Director Alexandre O. Philippe established himself as one of our foremost pop-culture documentarians with 2010’s The People vs. George Lucas, 2014’s Doc of the Dead, and 2017’s 78/52 (the latter of which breaks down the famous shower scene from Psycho). Now Philippe has turned his attention to Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi/horror classic Alien with Memory: The Origins of Alien, which will premiere at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.
“This is actually a very different film [from 78/52],” Philippe tells EW. “People who expect the 78/52 treatment applied to the chestburster [scene] are in for a real surprise. Memory is the origin story of Alien, but it really is a full-on mythological take on the film. It’s an exploration of the power of cinema, the power of myths. It’s a very unique look at the original Alien film.
“Obviously, Ridley Scott is a huge part of that,” the Philippe continues, “but it weighs very heavily on [screenwriter] Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger [the artist who designed the look of the titular creature]. We were very fortunate to be able to work with Diane O’Bannon, who is Dan’s widow, and who is one of our executive producers. She opened Dan’s archive for the very first time, so there’s a lot of stuff that fans of the film have probably heard about but have never seen. That includes the original version of the script, that is actually called Memory, that dates back to 1971. Then we worked very closely with the estate of H.R. Giger, and they gave us full access to their archives as well. What they’ve provided is remarkable.”
Interviewees featured in Memory include Alien cast members Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright and set decorator Roger Christian — plus, Philippe says, “a few surprises along the way.” Meanwhile, the film’s poster boasts an early piece of Alien art from the late Giger.
“The egg that you see in the poster is the very first painting that H.R. Giger did for Dan O’Bannon,” says Philippe. “It felt like a really nice and appropriate nod to Dan, and also to Giger and their early collaboration on the film.”
Get an exclusive look at the poster for Memory: The Origins of Alien below.
H.R. Giger, courtesy of the Giger Estate