Alien: Alexandre O Philippe's Memory - The Origins of Alien: Tackling a different beast


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Tackling the project of working on a documentary about Alien, there was a point in 2018 where Alexandre Philippe put on his dramatic writer hat and ask himself the question "What is the story of this film?"

His film Memory, was about Alien, a film about the resonance of myth and about our collective unconscious. but it was originally about the Chestburster and then still would be in the sense that the Chestburster is the "moment" of Alien. it was the moment that everything led to, and the "moment" had to work in order for Alien to resonate with audiences.
 
His argument of the film would have been that all of that hinged on the success of that one scene.

Had the execution of that scene failed, everything would have fallen apart.

There would have been no successful Alien without a successful, believable chest burster scene and therefore there would have been no Alien franchise without a successful chest burster scene.

(Well, that would obviously be the idea to have considering that it was this scene that sold the script to Brandywine, and people had been telling Dan when he was showing the script that the Chest Burster scene was his Psycho show scene )

He followed his intuition about this scene because it could not be approached or structured in the same way as he made about shower scene in Psycho as the "moment" for his earlier film 78/52, and this was a different beast altogether.

He would have ended up having a very entertaining behind-the-scenes piece but quickly he realized there’s a lot more there.

  1. Lisa: Memory deconstructs the DNA of the Chestburster scene as an idea, tracing where the idea came from. The structure of your film starts with the zeitgeist, big picture idea, mythical level, and then goes down so specifically to the instant the film was shot, and then opens back up again in a really satisfying way. Where in the creative process do you start finding that structure?
    Alexandre O Philippe: This particular project has been very unique. I’m big on structure. I come from a dramatic writing background, so to me, structure and the script is everything. If it doesn’t work on paper, it’s sure as hell not gonna work on the screen. But what’s very interesting about the making of Memory is that I feel that a lot of the process of it came out of the unconscious, and I had to trust that. There’s a real intuition about where I had to go with this film. Well, it is about the Chestburster, but it’s a film about the resonance of myth and about our collective unconscious. I mean, let’s face it, it’s a film about Alien, but it’s a lot more than a film about Alien, right? I had to follow the intuition that this is not a scene that could be approached or structured in the same way as the shower scene in Psycho. It’s a different beast altogether. What intrigued me a lot initially was the connection between the Chestburster and Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion.
    Brad: Blew my mind.(https://filmschoolrejects.com/alexandre-o-phillippe-sundance-2019/
  2. Alexandre O Philippe: The argument of the film is that all of that hinged on the success of that one scene. Had the execution of that scene failed, everything would have fallen apart. There is no successful Alien without a successful, believable chest burster scene and therefore there is no Alien franchise without a successful chest burster scene. (https://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/3543550/sundance-memory-origins-alien-didnt-need-ridley-scott-sigourney-weaver-exclusive/)
  3. Point Of View: The Psycho project focused on the single scene. It may have easy to have made a similar film about Alien focusing entirely on the chest-burster sequence.
    Alexandre O Philippe: That was definitely the original impulse. It doesn’t work because you can’t approach the chest burster scene the way you approach the Psycho shower scene. If you do, you can end up having a very entertaining behind-the-scenes piece but quickly you realize there’s a lot more there.(http://povmagazine.com/articles/view/memory-alexandre-philippe-interview-documentary)

     

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