Alien: Alexandre O Philippe's Memory- Origins of Alien: Francis Bacon connections

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What intrigued him initially was the connection between the Chest Burster and Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion" tryptich from 1944 which. Francis Bacon had admitted later  in 1959 were sketches for the Eumenides (The Greek Furies) which El Mundo and Variety confusing appeared to connect it with Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,”  (was there something more in the documentary showing suggesting this), as Variety calls this painting ground zero for Bacon's "Ghoulish aesthetics"

He understood that someone might think that connection with that painting was just a little tidbit of trivia but he wasn't so sure.

What he knew was that Ridley Scott showed Giger the triptych  by Bacon as something he would like to base the chestburster on.

Giger made an attempt to create such a creature before he came to realise that his idea wasn't working.

Roger Dicken attempted to finish off Giger's creature but soon gave up
 
With Ridley's advice he started again but a different direction based on the appearance of the head of the adult alien beast, and of course the head of Necronom IV .

The final thing could be said to been loosely reminiscent of the figures in the Bacon painting and so perhaps there was something enough of it still in the final Chestbursting scene

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c.1944

  1. See also: Alien: Ridley inspired by Francis Bacon  
  2. El Mundo: Y así hasta llegar a la escena. El vicio casi fetichista del director por descomponer cada plano del mito adquiere de nuevo un nuevo significado. Como ya hizo en la ducha de Hitchcock, también ahora, el plano del nacimiento del alien se convierte en algo más que un golpe de genio. Lo que demuestra 'MEMORY' (ése era el nombre en el guión original de la película) es que las infinitas reelaboraciones de la secuencia y del propio bicho no fueron sólo la consecuencia de un trabajo errático, también hubo algo de predestinado, de obligado por el tiempo. Como 'Las damas de Avignon', de Picasso, o la propia Crucifixión de Bacon, en ese conjunto de planos sangrientos se condensa la propia imagen de su tiempo, de ese final de los 70 que tanto se parece a ahora mismo. Además de atisbarse la propia esencia intemporal de cada uno de nuestros miedos, de cada una de nuestras esperanzas.( Google Translation: And so on until you get to the scene. The director's almost fetishistic vice in breaking down each plane of the myth acquires a new meaning. As he did in Hitchcock's shower, also now, the plane of the alien's birth becomes something more than a stroke of genius. What 'MEMORY' shows (that was the name in the original script of the movie) is that the infinite reworkings of the sequence and the bug itself were not only the consequence of an erratic work, there was also something predestined, of forced by time. Like 'The Ladies of Avignon', by Picasso, or Bacon's own Crucifixion, in that set of bloody planes condenses the very image of his time, that end of the 70 that is so similar to now. In addition to glimpsing the timeless essence of each of our fears, each of our hopes. ) (https://www.elmundo.es/cultura/cine/2019/01/26/5c4bf36c21efa0f13e8b4598.html) 
  3. Variety: Yet the most telling aspect of the scene is how the creature’s face (no eyes, those small jutting teeth), its presence, was conceived. Philippe treats the visual aspects of “Alien” as a detective story, and the alien fetus turns out to have been directly inspired by a seminal painting of Francis Bacon: the right-hand panel of “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion,” his 1944 triptych that became, like a ghastly version of Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” ground zero for Bacon’s ghoulish aesthetic. (https://variety.com/2019/film/reviews/memory-the-origins-of-alien-review-1203115299/
  4. Francis Bacon: "'Sketches for the Eumenides (the Greek Furies) which I intended to use as the base of a large Crucifixion which I may do still'. (Francis Bacon in the '50s by Michael Peppiat) 
  5. Alexandre: It’s cool stuff, right? It’s one thing that you can just say, “Oh, yeah, well, you know, this is just Ridley Scott putting one thing and just showing an image to Giger” and think no more about that. But that’s precisely what I’m trying to say, is it’s all these things. The images resonate with certain artists for certain reasons, and those reasons are not necessarily conscious. They do come from the unconscious. The fact that Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger met and the way that they met through Dune, and that they had the same preoccupations, that they were both working on their own Necronomicons, that they were both obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and the fear of the unknown, all of those things put together … the parasitic wasps, the Crohn’s disease.
    When we look at it, as you say, “Oh, yeah, it’s just a bunch of coincidences,” and well, okay, sure. Fair enough. That’s an argument to be made. My argument is that when a movie like Alien becomes as successful as it did in 1979, at a time when people were actually ready for the cute, cuddly, friendly alien, as Clarke Wolfe says very early in the film, I wanna look at this and say, “Why?” Why did this movie, against the grain and against the odds, become so successful? Because it was presenting us with ideas and images that we … and I believe this very strongly … that we, as a collective, needed to process and work through. Forty years later, we’re still processing and working through and finally having a conversation about, 40 years later, what makes Alien extraordinarily contemporary as a film.
    (https://filmschoolrejects.com/alexandre-o-phillippe-sundance-2019/
  6. Alexandre O Philippe: One thing that got me excited about exploring this film was the idea that Ridley Scott had shown H.R. Geiger Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures of the Crucifixion. You can look at this and say, well, that’s just a little tidbit of trivia. I’m not so sure. If you look at all of the elements that make Alien, and all of the coincidences and all of the extraordinary changes that happened during the making of this film, you have to wonder, was there really something else there? Memory is a film about Alien, but it’s really a film about our collective unconscious.  (http://povmagazine.com/articles/view/memory-alexandre-philippe-interview-documentary)
  7. Alexandre O Philippe: For me, the answer lies in a rather obscure behind-the-scenes anecdote, which essentially became the reason I felt, and ultimately came to believe, that Memory: The Origins of Alien had to be made. At some point during pre-production, Scott showed Giger a possible source of inspiration for the chestburster: Francis Bacon’s revolutionary 1944 triptych, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion — a scene essentially hijacked by grotesque, feral chthonic deities of vengeance and retribution known as the Furies, or Erinyes, which appear again and again in Bacon’s oeuvre, and which he personally felt haunted and hunted by. To suggest that Scott intentionally summoned the Furies by showing that image to Giger would, of course, be taking the idea of living myths one step too far. But the poetic synchronicity of that anecdote is stunningly gorgeous and evocative. (https://www.talkhouse.com/bursting-from-within-why-alien-struck-a-nerve/)
     
Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon"  (1907)


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