Alien: Industrial conglomerates
and their ships

Leading from
Alien: Making the Movie   



a) Nostromo, one of an armada of ships
 
a.i) Ships waiting in luna orbit 
 
In the universe of the movie Alien, the Nostromo was one of an armada of ships that would wait in moon orbit for their crews to be shuttled up to them.

  1. New Musical Express: Scott proceeds to advance a wealth of background detail about Alien, much of which doesn't feature as such in the film at all, but was projected to give everyone involved a complete impression of what they were supposed to be filming. The Nostromo for example was envisaged as one of an armada of ships that would wait in moon orbit for their crews to be shuttled up to them. .(NME, 15th September, 1979)

 
a.ii) Owned by multi-national industrial conglomerates
 
The armada would in turn be one of several owned by multi-national industrial conglomerates who had been mining and exploiting space for decades.
  1. Multi-national corporations like Weylan-Yutani have been mining and exploiting space for decades. (Alien Portfolio)
  2. New Musical Express:  The armada would in turn be one of several owned by multi-national conglomerates ( "a sort of super-Sony, 50 times bigger") .(NME, 15th September, 1979)


a.iii) The world as property for two or three large conglomerates
 
Ridley imagined that fifty years into the future, the world had been converted into the property of two or three large conglomerates, whose sources of energy are provided by the exploitations of deposits in space.

  1. Ridley Scott: Let's assume that in fifty years time, the world has been converted into the property of two or three large conglomerates, whose sources of energy are provided by the exploitations of deposits in space.  (Film Illustrated. v9. n99, Nov 1979, "Duelling with Death, The Alien World of Ridley Scott")
 
 
a.iv) What these supercargo spaceship do
 
The Super-cargo spaceships that link Earth and the planets would transport enormous loads of minerals - gas, oil and the like.
 
  1. Ridley Scott: The Super-cargo spaceships that link Earth and the planets would transport enormous loads of minerals - gas, oil and the like. (Film Illustrated. v9. n99, Nov 1979, "Duelling with Death, The Alien World of Ridley Scott")


 
Nostromo's refinery with spires that didn't appear in the film



a.v)  The role of the refinery
 
A picker craft would put all the stuff aboard
 
Then refinery itself, as a conglomerative mountain of technology then does all the work, 
 
Mostly likely carrying ore, would perhaps slowly crush the contents or simply turn it into liquid or gas for easier transference back to Earth.
  1. Ridley Scott: The refinery itself is a conglomerative mountain of technology.

    FF: What was the refinery carrying?

    Ridley Scott: Ore, I suppose. They'd do all the work inside once the "picker" (the smaller craft) would put the stuff aboard. The ore would be turned into liquid or gas for easier transference back to Earth (Fantastic Film US#12/ GB #2, p20)
 
 
a.vii) The Nostromo's used interior
 
They certainly didn't design the Nostromo to look like a hotel but at the culmination of many long voyages, each covering many years, the ships look used, beat-up, covered in graffiti and uncomfortable.

  1. Ridley Scott: At the culmination of many long voyages, each covering many years, these ships — no doubt part of armadas owned by private corporations — look used, beat-up, covered with graffiti, and uncomfortable. We certainly didn't design the Nostromo to look like a hotel. (An interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary,Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasy, p294)
 
 
a.vii) What Ridley noticed aboard Boeing 747s to the USA
 
In a tongue in cheek fantasy way,  Ridley was imagining a not too distant future in which flying in space looked like taking an aircraft flight,

He had been flying to and from the United States a lot of that time and he noticed how Boeing 747s were gradually getting beaten up.

When Ridley was in and out of London, he would notice whether it was looking tidy or untidy driving himself crazy and he then applied this rule to Alien.
 
