Alien Resurrection: The Newborn

leading from

a) The idea behind the Newborn
The idea of the newborn was mimicking, much like Ripley 8 was a human whose DNA had been scattered because of Alien contamination.

The Newborn was going to be an alien whose DNA had been contaminated by human DNA, which was also the idea behind the alien queen and the alien warriors in the movie

A choice of aliens on a piece of paper


b) Designs by Chris Halls
Chris Halls/Cunningham did some concept sketches for the Newborn which Tom Woodruff found to be beautiful.

What they knew that they wanted was a giant sized alien that had two arms and two legs, the long head and a weird body, but they decided to make it look as if it was already rotting and petrified,

There was also the idea that it was as if the thing was a dead thing that had been born and was already starting to decompose which was more or less the concept the Ridley Scott had behind the original alien while he was making the movie.

Chris did them both on the same piece of paper and at the bottom he drew a sketch that was a very human figure with a sort of sunken chest and pot belly with an alien head on it as if it was done in jest, and Tom thought it was very funny.




Tom said  "This looks like some old actor wearing an alien head,"

They presented Jean-Pierre with the drawings expecting him to pick the top alien but Jean-Pierre then  saw the little alien drawing at the bottom and said "I love this, this is the Newborn"

And with that ADI had to drive the development down a direction to satisfy his interest in the silly proportions of this illustration without it just being an alien head on a scrawny man.

(See: Chris Cunningham Hall's Newborn alien)

c) The Design Process
The next stage was to follow the design process, going along with the idea that there is no one direction or just one design out there that's going to work.

ADI's method followed the idea of casting a very wide net and go off in all kinds of directions with loose sketches and look at different things.

Their idea was that this was a very organic process where one thing grows into another.

(See: the Jordu Schell page and click on links to see artwork and maquettes)

One of Jordu Schell's Newborn maquetes

d) Losing sight of Chris Halls' design
What Chris did in his drawings of the beast was revered with wonder by many afterwards and perhaps it might have been nice if they had gone with his concepts alone.

Even the Sylvain Despretz had good words to say about Chris' work.

However it was a fact that Chris remained in England unable to be present in the studio to push his vision.

The Newborn  and Ripley 8.

Pictured: creature effects sculptors, Jeff Buccacio and Steve Koch are posing
with the Newborn Alien. (Source: Facebook)

e) Features from Ripley's face
There was some reference that the Newborn had to look like Ripley, but ADI were never big believers in incorporating the beautiful face of Sigourney Weaver into a monster's face.

The only time that they knew it had successfully been done was in HR Giger's paintings, where it has a creepy but beautiful quality.

Their problem was trying to ground the design and they didn't want to make it look as if it was straight out of Species. They took a different track to humanizing the creature.

Head and shoulders of the newborn

f) It should have Ripley's eyes
Chris' original design didn't have eyes but had the now traditional alien dome covering that part of the face, but the final alien creature would have eyes.

ADI were saying "the alien have never had eyes and the audience have come to know it that way and come to appreciate it that way"

It appeared Jean-Pierre Jeunet that ADI had suggested the idea of having the newborn with eyes to Jean-Pierre, he hesitated for a moment, and it seemed as if it were him who was having the idea of having the newborn but Jean-Pierre Jeunet was suggesting the eyes, "yes but this is different because it's been contaminated by Ripley's DNA, so not only should it have eyes, it should have Ripley's eyes."

The change in direction was to move away from the standard biomechanical look and thought in terms of very strong classical  death imagery, a skull like face, and try to lay it in textures that would make it part human and part Alien.

But ADI were not too happy about attempting to put Sigourney's beautiful brown eyes into the creature's skull like face.

Tom was worried about it looking like a totally different sort of creature but ultimately their job was to go in the direction that the director wanted, and they couldn't get rid of the idea showing the eyes

Newborn's eyes

g) Digital castration

There was a scene where the Newborn would, as it were, 'make out' with Ripley. Sigourney was a daring actress, now fueled with Cronenbergundian enthusiasm , both she and Jean-Pierre wanted to disturb the Fox executives.

There the film crew was with the 1500 lb hydraulic creature, with Sigourney Weaver embracing and caressing it. It was a scary situation because it could have knocked her out if something happened or it head butted her. This was basically why they didn't go for a mechanical creature in the first Alien movie because of the danger. 

