Memory: The Origins of Alien Reminds You Of That One Scene You Can’t Forget

A new remembrance of a horrible dream.

Not Rated. Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

2019 is the 40th anniversary of a blockbuster sci-fi movie that spawned a franchise which continues to this day. But what if you feel you have something new to say about the picture even though it’s already been the subject of many non-fiction works? If you’re director Alexandre O. Philippe, you go for it anyway with the documentary Memory: The Origins of Alien. Whereas Philippe’s previous film 78/52 pierced deeply into the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Memory’s approach to Ridley Scott’s Alien is a bit more splattery. It seems at first to be about writer Dan O’Bannon, whose unfinished script Memory evolved into Alien after a stop by John Carpenter’s microbudget classic Dark Star, but Memory’s ultimate emphasis is on the famous chestburster scene, arguably the reason both Alien and Memory exist. Memory incorporates standard-definition footage from the definitive documentary Alien Evolution, only available on the out-of-print 2003 Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set. While little more than a primer on Alien, Memory being in HD means it will be more accessible in the immediate future than Evolution or other past docs, which may prove to be Memory’s true evolutionary advantage. And if you’re thinking about creating a non-fiction work about any other 1979 sci-fi movie? Don’t bother. There’s nothing left to be remembered.

Related Stories