Memory: The Origins of Alien – documentary, USA, 2019 – A dozen reviews

‘Before Alien there was Starbeast. Before Starbeast, there was… Memory.’

Memory: The Origins of Alien is a 2019 American documentary feature film written and directed by Alexandre O. Philippe (78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene)

The untold origin story behind Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett and Ridley Scott‘s Alien – rooted in Greek and Egyptian mythologies, underground comics, the art of Francis Bacon, and the dark visions of Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger. A contemplation on the symbiotic collaborative process of movie-making, the power of myth, and our collective unconscious…

Reviews:

“An absolutely crucial entry in the about-Alien canon…lovingly demonstrates the alchemical creative process among O’Bannon, Scott and artist H.R. Giger.” Bloody Disgusting

“The movie comes to rely on firsthand accounts infrequently as its focus sharpens. “Memory” decides, correctly in light of the ideas it ultimately explores, that the most critical context should come from perspectives that assumed ownership of Alien after it passed from its founders to its audience.” Culture Crypt

“The way he pulls back the layers in Memory was wholly engaging to watch as a longtime Alien fan, especially because it gave me new food for thought and also recontextualized how I view this watershed moment in sci-fi history, whereas it may have taken nearly my entire life to fully see what this movie was really doing…” Daily Dead

“Even if may have been inspired by the likes of films such as It! The Terror from Beyond Space, The Thing From Another World, Planet of the Vampires, and Queen of Blood, as well as the messages of imperialism in Joseph Conrad’s and H.P. Lovecraft’s vivid voyage in At the Mountains of MadnessMemory cogently shows the perfect synthesis of collaborators needed to take science-fiction in a bold, dark new step.”  The Film Stage

“Where the documentary falters is that after setting up the mystery of sudden writer’s block, we see it quickly scuttled and solved only to be provided with a thesis on why O’Bannon, Giger, and Scott are tremendously talented, deeply connected individuals. We know this. We want to see the plans come to fruition.” Film Threat

” …makes for a mostly riveting documentary, gorgeously shot (and presented in the same aspect ratio as Alien’s original wide-screen anamorphic format), and guilty only of presenting too much information. At one point, after we circled back to the opening staged bodies of writing Furies in the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece, I think my head exploded, unable to process yet another layer of meaning.” Hammer to Nail

“Frankly, even fans who have seen the original Alien dozens of times might be surprised by the depth of Memory. It is definitely Philippe’s best documentary to date. In fact, Memory echoes our sentiments regarding the significance of genre films as a measure of society’s collective neuroses. Enthusiastically recommended…” J.B. Spins

” …Memory is a mind-blowing piece of work, taking you through everything that influenced O’Bannon/Giger/Scott. You see how people as diverse as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Stanley Kubrick, and artist Francis Bacon all played important roles, as did ancient myths, specifically that of “The Furies”, with the xenomorph itself acting as a modern version of this.” JoBlo

” …a fantastic watch about the origin and creation of a classic film, full of beautiful images and art, thoughtful discussion and tons of behind-the-scenes info. Whether you’re a die-hard Alien fan or just a movie buff in general, you’ll find a lot to like about this documentary. I highly recommend checking this one out.” Killer Horror Critic

“It’s a movie made by someone who loves his subject matter but it’s also way more than mere fandom. It doesn’t just remind you that Alien is a masterpiece but details how it got that way and why it continues to haunt us.” RogerEbert.com

“Philippe keeps the anecdotal material tied to a deeper examination of the personalities of Alien’s prime movers, and how and why the movie resonated so strongly at the time, and continues to do so. Memory is not a simple making-of, but a visual work of cinema scholarship that has a lot to offer for both casual viewers and rabid devotees of Alien.” Rue Morgue

“The philosophising gets a bit preachy and sounds overly self-important at times, but Alexandre O. Philippe never lets it digress into drivel, and he is smart enough to put plenty of incredibly funny anecdotes and behind-the-scenes bits in. There are plenty of never-published-before snippets in it, and many of the ideas and inspirations are interesting.” Screen Anarchy

Release:

In the UK, Dogwolf released Memory: The Origins of Alien in cinemas on 30 August, on DVD and On-Demand on 2 September 2019.

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