  1. Harry Dean Stanton: He wanted to make it look like flying in space was like taking an airplane flight. Make it old hat, more or less  make it natural and common place as possible. (Warren presents, Alien Collector's Edition, p45)
  2. Ridley Scott: I’m a neatnik, a pathological neatnik,  and so I notice these things, When I’m in and out of London I notice whether its looking tidy or untidy and it drives me crazy. So I just applied that rule [to Alien]. I’d been flying to and from the United States a lot at that time, and I’d noticed how 747s were gradually getting beaten up. I was in a lavatory on a 747, and I noticed that even there someone had done some graffiti. And then alongside that there were instructions on the use of the lavatory  in four different languages. So I applied all this thinking, except having jumped ahead, say, a hundred years. And I still believe I probably didn’t go far enough.  (Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer, p88)
 

a.viii) Graffiti and instructions in the lavatory 
 
When Ridley was in the lavatory aboard the plane, he would notice that even there someone had done some graffiti.

Along side that were instructions on the use of the lavatory in four different languages.

  1. Ridley Scott:  I was in a lavatory on a 747, and I noticed that even there someone had done some graffiti. And then alongside that there were instructions on the use of the lavatory  in four different languages. (Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer, p88)
 
 
a.ix) Projecting this all a hundred years into he future

He applied all of this thinking and projected it ahead near enough a hundred years, although he felt he probably could have gone further with it in the film.
 
  1. Ridley Scott: So I applied all this thinking, except having jumped ahead, say, a hundred years. And I still believe I probably didn’t go far enough.  (Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer, p88)
 

a.x) Combination ships

Ships could be so vast that different companies would have actually built different parts of them giving them the look of something rather hybrid. (See "Combination ship" in Creating the Nostromo: The Crunch)
 
 
 

a.xi) Space vehicles tramping around the universe
 
There are many vehicles tramping around the universe on mining expeditions, erecting military installations and so on, but the reality of this would seem unlikely for perhaps a thousand years.
 
  1. Danny Peary: ln Alien, everything looks old, uninviting, bleak, disheveled. What was the look you wanted for your major set. the starship Nostromo?   
     
    Ridley Scott: The look really was meant to reflect the crew members who, l felt, should be like truck drivers in space. Their jobs, which took them on several-year journeys through space, were to them a normal state of affairs. Therein lies the fantasy. The reality would not be like this for maybe a thousand years - but in our tongue-in-cheek fantasy we project a not-too-distant future in which there are many vehicles tramping around the universe on mining expeditions, erecting military installations, or whatever. (An interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary,Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasy, p294
 

The Queen Mary
 
 
 
a.xix) Scale of the Nostromo and refinery
 
The Nostromo itself was the size of something like the Queen Mary ocean liner, it would have been like a three deck ship, with corridors two to three hundred feet long, and would be comparable to the Japanese super tankers three quarters of a mile long.

The refinery would have been perhaps a square mile.
  1. Michael Seymour: We tried to create an inter-galactic supertanker with a sense of geography. A sort of three-deck ship. (Warren Presents Alien Collector's Edition, p16)
  2. Fantastic Films: How did you view the Nostromo? 
    Ridley Scott: The thing's like the bloody Queen Mary. Do you get a sense of the scale of the interior? That it's big? We couldn't build the two to three hundred foot-long corridors which it would have but it's supposed to be like one of these Japanese super-tankers. Three quarters of a mile long. The refinery behind it would be God-knows how big. I mean, well.... I dunno, a square mile. (Fantastic Film US#12/ GB #2, p20) 
 
 
a.xx) The Nostromo as a flying vehicle and a jump jet
The Nostromo had to be able to fly both in space and under atmospheric conditions.

Ridley saw it as a gigantic maneuverable jump jet and therefore it was able to get wherever it wanted on various planets, landing in quite narrow, rocky terrain.

Thus was only near enough streamlined object in the whole of the lander and refinery construct.
  1. Fantastic Films: But the Nostromo had to be able to fly both in space and under atmospheric conditions?

