The Beast Within: Making Alien is a 2003 making-of documentary directed by Charles de Lauzirika that details the production of the 1979 film Alien. Created for the Alien Quadrilogy DVD release, it uses extensive interviews with the film's cast and crew, as well as a wealth of behind the scenes footage, to detail the development, filming and release of the movie.
The documentary is divided into nine separate chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of Alien's production. As with all of Charles de Lauzirika's documentaries on the films in the Alien series, it features no formal narration but instead relies on newly-filmed interview clips to tell the story of the film's development, interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage and images.
Star Beast: Developing the Story
The first chapter covers the creation of the story that would become Alien, with creators Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett discussing how the plot was conceived and developed. It also covers how many of the production crew on the film, especially with regards to the concept artists, first met, including Ron Cobb and H. R. Giger. The development of the script, which was at times a battle of wills between its original writers, O'Bannon and Shusett, and the production team of Walter Hill, David Giler and Gordon Carroll, is also detailed.
The Visualists: Direction and Design
The second chapter covers the search for a director, with Giler and Carroll eventually settling on Ridley Scott, and Scott's subsequent work with Giger to storyboard the movie.
Truckers in Space: Casting
The third chapter covers the search for stars to play the roles, including the decision to cast Ripley, who was originally supposed to be male, with a female actress to make the film more noteworthy. Jon Finch's casting as Kane and subsequent departure due to illness is also covered.
Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978
The fourth chapter deals with filming at Shepperton Studios, and includes a wealth of behind the scenes stories and footage.
The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet
The fifth chapter covers the production design carried out by Ron Cobb, who designed much of the Nostromo's interior, and Roger Christian and Leslie Dilley, who designed the surface of LV-426. Included is much footage of Cobb's Nostromo set, which was entirely interconnected and as a result imparted the cast and crew with a very real sense of claustrophobia.
The Eighth Passenger: Creature Design
The sixth and longest chapter deals with H. R. Giger's work on the derelict ship and, most famously, the Alien itself. The segment also goes over the infamous Chestburster scene in great detail, explaining how the sequence was created and in the process dispelling the myth that none of the cast knew what would happen. Also detailed is Carlo Rambaldi's work creating the animatronics necessary to bring the adult Alien's 'face' to life, specifically its lethal pharyngeal jaw.
Future Tense: Editing and Music
The seventh chapter shows Terry Rawlings discussing his work editing the film, and Jerry Goldsmith describing the process of composing the soundtrack for the movie, including his dissatisfaction with the way some of his score was used.
Outward Bound: Visual Effects
The eighth chapter covers the miniatures used to depict the Nostromo in flight, including Ridley Scott's often drastic last-minute alterations to the models. Eventually, all of the original footage filmed by the visual effects department was scrapped and Ridley oversaw reshoots personally.
A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reaction to the Film
The final chapter covers the release of the film, including the terror it induced in audiences. While the film's critical response was initially mixed, it was a hit with audiences and many theatres experienced queues that stretched around the block as cinema-goers waited to get in.
Originally presented in a 4×3 aspect ratio for the Alien Quadrilogy box set, Lauzirika elected to "rebuild" the documentary for the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set as a 16×9 widescreen presentation. This conversion essentially entailed the cropping of the interview and vintage on-set footage to the new widescreen format, while the various title graphics were replaced with newly rendered equivalents.
For the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set, several previously-unreleased "Enhancement Pods", essentially deleted scenes taken from the main documentary, were made available for the first time. These cover a wide range of topics, many of which are already mentioned in the documentary itself, and provide minor additional details and trivia. Unlike the main documentaries, these did not undergo conversion to a widescreen aspect ratio.
- "Conceiving the Alien Lifecycle"
- "The Influence of Jodorowsky's Dune"
- "O'Bannon Working with Shusett"
- "Ridley Scott's Epiphany"
- "Jon Finch Sets the Record Straight"
- "Finding the Right Ripley"
- "Actors as Props"
- "Sigourney Weaver Learns the Ropes"
- "The Functional Art of Ron Cobb"
- "Dailies: Parker and Brett Ad-Lib"
- "That Used Future Look"
- "Bolaji Badejo Alien Movement Tests"
- "Discovering Bolaji Badejo"
- "Giger on Giger"
- "The Distrubing Brilliance of H. R. Giger"
- "James Cameron Dissects Alien"
- "Cocoon of Love"
- "Jerry Goldsmith Recalls Alien"
- "Goldsmith on Silence"
- "The Pros and Cons of Temp Tracks"
- "Same-Sex Relationships in Space"
- "Toy Birds of Destruction"
- "Oscar Night Memories"
- "Test Footage: Nostromo on Forklift"
- "End of a Genre"
- "First Impressions"
- "O'Bannon's Fight for Credit"
- The title of the first chapter in the documentary, "Star Beast", is a reference to the original name of the script that became Alien.
- Similarly, the second chapter's title, "The Visualists", is a reference to Ridley Scott's first ever motion picture, The Duellists.
- The title of the sixth chapter, "The Eighth Passenger", was a subtitle for Alien that was used in certain markets.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "The Digital Bits - Blu-ray Review: Alien Anthology". Retrieved on 2016-01-11.