Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c.1944
Ridley Scott had a situation to deal with, that if he wanted to be really scared, it had to connect with a very private thought.
He had to think about what physically made him feel really uneasy that upset him in a primal way, and Ridley was someone who was not easily made to feel upset.
In the Alien production, when they looked at various painter's work one one that caught their eye was the Crucifixion by Francis Bacon from 1944 that showed three fleshy necks with jaws on the end and as Giger described it, rat's flesh.
The primality of the painting, if there was such a word, was what interested Ridley.
Ridley told Giger that he wanted something like that, and Giger found the idea was logical.
- HR Giger: The second [form of the] alien was born through the crab. Bacon did a crucifixion in 1945, and there is a kind of beast in it that has a head that is only a mouth. Ridley said he wanted something like that. it was logical. This beast has to come out, to chew and claw its way out suddenly, unerringly.(Cinescape vol3, #9,
- Ridley Scott: I think finally, when you want to be really scared, you've got to have a very private thought. You've got to think about what it is that physically makes you very uneasy, that upsets you in a primal way. And I'm not very easily upset.. But we looked at various painters' works, and the one that caught us was by Francis Bacon, the three fleshy necks with the jaws on the end. The primality, if there is such a word, was what interested me. (Cinefantastique 9:1 p14)
- FX: What about the Chest-Burster?
HRGiger: Ridley Scott asked me to do something based on a crucifixion painting by Francis Bacon, in which the only thing of the figure you see is a mouth and some flesh behind. He wanted something like that which could go into the stomach or come out of it. (FX,07,1999)
- HR Giger: The chestburster, that was a very heavy scene, l think the strongest thing in the whole film. The idea came from a painting from Francis Bacon. Ridley Scott told me about this painting of '46 - it's just a crucifixion - and one of the members has just teeth and rats flesh... He liked to have the chestburster like that. (Alien documentary on Alien Quadrilogy)
- Dixieme Planete : Quel a été le point de départ de la création du Chestburster ?
HR Giger: Ridley Scott m'a demandé de faire quelque chose rappelant le «cri», une peinture de Francis Pike représentant une bouche ouverte. Je me suis exécuté, mais je trouvais ça moche ! Puis les techniciens anglais ont adapté ma tète d'Alien pour en faire ce que l'on voit à l'écran. (Dixieme Planete 31)
Translation :Dixieme Planete : What was the starting point for the creation of Chestburster ?
HR Giger : Ridley Scott asked me to do something reminiscent of the "cry" , a painting by Francis Bacon representing an open mouth. I carry it out, but I thought it was ugly!
Then the English technicians have adapted my Alien head to do what we see on the screen.
(N.B. Francis Pike would be a misinterpretation of the name Francis Bacon and the painting referred to as the "cry" doesn't make sense, there is no painting by that name by the artist but he might be talking about Francis Bacon's Crucifixion which is what is usually talked about in relation to the Chestburster, or is there something else being talked about here? The interviewers would have not had a clue what was being talked about by the looks of it!)