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‘Memory: The Origins of Alien’: SciFi Documentary on Ridley Scott’s Classic Franchise

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official trailer for “memory: the origins of alien”

Deep Dive into Cinematic Sci-Fi History

Ridley Scott’s 1979 “Alien” was a game changing film. A classic in both the science fiction and horror genres, the movie offered grotesque imagery and an unprecedentedly eerie illustration of space. Set on a spaceship named Mother, and filled with uncanny fetal imagery and a one-of-a-kind set design that evokes senses of both past and future, “Alien” taps into emotions and feelings that are subliminal, perhaps even primal for the viewer.

From an industry perspective, “Alien” was also the beginning of a billion dollar franchise, starting a series that would include three sequels, two prequels, a line of comic books, and two spin-offs where the title extraterrestrials face off against the equally iconic monsters from the “Predator” movies.

Photo / Exhibit A Pictures

The series continues to this day, as a sequel to the 2017 “Alien: Covenant” has been tossed around in development for the past couple of years. With Hollywood in a current state of conglomeration and nostalgia for 1970s and 80s intellectual property—after all we are getting a new Rambo and Terminator movie this year—and with “Alien” being such an intriguing film, it is only natural that people are interested in the film right now. At forty years old, “Alien” is even returning to select theaters this October, showing that people are still seeking out new ways to analyze and enjoy it.

While there is still no new word on the “Covenant” sequel, a documentary about the making and legacy of Ridley Scott’s original “Alien” will hit theaters this Friday. The documentary is titled “Memory: The Origins of Alien” and it takes audiences behind the scenes of how Ridley Scott and his team developed, designed, and produced the revolutionary movie.

With exclusive footage inside interviews, “Memory” looks at how Scott pieced together inspiration from several different sources to come up with the movie’s unique story and vision. This inspiration did not just come from previous movies. As the documentary shows, “Alien” was a thematic amalgamation of ancient mythology, mid-century European art, early transmedia storytelling, and neo-Freudian psychology, all tied up in a harrowingly original screenplay from Dan O’Bannon. 

Photo / Exhibit A Pictures

Historical Perspectives with Scholarly Deconstructions

To delve into all of this fully, “Memory” will be looking at “Alien” primarily from an academic lens, getting input from fans, critics, and scholars to analyze the film, the filmmaker, and all of their layered intricacies.  

Alexandre O. Philippe is directing “Memory.” This is the same filmmaker who created “The People vs George Lucas” in 2010 as a scathing critique of the George Lucas and his Star Wars prequel trilogy. Clearly, Philippe does not lack cinephilic opinions, and he is not afraid to play hardball with his subjects. 

Ridley Scott is not attached to “Memory” in any direct way. Thus, there are no rules dictating what Philippe might say about the director. Comfortingly, though, “Memory” does not look like it will be a critique of Scott or his legendary movie, but rather an intelligent and insightful deconstruction of one of the most important moments in science fiction cinema. “Alien” is truly a fantastic film that still conjures feelings of wonder and mystery to this day. “Memory” is thus a long overdue homage to the timeless picture and a necessary breakdown of everything it means.


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