on the Left, Elm Street and Scream.
    Axell Caroly: Yeah, and every generation of horror fans has been hit by something he’s created.
    Neil Marshall: I was more of a Carpenter fan with The Fog and The Thing. Also, Alien really defined it for me. And The Shining – that psychological thriller. (http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2015/09/interview-with-axelle-carolyn-and-neil-marshall-on-tales-of-halloween/)
  5. Neil Marshall: I remember just after he’d made Alien, Ridley Scott said “if you can shoot it for real, shoot it for real.’ He meant that tangible things translate better to the screen. (http://www.dontpaniconline.com/14 Sunday 2011) 
  6. Neil Marshall: "An American Werewolf in London is an interesting film because watching it when you're young it's absolutely terrifying but seeing it now you realise it's actually very funny. That period of time - when I was around 11, 12 and 13 years old - it was the age of VHS when friends started having VHS players. That's when I saw The Howling, I saw Alien, I saw The Shining, I saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre and all these films around that time. They stuck with me and inspired my love of horror. They informed me and made me who I am." (http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk, 22 OCT 2015)
  7. Neil Marshall: Few horror movies have had such a profound effect on me as Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, “Alien.” Few movies of any kind have had as much of an impact and influence on the movies I make. I was too young to catch it at the cinema when it was first released, but my uncle did, and he enthralled me with tales of strange planets, chestbursters and the unusual notion of a woman as the hero of a science-fiction horror movie. I was hooked, but I didn’t get to see it for myself until it was first broadcast on television in the UK in 1982 when I was 12, and it surpassed all expectations.

    Director Ridley Scott, along with artists H.R. Giger and Ron Cobb, working from a script by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, set out to create two utterly realistic and compelling future worlds, one human, one alien, and then set them on a collision course. There is nothing in “Alien” that ever seems fake. The sets, the spacecraft, the planet, the characters, the costumes, the performances; everything feels credible and authentic.
    The opening on the movie gives us a brief tour of the “tug” Nostromo, a workhorse of the spaceways, cumbersome and functional. Inside, its corridors are claustrophobic, dark, wet and grimy. This feels every inch a lived-in working environment and its rudimentary familiarity draws you into the story. Everything in this world is out to get you, from the vacuum of space to the cornbread and the corporation, let alone androids and alien beings. Space travel, in this movie, is no picnic.
    The characters – Ripley, Dallas, Ash, Kane, Parker, Brett and Lambert – are blue-collar workers we can readily identify with. They bitch about money, food, and each other. After spending months in hypersleep, who wouldn’t be a little grumpy? I love that they’re not a bunch of teens in jeopardy. They’re not even that sympathetic. Instead they’re scratchy, sweaty, and stretched thin by months in close quarters confinement. They’re flawed and therefore very human.
    The ALIEN on the other hand, is described by Ash as “the perfect organism.” Its very perfection is what makes it so otherworldly. As a biological entity, it’s precise, elegant and lethal. Everything about the ALIEN is sexual – its design, life cycle, its behavior – given Giger’s work that’s not too surprising. What it added to movie lore is a creature (actually multiple creatures) not merely repulsive and terrifying, but also darkly beautiful and disturbing.
    A scene from “Alien.” (Robert Penn / 20th Century Fox)
    So which came first, the ALIEN or the EGG?
    Actually neither. The derelict spacecraft comes first, if indeed it is a spacecraft. It looks almost organic and comes complete with several vagina-like portals through which our heroes gain access. Is it a female spacecraft? It has something resembling a pilot (more of which later) but it also has a womb, loaded with EGGS just waiting for some unwitting human to stray inside and “fertilize.”
    Kane describes these EGGS as “round leathery objects.” They seem to be alive and are crowned with yet more vagina-like orifices that open up and ejaculate another alien organism – say hello to the FACE-HUGGER.
    This little beast essentially kills you by raping your face and making you pregnant, and this is by no means limited to woman. The alien can’t be accused of being sexist. Any sex, any age, any thing is fair game, and if you’re unlucky enough to be orally impregnated, then the process of giving birth is no less unpleasant and ultimately fatal.
    Much has been said about the CHESTBURSTER’s big entrance, and yet despite lifting all the veils of movie magic it still retains the power to shock and disturb. It’s violent, painful and bloody, but none of it would be nearly so convincing if it wasn’t for John Hurt’s agonizing death throes and the rest of the cast looking on, dumbfounded and appalled. The aliens may be monstrous, but it’s the humans that sell the horror in the movie.
    And so we come to the main event, the ALIEN itself, a gangly, seven-foot-tall, drooling, slithering phallus of death, complete with erectile tongue for thrusting out and penetrating its victims’ bodies. I’d say you couldn’t make this up, but they did, and in turn created the greatest movie monster of all.
    To me, ALIEN (both the movie and the creature) is a perfect collaboration of brilliant minds and creative forces, all working together to push the envelope of ’70s cinema. I somehow doubt this movie would get made in today’s movie climate. It’s too adult, or perhaps too alien, for an audience weaned on superheroes and CGI. And yet, it spawned a successful franchise that’s still going strong today, via sequels, spin-offs, video games, and recently a prequel.
    And therein lies the rub….
    When I first saw “Alien,” the thing that burrowed deepest into my mind was not the ALIEN or the FACE-HUGGER or the EGG, but the other alien creature seen in the movie, the SPACE JOCKEY. This, to me, was far more incomprehensible than the ALIEN itself. Despite all I’ve said above, the ALIEN is basically a predator, and that’s something I can get my head around.
    The SPACE JOCKEY, on the other hand, is entirely unfathomable. Has it grown out of the chair? Has its “nose” apparently connected to its body in such a way it cannot move? It is, to my mind, something utterly and completely alien. Imagine my crushing disappointment to find out, all these years later, that it was not some inscrutable alien being after all, but was, within the context of the story, just a man in a suit! Painfully ironic, given the lengths they went to in the original movie to disguise the fact that the ALIEN (played by Bolaji Badejo) was in fact just that.
    Nevertheless, “Alien” is still a remarkable film-making achievement and an intense and terrifying movie which still holds up today with considerable ease.
    – Neil Marshall (http://herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/alien-neil-marshall-praises-ridley-scotts-sci-fi-classic-guest-essay/#/0 Oct. 30, 2014)

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