    Ridley Scott: I saw it as a gigantic maneuverable jump jet. Therefore it was able to get wherever it wanted on various planets, landing in a quite narrow, rocky terrain. So that's the only streamlined object in the whole thing.  The refinery itself is a conglomerative mountain of technology.

    Fantastic Films: What was the refinery carrying?

    Ridley Scott:
    Ore, I suppose. They'd do all the work inside once the "picker" (the smaller craft) would put the stuff aboard. The ore would be turned into liquid or gas for easier transference back to Earth (Fantastic Films US#12/ GB #2, p20)

 

Japanese supertanker built in 1979

 
 
 
b) Computerised ship and its crew
 
b.i) Value of human life has diminished

By this time, possibly the value of human life has diminished considerably, because of the Big Brother idea of a lifeless megastructure which becomes more prevalent.
 
Its employees are now considered expendable.
  1. Daniel Peary: At this point in time, has the value of humans diminished even further than today as far as the military-industrial complex is concerned? I am struck by the opening scene in which the ship's computer and machinery "come to life" before the humans are revived from their suspended-animation state.

    Ridley Scott: It's possibly that the value of humans could have diminished. I'm now thinking on the level of the Big Brother idea of a lifeless megastructure and its attitude toward human employees who are considered expendable.

    (An interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary,Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasy, p295)
 
 
b.ii) Importance of the ship and its contents over the crew

The machinery, the information data and cargo are of more importance to the corporations that the individuals on the ships.
  1. Ridley Scott: . In this instance, the machinery, information data, and cargo are of more importance to corporations than the individuals on their ships. (An interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary,Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasy, p295)
 
 
b.iii) Workies
 
Rather than there be a crew of scientists, military men or astronauts, Ridley used the word "workies" to describe the crew who were bsically working class characters instead. 
 
There was the idea was that nobody in their right minds would do what they're doing unless they're going to get set up for life by doing it.

  1. Ridley Scott: The Crew are workies.  Nobody in their right minds would do what they're doing unless they're going to get set up for life by doing it. (NME, 15th September, 1979)
  2. Daniel Peary:Alien is the first space film, I believe, that features working-class characters rather than a crew of scientists, military men, or astronauts

    Ridley Scott: That's absolutely correct. At this point in time, I believe everyone in a crew can be a working-type. (An interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary,Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasy, p295) 

 
b.iv) Like an eight year contract 
 
It would be like signing onto an oil tanker for eight years, and so these jobs which took them on several year journeys through space were to them normal state of affairs.
  1. Ridley Scott: It's like signing onto an oil tanker for eight years. (NME, 15th September, 1979)
 
 
b.v) Ship run by computers for most of the journey

For the sake of efficiency, for the duration of the actual journey, the computer run the ships while the humans remain in a state of hypersleep.
  1. Ridley Scott: I certainly think this situation has parallels today. But the fact that computers can run the ship before the humans are revived is meant to be logical and nothing to do with Big Brother and an unfeeling company. Ships will be run by computers specifically for efficiency reasons (An interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary,Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasy, p295)

 
b.vi) Crew is secondary

In this case, the Nostromo is driven by a computer called Mother, 
 
But as far as running the ship goes, the crew is secondary.

Once on the ship, their function is minimal.

  1. Ridley Scott: The Nostromo is driven by Mother, a computer, and, as far as running the ships goes, the crew is secondary. Once on the ship, their function is minimal.  (An interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary,Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasy, p295)
 
 
b.vii) This can look after itself
 
The idea is that they need know only how to work the ship's basic equipment. 
 
With that the equipment can start itself, repair itself, think for itself and act as its own monitoring system.
  1. Ridley Scott:  They need know only how to work the ship's basic equipment. That equipment can start itself, repair itself, think for itself, and act as its own monitoring system. (An interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary,Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasy, p295)
 

b.viii) Need for humans as seen in the film
 
However in the movie "Alien", two men, Brett and Parker are physically involved in the repair of the ship in order to make it ready to take off again from the unknown planetoid.
 
