Alien: Landscape with alien astronaut corpse

leading from : 

a) Ridley and the space jockey's coming and goings
When the derelict and the silo were combined, the presence of the remains of a dead pilot in its seat is to be found within the ship was being considered as no longer necessary due to the economic reasons.

The decisions to remove him and put him back numbered a few. Ridley Scott, Gordon Carroll and Ivor Powell wanted him in, they had become fully confirmed "space freaks" by then.

They were already over budget and running about three weeks behind schedule which Ridley didn't think was unreasonable for that sort of a film.

While it was going to be ditched, Ridley, Gordon and Ivor held onto it,  Ridley thought that to have the explorers walk into the derelict pilot chamber and find nothing but just a hole in the floor was completely pointless.

However, the alternative was to have a the impression of an alien body imbedded in a rock formation of the landscape outside of the derelict and Giger would be the one to design it.

It was on May the 14th 1978, when Giger talked with Gordon Carrol and then Ridley Scott over the phone from his home in Switzerland, to visualise a new idea that they have for the script that would be to design the skeleton of the alien pilot that would be discovered amidst the alien landscape. Perhaps Ridley and Gordon mentioned the film Blow-Up in his conversation over the phone with Giger about the idea, because this film was in Giger's head afterwards.





b) Skull face on the monitor
In Ridley Scott's storyboards, the explorers would walk past the body embedded in the rocks, the audience would see it and amongst the Nostromo crew only Ash the android would see an impression of thing in the transmission from the video camera while he remains on board the Nostromo during the exploration, and he rewinds the tape to have a closer look at the thing and says nothing. Later a clearer impression of the creature's face would be seen on the monitor




c) Blow-Up
There was the idea that the scene would be perceived as being like the Michelangelo Antonioni 1966 film "Blow-Up" , a movie where the director claimed that until the film was edited , he would have no idea himself what it would be about and perhaps not even then. 

In that film lead character would be forever blowing up photos that he had taken to uncover a murder and there he would find suggestion of a dead body of a human hidden in the bushes is only discovered once the negatives are developed, a film that Alien's production designer Michael Seymour had worked on. And Verushka,  a famous long limbed model of the time who appeared in the film also briefly considered to perform the role of the Alien long before the found Bolaji Badejo. 

Poster for Blow Up

lead character investigating photograohs
Photo vaguely revealing the dead body of a woman

d) Ron Shusett and the Studios bosses' double dealings
The studios bosses that comprised of people such as Peter Beale, said to Ron Shusett "you can't put that set in".

Ron and the others said said "why?"

They said "It's only used once in the movie, it's not like your gonna come back to it. It's different if you keep using the set. This is massively expensive, this big creature, this big back wall. No, we can't give you this. lt's too expensive."
 
As far as Ron knew, it would have cost $500,000

They said" This is not your main set". However what they were able to offer him was an alternative ''You're just gonna have to walk by and see a skeletal imprint in the mud of this 15-foot creature, and then you'll walk into this strange-looking building. lt'll be a bunker or something that's constructed at angles.''  and a few empty spore cases would be discovered. This idea of a bunker seem to be the last stand for the construction bleeding through from Giler and Hill earlier drafts.

Ron replied"No, no, no. Look, you need... This is your Cecil B DeMille shot. You need to have this full scale built. You need to have this full scale built, so they know they're right there, so their jaw drops, so they say "This isn't some little Roger Corman movie made to look pretty good, this is one of the most amazing movies I've ever seen. "

Still the reply coming back was "No, you can't have it, it costs way too much"

For quite some time Dan and Ron was downhearted by the whole fact that they weren't going to have the space jockey set at all and they were just going to have to fake it with this ridiculous impression of the thing in the ground. On a day Ron decided to take a walk to the back of the studio which had about a dozen sound stages, and he walked to the back and saw to his surprise that the set was almost completed, he was confused since he was told that they were not going to have the dead alien pilot in its seat in the chamber. He thought that they had made a mistake and that the construction didn't get the message from the studio bosses in London and that they weren't supposed to build it. He kept his mouth shut and in another two weeks, it was completely built and then Ron went to Peter Beale who was second from the top and said to him "You built the set, the one you said couldn't afford to give us"

Peter Beale replied "Yeah we know, because as the The dailies looked so good day after day, and and Ridley kept begging for this , and we realised we should go, kit was worth the investment. But we didn't wanna tell you 'cause then you'd never stop asking.  Every single thing, ten other things, you'd want"

Ron thought this was quite  funny. He didn't think that Ridley knew about it for a long time either.

