Review: Memory: The Origins of Alien

Ridley Scott in “Memory: The Origins of Alien.”
Ridley Scott in “Memory: The Origins of Alien.”

Since its release on the eve of the ’80s, “Alien” has been parodied, homaged, ripped off and analyzed without end. “Memory: The Origins of Alien” sets out to investigate the film’s creative genesis, with a focus on the writing and pre-production process.

The film’s first problem is that of finding fresh territory to explore. After four decades of discussion, what more is there to be said? Most everyone of interest is either too dead (screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, artist H. R. Giger) or too famous (Ridley Scott, Sigourney Weaver) to appear on screen. The gap is filled with producers, supporting actors and, more often, no-name podcasters and academics. Director Alexandre O. Philippe’s unbelievably sprawling analysis draws a tangle of meaningless connections to Aeschylus, Woody Allen, Shakespeare, Ted Bundy, Watergate, divorce, feminism, British Imperialism, American imperialism and “Game of Thrones.”

Throughout the film, Philippe returns constantly to his tenuous theory that the alien represents the Furies, the ancient Greek spirits of vengeance.

“You see a major curse in the form of the alien, who’s very much a Fury, responding to an imbalance,” claims one interviewee. Do we?

“Alien” is an inspired film, yes — but it is, in fact, a film about a monster eating people on a spaceship. What does it add to insist that the xenomorph is “really” a coded representation of something from classical mythology? There’s no possible justification for paying money for this when better breakdowns of the “Alien” films are available on YouTube.