There was an issue regarding the Newborn's genitalia and that Jean-Pierre would joke that since he was French, he wanted something sexy in the movie. Sigourney in particular was in favour of going further with the sexual attraction between the Newborn and Ripley, to the point where the creature would require articulated genitalia.

This Newborn had a gliding tongue that they would control and there were several takes where they had to get it right in Sigourney's mouth. Together with that, there was also an articulated erection that they built for the creature. ADI built them as a combination of male and female organs, they wanted to be a little vague about what sex the creature was. It disengaged from the vaginal canal and came out. Perhaps it was Tom Rothman who said in response "We're not having a fucking boner in an Alien movie!"

Jeunet would even confess later on "Even for me, it was too much."

So, in the end, the genitals wouldn't be seen, they shot around them and because of the creature's height, there would be a lot of shooting over its shoulder, and in some cases, they would have to digitally remove the genitals. Tthe digital genital removal in Alien Resurrection was surely a first.


Maquette showing genitalia
 

h) Further Confusion
Also the culmination of that was the newborn who is really half human and half alien. It came out of the need to show something more up front.

Jean-Pierre thought that the creature had a touch of King-Kong to it. He would have loved to use red blood but it wasn't permitted and it had to be yellow.

Alec Gillis himself admitted that he wasn't happy with the Newborn character, but it was the best they could do at the time.

The new aliens were more communicative with each other and also aggressive.

Giger could see traces from the head of one of his unused alien designs in the creature but he thought that it resembled Donald Duck and looked ridiculous.

Having said this, if one put the creature in a movie where it had nothing to do with Alien might have invited different comments about it.


Alien design concept that appear to have inspired the side of the Alien newborn
complete with holes in the side of the cranium

Quote sources
  1. Sigourney Weaver: I'm not sure how I feel about the alien child. It was another way to kind of riff  on the whole maternal theme from the second one. (Alien The Archive: p251)
  2. Tom Woodruff: The idea of the newborn was mimicking, much like Sigourney was a human clone whose DNA had been scattered because of alien contamination. The Newborn was going to be an alien whose DNA had been contaminated by human DNA. (Alien The Archive: p294)
  3. Tom Woodruff: Chris did some beautiful sketches. We knew we wanted it to be a giant sized alien and to have two arms and two legs and the long alien head and the weird body, but we decided to make it look like it was already rotting and petrified, as if it had been a dead thing that had been born and started to decompose. Chris had done a sketch that was a very human figure with this kind of sunken chest and a pot belly with an alien head on it. I thought it was very funny. I said, 'This looks like some old actor wearing an alien head," and Jean-Pierre saw it and he said' I love this, this is the Newborn." We do a design process, there is no one direction, because there's never just one design out there that's going to work. So what we try to do is cast a very wide net and go off in all kinds of directions with loose sketches and look at different things. It's a very organic process, one thing grows into another. (Alien The Archive: p294-296)
  4. Tom Woodruff: While Halls' initial design didn't have eyes, the final creatures somewhat controversially did. That became the biggest design conversation we had. Jean-Pierre really wanted to have eyes in the alien and we said, "the alien have never had eyes and the audience have come to know it that way and come to appreciate it that way" and he said "yes but this is different because it's been contaminated by Ripley's DNA, so not only should it have eyes, it should have Ripley's eyes" . Sigourney's got these beautiful brown eyes and you put those eyes in this skull like face, it's still not going to be Ripley.  I was worried about it looking like a total different birth of a creature. Ultimately we had to go in the direction the director wanted or you could say we were not successful in the derailing his wanting to see eyes. (Alien The Archive: p298)
  5. Jean-Pierre Jeunet: We needed someone new someone more touching and he's very cruel, very bad, he kills the mother. So it's a mix of something sweet and something very tough and this is one of the themes of this film. It's about incest because Ripley is the mother and she makes a kind of love with the son.  It's disturbing.  Probably this is the reason some American people don't like like so much Alien4 because it's about sex and they are always embarrassed about sex. (Alien The Archive: p298)
  6. Tom Woodruff: Jean-Pierre saw this kind of silly, proportions of this thing, we had to drive it down that direction to satisfy what he liked in that the drawing without it being an alien head on a scrawny man . (Alien The Archive: p297)
  7. Alec Gillis: There was some reference that the Newborn had to look like Ripley, but we were never big believers in incorporating such a beautiful woman's face as Sigourney's into a monster's face. The only time it has been successfully done has been in H R Giger's paintings, where it has a creepy kind of beautiful quality. The problem with that is trying to ground it. We didn't want to do something that looked like it was straight out of Species. So we took a different track in humanizing the creature. We moved away from the standard bio-mechanical look and thought in terms of a very strong sort of classical death imagery, a skull-like face, and tried to lay it in textures that would make it look part human and part Alien. (Fangoria #170, p28)
  8. Alec Gillis: There was this issue of the Newborn's genitalia, and Jean Pierre used to joke that since he was French, he had to have something sexy in the movie. Sigourney is a daring actress and she and Jean-Pierre wanted to disturb the Fox executives. Sigourney in particular was in favor of going further with the sexual attraction between the Newborn and Ripley, to the point where the creature would have articulated genitalia. So we built them; they were a combination of make and female organs. We wanted to be a little vague about what the sex of the creature is. Ultimately you don't see the genitals as much - they shot around them. Because of the Newborn's height there was a lot of shooting over its shoulders, and in some cases they had to digitally remove the genitals. I'm not sure that has ever been done before - digital genital removal. (Fangoria #170, p28)
  9. Alec Gillis: True story: Chris Cunningham did these two designs on the same page. The dumpy guy on the bottom was done in jest. We presented the one on top, but the director liked the one on the bottom. That set the tone for the development of the Newborn Alien. ( ) (https://www.instagram.com/p/BDY4qRwqokJ/ March 25th 2016)
  10. Ciné Saga: C'était une volonté de jour avec la bête? De la rendre presque humains? Was it the will of the day with the beast? To make it almost human?
    Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Oui. Il y avait un nouveau-né, il fallait donc modifier l'alien. Quand ADI nous l'a proposé avec des yeux, j'ai hésité un moment. Il avait un petit côté King Kong. On nous a parfois reproché de dénaturer l'alien de Ridley Scott mais il fallait bien apporter quelque chose de nouveau. Il est assez touchant mais il rest quand même assez dégueulasse! [Rires] J'aurais aimé que le sang soit rouge mais c'était interdit. Il fallait qu'il soit jaune. C'est dommage, ça fait plus peinture ou huile.

    Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Yes. There was a newborn, so we had to change the alien. When ADI suggested it to us with eyes, I hesitated a moment. He had a small side King Kong. We've been criticized for altering Ridley Scott's alien, but we had to bring something new. He's pretty touching but he's still pretty disgusting! [Laughs] I wish the blood was red but it was forbidden. It had to be yellow. It's a shame, it's more paint or oil
    .(Ciné Saga # 17) 
  11. Ethan Alter: Alien: Resurrection is celebrating its 20th anniversary in November, and that film occupies an even more controversial space in Alien canon than Alien 3. It’s probably not the strongest film of the series from a story perspective, but there is some fascinating imagery in it. It feels very rooted in European graphic novels.
    Gillis: We knew what Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s body of work was, so we knew he was going to bring a more European sensibility to it. I always thought Fox was very creative in their choice of directors, and what made him different was his whimsical side. He embraced absurdism and whimsy rather than a hardcore sci-fi approach. You could see he was excited to be in Hollywood, and had a great appreciation for everything we did. The Newborn would not have been what it was if it hadn’t been for him. He wanted the eyes, the male/female gender combo, the human/alien combo, and the young/old combo. It was a lot of stuff to pack into one creature, but once again, why not? (https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/alien-creature-design-duo-takes-us-inside-20-years-xenomorph-ing-174139859.html)
  12. Gillis: And leave it to a French director to get back to the sexuality of the franchise! [Laughs] The original Alien is a weird sex movie, basically, while both Aliens and Alien 3 are more about parental issues like motherhood. So Jeunet did bring back a sexual component, like the makeout scene with the Newborn. There we were with a 1500-lb. hydraulic creature, and Sigourney Weaver is embracing it and caressing it. It was a little bit scary, because it could have knocked Sigourney out if something happened and it head-butted her. It had a gliding tongue we could control, and there were several takes where we got it right in Sigourney’s mouth. There was also an articulated erection that we built [for the Newborn]. It sort of disengaged from the vaginal canal and came out. I think [former Fox executive] Tom Rothman was the one who said, “We’re not having a f—ing boner in an Alien movie!” And later on, Jean-Pierre confessed: “Even for me, it was too much.” [Laughs] But he went for it. He stayed true to the themes [of the franchise] and was as garish as Paul Verhoeven would have been. (https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/alien-creature-design-duo-takes-us-inside-20-years-xenomorph-ing-174139859.html)

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