Roger Christian

Roger Christian in April 2011.[1]

Roger Christian (born February 25, 1944)[2] is an English set decorator, production designer and feature film director who worked on the 1979 film Alien. He won an Academy Award for his work on the original Star Wars and was Oscar-nominated for his work on Alien. Christian directed the second unit on both Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi[3] and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as well as other feature films including The Sender and Nostradamus. He is also known as the director of the 2000 film Battlefield Earth which is regarded to be one of the worst films ever made.[4][5][6]



Main article: Alien (film)

After Christian finished his work on Star Wars, he went on to art direct Monty Python's Life of Brian. In its first incarnation, however, the film was cancelled, allowing him to segue neatly on to Alien. Director Ridley Scott and production designer Michael Seymour had already decided to try Christian's technique of using scrap material to detail the interior of the Nostromo, but the process had proved more difficult than they'd anticipated.[7]

"They'd tried it a little bit, and I could see it hadn't worked," Christian recalled. "So we went round England buying scrap aeroplanes and breaking them down. It cost £50 for half an aeroplane, because it was sold by weight and aeroplanes are very light. I trained the prop boys in the technique of using the scrap, because you can’t just randomly do it — in a real aeroplane or a submarine, everything is in order and has a function. We painted everything army green, and I used aging techniques that John Box had taught me when I was tea boy for him on Oliver!, aging down the pipes, adding oil and drips and little graphic symbols. And that became the look of the Alien interiors."[7]

The interior sets were built as a complete unit, with every part interconnecting. "You walked in, and you were inside the Nostromo. You followed the corridors round and came to each set in turn. I loved watching people's reactions when they came to visit. The bridge set was massive — an amazing set. It took months to put everything into it. I wanted it so that, every time one of the crew flicked a switch, a light would come on, or something would react."[7]

Aside from his work on sets, Christian also designed the flamethrowers and pistols used by the crew of the Nostromo (the latter only ever seen holstered in the theatrical cut of the film).[8]

Christian speaks with great pride about his work on Scott's seminal science fiction horror film. "I think we got it right on Alien," he asserts. "The dressing, the guns, the props – everything fused together. I think the audience accepted that we’d gone out and found a spaceship, rented it and filmed inside it, and that it was old and battered and used."[7]

External links


  2. "Roger Christian". British Film Institute. Retrieved on November 26, 2013.
  3. Revenge of the Jedi call sheet
  4. Campbell, Duncan. "Cult classic", Guardian Unlimited, Guardian Newspapers Limited, May 31, 2000. Retrieved on [[July 29, 2006]]. “[...] Battlefield Earth has opened to spectacularly bad notices, many of which have suggested that the film is the worst of the year, the decade, the millennium or whatever exotic time-frame the alien Psychlos recognise.” 
  5. Farache, Emily. "Travolta Sets Sights on "Battlefield Earth 2"", E! Online, October 18, 2000. Retrieved on [[March 26, 2007]]. 
  6. Christian, Roger. "How dare they call my film a turkey; The director of the new John Travolta epic defends himself against his many critics", The Observer, June 4, 2000. Retrieved on [[July 23, 2010]]. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3
  8. Paul Scanlon, Michael Gross. The Book of Alien, p. 48 (1979), Heavy Metal Press.