 


Nostromo
The Hawker Harrier Jumpjet
 
 
 
c) Character's biographies

Ridley's actors for Alien would come to him asking "What's my character? What's my motivation?"
He thought that he bes hing to do was to write a litle biography on each of them.
 
He started with the birth going through to their parents, university, training college, how they go into NASA, and NASA projected into industry, industry to Weylan-Yutani, finally having done Mars and Moon etc
  1. Ridley Scott: Constant question from different actors who'll be nameless within the... within the cast who'd say "What's my character, what's my motivation?" And so I thought the the best thing to do was to sit down,  I wrote a little bio on each of them, starting at birth through to Mum and Dad , university, training college, how they got into NASA, NASA projected into industry, industry to Weylan-Yutani, finally having done Mars and Moon, yada yada yada  (Ridley Scott Q&A, Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, California)
 
 
d) Weylan-Yutani and the world
 
d. i) Japanese owne and based in Honolulu
 
Weylan-Yutani, an industrial conglomerate, is based in Honolulu, 
 
It is Japanese owned which is incidentally why the crew's spacesuits have something of the Samurai about them.

It would be comparable to a super-Sony, 50 times bigger than it was in the 1970s.

  1. New Musical Express:  ( "a sort of super-Sony, 50 times bigger") - which is why incidentally the crew's spacesuits have something of the Samurai about them, the film's imaginary Company being based in Honolulu is Japanese-owned.(NME, 15th September, 1979)

 
d.ii) When the mega-corporations idea seemed exotic 
 
Back in the late 1970s when Alien was made, the idea of mega corporations seemed like exotic speculation  ( the idea was explored also in the form of Tyrell in Blade Runner released three years later) and by the 21st Century it became a reality.
 
  1. Ridley Scott: Talking to the Company. Talking to Weylan-Yutani which I figured at that time, and in fact, it reflected it in Bladerunner that erm, the world eventually obviously is going to be run by companies and organisations, um, which seemed exotic, you know, eighteen years ago, but now, it's a reality, right. That's the way we're headed, um and so this was speculation at the time, but funnily, by the time I got to do Blade Runner, the idea of the Tyrel corporation was a mega mega company... (Raw Alien 20th Anniversary DVD Ridley Scott Commentary) 

 
d.iii) Someone a hundred yeatrs into he future or more
 
Perhaps Alien took place a hundred years into the future from when it was made which would place it generally in the 2070s or perhaps it took place somewhere early in the 22nd century.

  1. Rob Cobb's Tricentennial and UK-7 patched are the only indication yet given as to how far in the future Alien takes place. From information gathered through Cobb and his designs we can ascertain many world developments that have occurred by the time of this story (Alien Portfolio)
  2. As near as can be determined , ALIEN takes place sometime during the first two decades of the 22nd century.(Alien Portfolio)

 
d.iv) Weylan-Yutani name was earlier Leyland Toyota
 
Ron Cobb could well have gone ahead and called the company Leyland-Toyota. 
 
It would have been to show that England was getting back on its feet and had united with the Japanese.
 
These Japanese would have taken over the building of spaceships the same way they had by the late 1970s with cars and supertankers. 
 
Of course using those names would have invited trouble for the production, so changes were made. 
 

  1. Ron Cobb: One of the things I enjoyed most about ALIEN was its subtle satirical content. Science Fiction films offer golden opportunities to throw in little scraps of information that suggest enormous changes in the world. There's a certain amount of potency in those kinds of remarks. Weylan-Yutani for instance is almost a joke but not quite. I wanted to imply that poor old England is back on its feet and has united with the Japanese, who have taken over the building of spaceships the same way they have now with cars and supertankers.  (Alien Portfolio)
 
 
 
e) Red Star Lines
 
e.i) Red star line
 
Ron Cobb came up with the idea as a patch for the Red Star Lines company (which he also wrote as Red Star Line which originally was the name of transatlantic ocean liner transporting from Belgium to America and Canada from 1873 and 1934)
 
This is purchased in 2115 by the White Dwarf Complex and would be a company used to transport and rotate crews. 
 
 
e.ii) White Dwarf Complex 
 
So would the White Dwarf Complex be another industrial conglomerate since we find it buying up a smaller company?



f) Farside: Lunar Mining - Lifting
Farside Lunar Mining would feature on a patch worn by one of the crew, and this badge showed a map connection such places as Icarus, Leibnitz, Mach and Kuliki.

