|Selected from Ultimate DVD #05|
RETURN OF THE SPACE GIRL
After four apocalyptic battles with vicious alien beings, youd probably want to stay away from outer space.
Not Sigourney Weaver, who along with the release of the Alien Legacy box-set (see below) returns to the stars in the current Galaxy Quest
Feature by Anwar Brett
Considering the significant role that the Alien movies have played in her career, Sigourney Weavers first reaction to being offered a part in them was less than ecstatic.
Its true, she shrugs, smiling. I read the script and unless you put in those amazing Giger designs, then it was very generic. I just pictured this big glob of yellow jelly chasing people through the spacecraft.
Crediting Ridley Scotts directorial vision - as well as HR Gigers groundbreaking design - with changing her mind, Weaver went on to a varied post-Alien career. She was Oscar nominated for her roles in Working Girl, Gorillas in the Mist and, most unusually for the very sci-fi role about which she was so sceptical, in James Camerons 1986 follow up, Aliens.
With Ripley now transformed into someone prepared to take the fight to her deadly foe the tone was set for the subsequent sequels. Camerons film, following his success with The Terminator bristled with a similar muscularity. When I read the Aliens script I was working very hard on something else, says Weaver, and I think I must have skipped over all the stage directions which went on and on and on about the guns. I didnt realize that they were a star of the film until I got there, and this amazing hardware kept coming out every day. I was a member of handgun control, so I was amazed that I was in this warlike picture. I was never comfortable with that aspect of it.
While acknowledging the impact that Ripley has had on her career, the self possessed and exceedingly sensible Sigourney Weaver can content herself that there is more than one lucrative string to her bow. In between Ripley's tours of duty she has won acclaim for the aforementioned Gorillas in the Mist, playing renowned zoologist Dian Fossey. She has played in offbeat comedies like the Ghostbusters movies, and light, sophisticated pieces such as Dave. There have also been taut and insightful dramas such as The Ice Storm and Death and the Maiden, and she can currently be seen in the delicious spoof Galaxy Quest.
The prospect of another outing for Weaver as Ellen Ripley still cannot entirely be written off. If they were to come to me in 20 years with a script in which Ripley has long white hair and a cane, and says lets go back to the planet! who knows, I might say sure. But I think each time you revisit that territory you need a better script and a director who can bring a fresh take to it. But I have no moral position about doing another Alien film. Ill worry about it if and when it exists.
Full feature in Ultimate DVD #05
Sigourney on DVD
THE ALIEN LEGACY - Region 2 release
All four Alien films are released on DVD on May 15th, and we've given each one a separate in-depth review in this issue (covering six pages in total). But if you want to put all your Alien eggs in one basket, just take a look at this box set...
Available for a bargain price (compared to buying each disc separately - Web Ed), The Alien Legacy box set contains all four individual movies plus a free bonus disc.
This 65-minute documentary is a detailed look at the making of the first movie, featuring new interviews with writers Dan OBannon and Ronald Shusett, director Ridley Scott, and conceptual artists HR Giger and Ron Cobb, all conducted in 1999.
Their stories prove fascinating (Alien got the green light when Star Wars hit big, Ripley was originally to be played by a man ) and are supported by some excellent vintage footage of work on set (including Giger creating the Alien and Space Jockey in his own secure studio).
The best, however, is the film of John Hurt being wired up for the chest burster (a fag in one hand and a class of dry white wine in the other) and the shots of a man called Bolaji (who Scott found in a pub) performing in his Alien suit.
Further out-takes reveal unused effects shots, while Scott reveals the reasons behind his controversial decision to cut the cocoon scene (Suddenly the whole thing stopped). Its evident that the man is a genius: who can argue with a director who uses his own children, dressed in spacesuits, to double the lead actors and make the set look bigger. Inspired.
Review by David Richardson
Images © UIP / Ian Atkins