It was on July 5th 1978 that Giger would hear of the decision to put the alien pilot back in the cockpit again.

e) One leg or two?
In Giger's painting of the planetoid landscape (work 385) we see an image of the remains of a humanoid figure that would have been of the Space Jockey when they had decided to have it as something seen unnoticed on the surface of the planetoid landscape.  Once I knew about this detail, and looked at the image that Ridley Scott selected from Necronom V the concept of the Space Jockey which appeared to be this nearly humanoid skeletal thing with one limb where the two legs would be, (SEE: Space Jockey Evolution via Giger's Necronomicon pt, 1 ) So I began to wonder whether this space jockey corpse should have one lower limb or two.

Detail from painting of the planetoid landscape (work 385)

Detail from painting of the planetoid landscape (work 385) (detail)
In 2013, Giger's Alien Diaries (7 & 8) were published and on page possible p42 of the actual book and page 23 of Giger's own diary number 7 was a drawing of the space jockey. This entity again looks as if it might have one limb for a leg or maybe the other one is hidden or it's just not clear, and one might think that it's cradled in the palm of a giant hand as if the rock shape at the bottom left is a thumb.

dead alien astronaut sketch from Giger's Alien Diaries


f) The Space Jockey corpse in the landscape as a Christ taken down from the Cross
27th March 2017: I am looking through the images from 1978 at Radio Times Collectors on Facebook, I come by a Radio Times cover for Easter that year, and since I have been looking at how Giger referenced images from the magazine for his paintings since his time on Alien, I begin to wonder if Giger had started looking at the Radio Times covers and thought about this Jesus Christ being taken down from the cross as a starting point, considering that the legs are together almost as if fused into one.

Giger had already taken religious iconography and transformed it into science fictional items in his painting (See: Nativity Scene integrated into Biomechanic landscape i (work-297) (1976)), this might have been another opportunity, and there might those who claim that Jesus was an astronaut.

Having said that, this Christ would just be an example of a Jesus Christ being taken down from the cross, it is not exactly like the Space Jockey's form and there aren't many shared features to pin down that are specific to the two, but it's near enough and there are other possible examples that he might have seen at the time since the idea in the composition is of course very popular and to be found around many churches and art galleries in museums. We could make a page full of such images and see if one of them has any specific similarities.

Source of Radio Times image: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154673705234545&set=g.235808070436&type=1&theater


Radio Times 25-31 March 1978



Radio Times cover and astronau's corpse for comparison


g) A missing concept painting
Ever since having seen the painting of the Alien landscape and noticed the dead space jockey detail,  I wondered if Giger had done any other drawings or paintings to explore further this corpse and over time began to wonder if the painting that Ridley Scott is seen standing in front of in photographs together with Giger and Gordon Carroll standing together. Surrounding shape in the painting also recall the surrounding rock formations that Giger sketched out in his pencil sketch. It was an image certainly of an alien space jockey type thing but in what context was not known, but the upper torso was obvious in the painting seen. It might well be the mentioned work 386 of the alien corpse detail before 386 became the designated number for the egg silo interior artwork.