While hese these places can be the dark side of the moon, Leibnitz so happens to be a city in Austria, while Kuliki can be found as the name of settlements in Poland and Russia?



g Three World Empire and The United Americas
 
g.i) Unlikely merging of political merging of cultures
 
Economics and diminishing resources have led to the political merging of cultures that seemed unlikely in the 1970s.
  1. Economics and diminishing resources have led to the political merging of cultures unlikely in the present day. (Alien Portfolio)
 
 
g.ii) Formation of the Three World Empire
 
During the last quarter of the 21st century, UK joined forces with Japan and dozens of developing countries to form the Three World Empire.
  1. During the last quarter of the 21st century the United Kingdom joined forces with Japan and dozens of developing countries to form the Three World Empire.(Alien Portfolio)

 
g.iii) The merging of North and South America
 
A powerful economic bloc created by the Three World Empire help necessitate the merging of North and South America into one economic giant The United Americas, by 2104. 
 

  1. The powerful economic bloc created by the Third World Empire helped necessitate the merging of North and South America into one economic giant in 2014.(Alien Portfolio)



h) Earth Vicinity 
 
 
h.i) The crew of the Nostromo were aiming to be back in an area of space known  as Earth Vicinity
 when they wake up in "Alien
  1. Ron Cobb: They think they're back, that they've arrived in Earths vicinity. (Fantastic Films, July 1979, p30)
 
 
h.ii) An inner city of planets
 
The definition of Earth perhaps has extended out as an inner city of planets. 
 
  1. Ron Cobb: The Earth might have become the inner-city of planets, with almost everyone from the planet either Black, Chicano or Oriental. All the caucasians would have moved out to the suburbs of Mars. Whether its sociolog-ically sound or not, people can relate to that and it's funny.  (The Authorized Portfolio of Crew Insignias)
 
 
h.ii) White superiority
 
In a tongue in cheek way, it would have been imagined that almost everyone from the planet is either Black, Chicano or Oriental, while the caucasians have moved to the suburbs of Mars. 
  1. Ron Cobb: The Earth might have become the inner-city of planets, with almost everyone from the planet either Black, Chicano or Oriental. All the caucasians would have moved out to the suburbs of Mars. Whether its sociolog-ically sound or not, people can relate to that and it's funny.  (The Authorized Portfolio of Crew Insignias)
 
 
h.iii) Where 'Earth Vicinity had reached tto by 2087
 
By 2087, "Earth Vicinity" space was an area extending 16.3 light years around planet Earth, encompassing 39 star systems, with 14 colonies on planets within the other start systems within that area.

 
h.iv) The Three World Empire pioneer the establishment of settlements on Mars and Saturn's moon Titan. 
  1. Interplanetary commerce and the mining of deep space is flourishing. (Alien Portfolio)
 
 
h.v) Interplanetary commerce and the mining of deep space flourished, and from 2088 to 2102,  
  1. Interplanetary commerce and the mining of deep space is flourishing. From 2088 to 2102   (Alien Portfolio)
 


i) "The Outer" Rim
 
As of 2087, "The Outer" rim extended 54 light years from the Earth.
 
 

2 comments:

  1. Just realised that I had written "Three World Empire" as "Third World Empire" and now its been corrected

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've re-edited the page and corrected the Third World Empire mistake again, when I though I had corrected it before. I obviously can't wait to correct it again in a few years time

    ReplyDelete