It’s Alien but still fa­mil­iar

Af­ter all th­ese years this movie fran­chise is do­ing well, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

ALTHOUGH the movie has be­come a mod­ern clas­sic and been cel­e­brated for its unique blend of hor­ror and sci­ence-fic­tion, Scott couldn’t stop think­ing about the one, gi­gan­tic ques­tion that Alien and its five se­quels failed to ad­dress: Who was the Space Jockey?

In the orig­i­nal Alien, a team of hu­mans aboard the space ves­sel Nostromo in­ves­ti­gate a dis­tress call and dis­cover an aban­doned alien craft. Sit­ting inside is what ap­pears to be the skele­tal re­mains of a 9-foot-tall pi­lot of some sort. This is the Space Jockey, a name sup­pos­edly given by a film crew mem­ber who scrib­bled it on a sto­ry­board, which sug­gests the Jockey was not even im­por­tant enough to be given a name in the script. (Chad?)

What’s most rel­e­vant about the Space Jockey, for Alien at least, is that some­thing ap­pears to have burst out of its rib cage, giv­ing the first hint of the hor­rors to come.

Then the Space Jockey is com­pletely for­got­ten, as Sigour­ney Weaver, Tom Sker­ritt and the rest of the crew spend the re­main­der of the movie bat­tling the H.R. Giger-de­signed crea­ture with se­ri­ously ter­ri­ble den­tal hy­giene (known to fans as a xenomorph).

Ri­d­ley Scott, how­ever, never let the mys­tery of the Space Jockey go.

‘‘Who was he? Where was he from? What was his mis­sion? What kind of tech­nol­ogy would his kind pos­sess?’’ Scott asks. ‘‘I thought those ques­tions could pro­vide a spring­board for even larger ideas.’’

Those ‘‘larger ideas’’ ended up as Prometheus, Scott’s re­turn to the genre – sci­ence fic­tion – that launched his ca­reer and a chance to once again play in the Alien sand­box.

Never mind the Space Jockey. The big ques­tion on ev­ery­one else’s mind is: How does Prometheus con­nect to Alien?

When Scott be­gan devel­op­ing the project a decade ago, it was orig­i­nally planned as a di­rect pre­quel to the 1979 movie. Jon Spai­hts wrote a first draft that con­tained all of the fa­mil­iar el­e­ments from the fran­chise, in­clud­ing face-hug­gers, chest-burst­ing, acid blood and xenomorphs. Da­mon Lin­de­lof, the mas­ter­mind of TV’s Lost, was later hired to re­vise Spai­hts’ script.

‘‘They were look­ing for a ver­sion that stripped away all of its pre­quel­ness and flesh­ing out the big idea in the script more so the movie could sink or swim on its own with­out be­ing mar­ried to those oth­ers,’’ Lin­de­lof says. ‘‘But at the same time, it’s Ri­d­ley Scott do­ing sci­ence-fic­tion, so pay homage to those movies, don’t strip it all away, but re­bal­ance it and change the fo­cus of it.’’

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