Sundance Review: ‘Memory—The Origins of Alien’ Shows the Collaborative Effort of Making a Sci-Fi Masterpiece

Four decades after its release, it’s become etched in cinema history that Ridley Scott’s Alien was a landmark achievement in not only the science-fiction genre, but horror as well, and specifically the feat of nightmarish imagery that now exists in the deepest corridors of our collective conscious. As the compelling new documentary Memory—The Origins of Alien explores, the space odyssey “didn’t come out a vacuum.” Rather, it was an immensely collaborative effort that drew on paintings, novels, films, mythology, current events, and centuries-old sociological and ideological issues to conjure such a masterpiece.

Following up 78/52–Alexandre O. Philippe’s feature-length dissection of the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho–the majority of his new film once again zeroes in on an iconic scene: the chestburster sequence in Alien. In a creatively beneficial decision to not just focus on a single sequence however, Philippe takes a
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