The following insight has been gathered by DialM contributor Andrew Scott, as sourced from Ridley Scott’s 1999 ALIEN DVD commentary (which also is an added feature on the Blu Ray release).
1. SCREEN TITLE SEQUENCE
“For the title sequence I invited a very well known graphic designer, in fact, graphic designers, Steve Frankfurt and Richard Greenberg, to help me, where we were really only talking about the poster and presswork. But when I saw their proposal, I then asked them if they’d come in to actually get involved in the title sequences because I always felt title sequences, somehow, never echoed the artwork on the poster work. And my only brief to them was I kinda wanted a hieroglyphic that would come up at the beginning because I always wanted to infer or suggest that this alien could have been from a sophisticated society, obviously not comprehendible by us but I think the more sophisticated we made them the more frightening they would be.”
2. THE AWAKENING
“To be totally realistic I always wanted all the crew to be stark naked- of course they would be if they were lying in any form of hyper-sleep, they would be naked but for obvious reasons I couldn’t do that…and at one stage, the discussion, I said “The women may as well be topless because that’s what it is. I wanted to have a total sense of reality and rawness to this whole film because the realer and truer you get, then I think the scarier it gets later.”
3. THE EMBRYO OF PROMETHEUS
Years before making Prometheus, Scott had ideas about the history of the alien and their spacecraft.
“The theory, in my head was this was an aircraft carrier, a battle wagon, of a civilization and the eggs were a cargo which were essentially weapons. So like a large form of bacteriological stroke by mechanoid warfare.”
4. THE CINEMATOGRAPHY
Derek Vanlint was the man behind the camera, shooting Alien.
‘I believe until recently has never done another feature film. (Dial M: At the time of recording the commentary, he hadn’t. He did one film in 2000 called The Spreading Ground. It was a 21 year gap between feature films) Probably one of the best looking films I have done. Looking at it again it really hasn’t dated, which is a reflection of the designers’ and Derek’s work.’
5. THE CHEST BUSTING.
“After John [Hurt] hits his frenzy, his spasm, you cut in and then there’s an artificial chest screwed to the table, which was made in fiber glass with a hole in it, his shirt draped, tucked, stretched, tight over it, prepared, we raised the fabric then saturated it with blood so when the ram happened it would come through the shirt. And poor John is bent in a S-bend underneath the table with his head sticking out of this thing holding him to the table…So underneath Roger Dicken had to crush in there with John, with the little alien and it was physically just rounded through, physically, it was like a gun.”
Before they actually shot the “chestbuster scene” the cast never actually saw what was to come out of Kane’s chest. It was all done in one take with five cameras. When the “baby” alien escapes at the end, they used a little railway track across the table for it to move.
6. THE CAT
‘There was going to be a moment where Parker and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) rush in and witness the demise of Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) but it wasn’t used. Scott say they decided not used because “[S]omehow that seemed too normal. It was more elegant to leave him to die in a lonely fashion…the cat was the only witness.”
Yaphet Kotto (who plays Parker) didn’t want to be killed by the alien at the end of the movie. Scott had to convince Kotto on the day they were going to shoot his death scene to go through with it.
Ash’s (Ian Holm) speech about the indestructibility and perfection of the alien was re-written during production because they weren’t happy with the dialogue they had. They came up with the finished product on the day the scene was shot.