Alien is basically my favourite film (well occasionally it’s Blade Runner but mostly it’s Alien). With Prometheus not far away it’s almost inevitable that publishers will be going back to the source material, the mother load, again. Alien Vault bills itself as ‘The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film’. Is it?
Well, for a start, it looks gorgeous – it’s almost ten inches square and a good inch thick. It’s in a slip case that’s made from really solid card. The pages themselves are thick and stitch bound. It’s lavishly illustrated throughout with photographs and conceptual artwork. There are also a number of removable items in wallets – H. R. Geiger paintings, some of Ridley Scott’s storyboards or ‘Ridleygrams’, designs for the space ship Nostromo, mini posters etc.
It’s written by Ian Natham who is probably best know as an editor on the film magazine Empire and is a pretty good writer. The actual text, once past the introduction where Natham describes his introduction to the film, consists of a number of themed essays: ‘Birth’ – starting with the chest-burster sequence and killing the urban legend that the cast didn’t know is was going to happen – they did, just not how shocking it was going to be – then going to explore the origins of the film; ‘Nostromo’ – on the design of the spaceship and the filming of some of the sequences that take place within it; ‘Perfect Organism’ – on the alien itself and the derelict; ‘Ripley’ – on Weaver and her character and finally ‘Legacy’ on the initial reaction to the film plus a brief overview of all that came after, the film sequals, comics and books etc. Natham has used a variety of contemporary material for reference – he has scoured the Fox picture archives for instance – plus a number of new interviews.
So do you need to buy it? If you’ve not got anything similar already and want to know more about the film I’d totally recommend it. For real hard core fans it’s probably not essential and to be honest most of the material is covered in the DVD extras of the Quadrilogy or the different commentary on the older single film dvd release (yeah, I’ve got both, I know that makes me pretty sad). Though there were several bits and bobs mentioned that I did not know – speculation by Scott on Ripley’s sexuality and that the ‘company’ Weylan-Yutani only became Weyland in Aliens and the original name came from a spin on the names of car manufacturers, Leyland and Toyota.
At one point Nathan makes the claim that Alien has been more influential than Star Wars. It’s a bold claim but I think he may just be right… it’s certainly a lot better film. In fact the best film. If you’re not convinced then just step into the Alien Vault.