Tracker Pixel for Entry

Philippe Celebrates 40 Years of Facehugging and Chest-bursting with “Memory: The Origins of Alien”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | June 5th, 2019

Forty years ago this week, the release of “Alien” added a seminal text to the American movie library. Mixed reviews would, with time, give way to admiration from scholars and critics articulating what early adopters recognized from the first: Ridley Scott’s elegant, observant masterwork combines pinpoint design, allusive writing, and patient direction into a hall-of-fame nightmare. Exemplifying the ne plus ultra of the “old dark house” formula, “Alien” occupies a place at the high table of modern marriages of science fiction and horror. Like “Star Wars,” the original article has also spawned an ongoing industry of sequels and spinoffs with ancillary merchandise from comics to video games to T-shirts to toys.

Filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe, veteran chronicler of deep-dive cinematic phenomena, has prepared his most satisfying work yet with “Memory: The Origins of Alien” (simply “Memory” in the onscreen title at Sundance). From the study of fandom and ownership in “The People vs. George Lucas” to the consideration of the zombie in “Doc of the Dead,” Philippe interrogates intersections of movie culture and psychology with the enthusiasm and ardor of a cinephile. His previous documentary, “78/52,” a near-comprehensive breakdown of the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” anticipates “Memory” in terms of how the deconstruction of a single movie moment/element -- in this case the ghastly demise of John Hurt’s Kane -- enriches and excites.

Philippe devotes more time to the chestburster than to any other component of “Alien,” but the sheer volume of additional information dazzles in both breadth and depth. Plenty of new talking head interviews from cast members and scholars provide context, but Philippe judiciously selects key archival material to organize the film’s thesis into a creative triangle. Presented as equally valuable artists in the journey of “Alien,” Philippe studies the input of writer Dan O’Bannon, designer H. R. Giger, and director Scott. Several well-known chapters from “Alien” history are recounted, including literary inspirations like Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” and Al Feldstein’s “Seeds of Jupiter!” from “Weird Science” #8.

More dots are connected between “Alien” and forerunners like Edward L. Cahn’s “It! The Terror from Beyond Space” and Mario Bava’s “Planet of the Vampires.” Philippe consistently presents all the collected clips, photographs, interviews, and other images with vivid clarity. “Memory” is his handsomest package to date. Even hardcore fans who have logged time with the more than 60 hours and 12,000 supplemental images contained in Fox’s “Alien Anthology” home video collection should be impressed with the filmmaker’s considered, thoughtful assemblage. At 95 minutes, “Memory” can’t cover every last aspect of “Alien,” but that is not Philippe’s intention.

As evidenced by the entrepreneurial, DIY production of “Alien: The Play” at New Jersey’s North Bergen High School earlier this spring, “Alien” is a gift that keeps on giving, and “Memory” unwraps so many colorfully wrapped boxes of various shapes and sizes. Next month’s publication of J. W. Rinzler’s “The Making of Alien” promises a comprehensive account of the film’s production history, but Philippe calls on the Furies in the construction of his mythological sense of both the movie’s core creative trio and the themes of gender destabilization exploring male rape and male birthing/delivery. The cycle of parasitic facehugger to full-grown biomechanical xenomorph perpetuates alongside our constantly refreshed interest in the doomed crew of the Nostromo and her last survivor.

Recently in:

WATFORD CITY – A reported 10-gallon spill of liquid gold at the Garden Creek I Gas Processing Plant in 2015 – just before the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy – could now be renamed as the largest land spill in human…

The 2019 North Dakota Senior Games begin this Thursday, August 15 and will continue through Saturday, August 17. There are 20 events scheduled for the Senior Games, which take place at various locations around Fargo and West Fargo.…

Thursday, August 29, 6-10 p.m.This Skateshop, 625 1st Ave. N, FargoShop vintage, enjoy a complimentary drink, play some vintage board games, VHS movies will be projected on the wall. It’s predicted that it will be an epic night for all!

Editorial

The power of song

by Sabrina Hornung

In this issue David Crosby said, “You know, music is like a lifting force. It makes things better.” Truer words have never been spoken. This week we decided to change things up a bit and offer our readers an exclusive music…

Basing Gun Control On Militia Muskets Is NutsThere was a picture of hundreds of colorful backpacks in the Fargo Forum that were distributed to children at the Fargodome a couple of days ago. It was part of the 21st Annual 2019…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comThe High Plains Reader spoke to Ojata Records and the Dogmajal owner and operator Jeremy Swisher about the ever-growing Grand Forks record store and hotdog shop.HPR: We might as well get the elephant…

If you’ve ever craved an outdoor music festival where you can walk to downtown shops, do yoga or go fishing in between sets, you’re in luck. The Greenway Takeover Festival returns to two stages in the heart of Grand Forks…

By Scott Ecker notharrisonford@gmail.comLast Tuesday I joined many local artists and audience members for Theatre B’s season preview at the Hjemkomst Center. As one of their board members, I see Theatre B regulars very often. …

Arts

‘Local American epics’

by Sabrina Hornung

The US Postal Service recently released a set of stamps celebrating the New Deal era post office murals that were federally commissioned during the Roosevelt administration, though the mural that graces the walls of the New…

The annual mainstage summer musical, produced by Trollwood Performing Arts School and sponsored by Bell Bank, opens Thursday, July 11. This year’s performance is Disney’s “Freaky Friday.” Trollwood Performing Arts…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

If you’re from the region you may have sipped, sampled or caught word of a libation often referred to as “red eye” or “wedding whiskey” at some point. In fact some of our friends of German Russia descent swear by it. If…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights…The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty, property, security, and…