Sure, it’s basically publicity material – but what publicity material!
by Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross, Titan Books
To coincide with the release of Prometheus, Titan Books is reprinting The Book of Alien, basically an official making-of, tie-in originally published by 20th Century Fox back in 1979 when they didn’t have DVDs, never mind behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Sure, you’re basically paying for publicity material when one thinks about it, but what publicity material it is!
You get 112 glossy pages of some rare stills, behind-the-scenes photographs and (best off all) early concept art by the likes of Alien production designer Ron Cobb, legendary sci-fi artist Chris Foss, French artist Jean (Moebius) Giraud and Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger – all survivors of the aborted attempt to bring a Dune movie to the big screen a few years before.
The text itself consists of chapters chronicling the movie’s creative origins as screenplay initially titled Star Beast and behind-the-scenes info on how the special effects, sets and props all came together.
Alas, The Book of Alien is not as exhaustive as one might hope. There are no chapters dealing with other aspects of the film’s production such as Jerry Goldsmith’s famous soundtrack or interviews with any of the actors.
Still, if there is one thing The Book of Alien manages to convey is how much effort, time and money go into making special effects blockbusters such as Alien. It is a huge team effort. The early concept art also makes one realize how much different the movie could have turned out in look and feel if it wasn’t for director Ridley Scott’s astute visual and design sense and how he managed to synthesize the efforts of the various talented people involved in the making of a bona fide science fiction classic.
At a mere 112 pages one is left wanting more, but that shows you just how good it all is. The Book of Alien is worth every penny you will spend on it. Highly recommended for both Alien fans and anyone seeking insight into the creative processes behind Hollywood movies. Kudos to Titan Books for reprinting it!