photo from Giger's Alien, p12

detail from above colour photo
detail from above black and white photo

Source Quotes
  1. Ron Shusett: Giger's sets were so erotic, and... There's big vaginas, and penises. The whole thing is like you're going inside some sort of... womb, or whatever. lt's visceral and all of those things, and l think all those elements came into it, and that's what makes it really work. On the so-called ''Space Jockey'', which... Giger, by the way, designed that whole set, and he hand-brushed the alien, airbrushed it himself, and got on a scaffold and airbrushed the whole set so it would have that eerie texture. But the thing was this: it was too expensive a set, they didn't wanna give it to us.
    They said ''You're only in here one time. lt's different if you keep using the set.''
    ''This is massively expensive, this big creature, this big back wall.''
    ''No, we can't give you this. lt's too expensive.''
    l think it was, like, $500,000.
    They said ''This is not your main set.''
    ''You're just gonna have to walk by and see a skeletal imprint in the mud of this 15-foot creature, and then you'll walk into this strange-looking building.''
    ''lt'll be a bunker or something that's constructed at angles.
    ''
    (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  2. This set cost a staggering amount of money. We built it full scale, and for its day it was just way hugely expensive. And for half the movie, they told us they wouldn't let us build it, the 15 foot tall so called space jockey and the walls and everything, and Giger hand airbrushed them, 'cause that was his artwork, on a scaffold. The creature and the whole thing. Besides his personal labour and effort just duplicating this and building this, they said "you can't put that set in".
    We said "why?"
    He said "it's only used once in the movie, it's not like your gonna come back to it. It's way too expensive. We'll just have him shoot a fifteen foot imprint in the clay of the creature as he's walking"
    And we said "No, no, no. Look, you need... This is your Cecil B DeMille shot. You need to have this full scale built."
    So they know they're right there, so their jaw drops, so they say "This isn't some little Roger Corman movie made to look pretty good, this is one of the most amazing movies I've ever seen.""
    They said, "No, You can't have it, it costs way too much"
    So they went on, we, you know, we were shooting the movie, we we thought they... we weren't gonna have to have the set at all, we were going to have to fake it and  have a stupid thing in the ground. And one day, the studio's so big, there are 10 or 12 sound stages and I walked to the back, and I saw the set was almost completed and it was up already.  And they told us we were not going to friggin have it in the movie. This was two thirds of the way through the movie. I thought they had made a mistake, that the contruction department didn't get the message from the high-ups in London, that they weren't supposed to build it. So I shut my mouth up. And in another two weeks later it was completely built, and it was completely built and I went to Peter Beale, who was second from the top and I said "You built the set, the one you said we couldn't afford to give us"

    He said "Yeah we know, because as the The dailies looked so good day after day, and and Ridley kept begging for this , and we realised we should go, kit was worth the investment. But we didn't wanna tell you 'cause then you'd never stop asking. (00:29:00) Every single thing, ten other things, you'd want"
    
So I thought that was kind of funny. I don't think Ridley knew about it for a long time either. I didn't know about it until it was completed.
  3. Giger: Saturday evening, May 14, 1978, 7.45pm, Finally received a phonecall from London. First talked with Gordon Carroll, then with Ridley Scott. They have a new idea for the script that I should visualize. The skeleton of the astronaut, which used to be in the spacecraft, should now be placed in the landscape, blending in so that it can't be distinguished, and the crew wouldn't it until they see it on the recorder, back in the spaceship. Like the film "Blow-up" where the figure hidden in the bushes is only discovered once the negatives are developed.(Giger's Alien Diaries, p173,)
  4. Giger: I finished the requested picture, Alien No. 385 of astronaut on landscape , + Detail No.386 (unfinished) (Giger's Alien Diaries,May 15th to 17th , 1978 p173,)
  5. Giger: Scott doesn't like the details of the skeleton. I have to rework the image. (Giger's Alien Diaries, May 18th , 1978 p173)
  6. Giger: They want the skeleton of the Alien space jockey to lie  in the cockpit again. This was communicated by Michael Seymour (Giger's Alien Diaries,  July 4th 1978, p241) 
  7. Ridley Scott : He was in and out. in and out, in and out. I wanted him in and so did Gordon Carroll and Ivor Powell. By then we'd become fully confirmed space freaks. But there were others who wanted it out, mainly for economic reasons. We were already over budget and running about three weeks behind schedule - which I don't think was unreasonable for that sort of film personally. So at one point, it was going to be ditched; but we rigidly held onto it. We felt we had to have it in there as a sort of a central element in the craft. I mean, to have them walk in there and find nothing - just a hole in the floor - was bloody pointless. (Alien the special effects, p36)

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting points! I can't imagine anything creepier in the film than for the crew to have returned to the Nostromo and while Kane is being treated in the autodoc, they all review the expedition's video to find...the fossilized corpse in the landscape! Would've upped the tension, to say the least!

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  2. Well, I'm very glad that Ridley managed to get the space jockey in it's pilot chair. It would have been a very different thing without it on

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