As a child, he was watching a lot of horror films, and one of his best friends at the time was Edoardo Ponti, the son of Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti, who was a big film buff.
He would go to his place in Geneva and watch movies, because he would get hold of these horror movies on VHS that were not available in Switzerland, and by this method, Philippe got his big introduction to film aged 12.
Edoardo Ponti had an original poster from Alien in his room and Philippe remembered the tagline
"in space, no one can hear you scream.”
He was entranced by it, and there was this duel emotion of “I can’t wait to see this,” but also he dreaded seeing it.
The actual moment when he saw it though would fade from his memory, perhaps he waited a few years, but he remembered going frame by frame on his VHS player trying to figure out " Oh, my gosh, how did they do that?” and he wasn't very old at the time.
He was just trying to understand how that was done and he didn't know, and perhaps this moment led to his documentary.
- Interviewer: Do you remember your first reaction to seeing Alien and the things you responded to and obsessed over?
Alexandre: No, and it’s funny because people asked me the same question about Psycho, and I don’t have the actual first memory of watching the film, but I can tell you that I have very strong memories about the poster. As a kid, I was watching a lot of horror films, and one of my best friends at the time was Edoardo Ponti, the son of Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti, and he was a big film buff, and I would go to his place in Geneva to watch movies, because he would bring these horror movies on VHS that we did not have a Switzerland. That’s how I got my film schooling at age 12. But he had an original one-sheet from Alien in his room, and I remember the tagline “In space, no one can hear you scream.” I was entranced by it, and there was this duel emotion of “I can’t wait to see this,” but I’m also dreading seeing it, so I think I waiting a few years, and I’m pretty sure I watched it on VHS for the first time, and it blew me away.
Interviewer: It’s funny you say that because what I remember seeing first was the trailer with just the letters of the title coming up a little bit at a time, and there was a tension to the trailer that I’d never seen before.
Alexandre: Yes, yes. And if you look at it now, the trailer seems cheesy because it has that egg, right? It looks very simple, yet it’s so effective. (https://www.slashfilm.com/alexandre-o-philippe-interview-memory/)
- Alexandre O Philippe: It’s a bit fuzzy actually. My first memory of Alien was being entranced by the poster. A really good friend of mine had the poster in his room and every time we’d go and visit, we’d look at it. I remember completely dreading the idea of watching the film so it took me a few years until I finally got to watch it. (http://povmagazine.com/articles/view/memory-alexandre-philippe-interview-documentary)
- HtN: Which you feature in Memory: The Origins of Alien…
AOP: Yes. It left such an impression on me. I remember going frame by frame on my VHS player trying to figure out, “Oh, my gosh, how did they do that?” And I wasn’t very old. I was just trying to understand how that was done and I don’t know, maybe that was the moment that led to this. I’m not entirely sure but I think definitely my passion for horror film, for horror cinema, just goes way back. Yeah. (http://www.hammertonail.com/interviews/alexandre-philippe/)
- FilmStage: To embark on an Alien doc, I imagine you’d really have to be a fan. Otherwise, this might have seemed overwhelming. What is your first memory of Alien?
A O Philippe: The first memory I have is actually the poster. I had a friend in Geneva–where I grew up–who had the original one-sheet poster and that tagline is just mesmerizing. It really taps into the fear of the unknown and creates an immediate effect of dread. You want to watch the film but you’re terrified to see it. So I waited a few years until I saw it for the first time. It was on VHS, but it completely blew me away, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve watched it over and over again, and it’s one of the films I go back to constantly. (https://thefilmstage.com/features/exploring-the-making-of-a-sci-fi-masterpiece-with-memory-the-origins-of-alien-director-alexandre-o-philippe/)