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The Alien Saga is a 2002 documentary directed by Brent Zacky and narrated by John Hurt that details the production of the films in the Alien franchise. Originally broadcast on television on November 13, 2002, it was later released on DVD on October 14th, 2003, and has since been included in the 2010 Alien Anthology Blu-ray set. It features interviews with a range of cast and crew from the films, including Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver and H. R. Giger.

Overview

The documentary is divided into six separate chapters, the central four dealing with each of the four films while the first and last act as epilogue and prologue, respectively. Narration is provided by John Hurt, the actor who played Kane in Alien.

Birth

The first chapter details how the original concept of the Alien came about, and how many of the crew members who would go on to define the creature in the first film met each other. Sigourney Weaver also discusses how she won the part of Ripley, with footage of her early screen tests.

It includes interviews with writers Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, producer David Giler, actress Sigourney Weaver, and 20th Century Fox executive Alan Ladd, Jr., along with an archive interview with director Ridley Scott.

Alien

The second and longest chapter covers the production of Alien, from the start of filming all the way through to release, including how many of the pivotal scenes and sets were constructed. The chapter also details some of the cuts made to the film before release, including censorship for violence and the deleted Eggmorphing scene, and the related merchandising, even touching on the controversial 18" Alien figure from Kenner Products.

It includes interviews with Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, David Giler, actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright, Alien designer H. R. Giger, conceptual artist Ron Cobb, and model supervisor Martin Bower, along with an archive interview with Ridley Scott.

Aliens

The third chapter covers the production of Aliens, from the inception of its plot by James Cameron through the filming of the movie to its release and hugely positive reception. The documentary also covers (and shows footage of) some of the lengthy sequences that were cut from the film for its theatrical release, but later reinstated in its extended Special Edition.

It includes interviews with David Giler, actors Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen, H. R. Giger, Ron Cobb, and effects artist Alec Gillis, along with an archive interview with director James Cameron.

Alien3

The fourth chapter covers the production of Alien3, again touching on many ideas that were ultimately dropped from the film (including Babe the ox being the original host for the Dragon).

It includes interviews with David Giler, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, H. R. Giger, and effects artists Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr..

Alien Resurrection

The fifth chapter covers the production of Alien Resurrection, touching on Weaver's basketball scene, the redesign of the Aliens, the filming of the failed clone and underwater chase scenes, and the Newborn creature.

It includes interviews with actors Sigourney Weaver and Brad Dourif, Alec Gillis, and Tom Woodruff, Jr., along with an archive interview with director Joss Whedon.

Future

The final chapter briefly summarises where the franchise may go in the future, including mention of the various video games based on the series, the wealth of fan rumors surrounding a fifth film, and talk of a potential crossover movie with the Predator franchise (which had not yet happened when the documentary was made).

It includes interviews with David Giler, Sigourney Weaver and Tom Woodruff, Jr., along with an archive interview with James Cameron.

Availability

Shortly after its broadcast, The Alien Saga was released on DVD with a number of bonus features. The documentary has subsequently been included in the Alien Anthology and Prometheus to Alien: The Evolution Blu-ray sets.

Reception

Based on 49 reviews, the film holds a "Certified Fresh" rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average critic score of 8.1 out of 10. Based on 302 user reviews, The Alien Saga currently has a 7.2 rating on IMDb.

DVD release

Bill Hunt from The Digital Bits said of the DVD release: "For those of you waiting to slam your cash down on the barrel head when the Alien Quadrilogy arrives in stores, The Alien Saga is worth a look as well. It doesn't compete with the Quadrilogy and isn't meant to. Instead, it makes a nice complement to the forthcoming set. Think of it as the snack before dinner, at a bargain-bin price. If you're a serious Alien fan, it's definitely worth having on your video shelf."

Trivia

  • The archive documentary clips featuring Ridley Scott that appear in the documentary were originally filmed for the earlier documentary The Making of Alien3, while the clips of James Cameron and Joss Whedon were filmed for HBO First Look: The Making of Alien Resurrection.
  • The documentary was produced by a company called Prometheus Entertainment — a decade before Ridley Scott would revive the Alien series with Prometheus.
  • Notably, the bonus material included on the documentary's DVD — four short production featurettes for Aliens ("Grunts in Space", "Behind the Scenes" and profile pieces on James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver) and some unedited Weaver screen test footage — remain exclusive to that release; this material was not included in the otherwise extremely comprehensive Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set.[1]

Gallery

External links

References

  1. "The Digital Bits - Blu-ray Review: Alien Anthology". Retrieved on 2016-01-11.