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Alien: Covenant Set Visit – Director Ridley Scott Doesn’t Think Of Alien As A Horror Film

Written by Fernando Esquivel

LRM Online was allowed to visit Fox Studios Australia this past June where Ridely Scott was filming his latest chapter in the Alien series, Alien: Covenant. With limited time we were able to catch up with him while he was in between takes. Guided into a dimly lit stage we came across a massive set which consist of large heads which look like they are carved from stone. These large heads are know as the engineers or the elders that once had a civilization on this planet. Here is what he had to say about his latest film.

What’s with all the heads?

Ridley Scott: If you ask me they were a people who were superior. These were probably the ten apostles, the wise men. 

We hear you’re going back to horror with this film?

Scott: Well, yeah. Alien was kind of a posh horror film. I never think of it as a horror film, it just scared the shit out of people. I think it had too much class to be classified as a horror film. Nothing wrong with horror, but I think horror is what is real tension, what is real fear. It’s very hard to scare people. In the bloody films you see, which ironically are not even frightening, they’re just like, “yikes!” So I thought I’d try to come back and do one. The trick is I think Alien way back when ran its course. Then I thought with that special kind of creature it shouldn’t really run its course. It shouldn’t have really ended, so we’ve come back with a very simple idea, which is who made them? No one ever asked that question. Ours was just about there it is, it exists, and this is what it is. Seven guys and gals in a steel hull, frankly the very old idea of “The Old Dark House.” Who’s gonna die next? The fundamental basis of Alien was a pretty old B-movie, but because of the cast and talent involved it came out an A+ movie. So we’ve reinvented the idea of Alien, I think, which is that Covenant gets us a step closer to who and why was this thing designed to make human beings. And if you think it’s them you’re dead wrong.

In that last film you had a Christian protagonist you have Jews, atheists and a whole assortment but you’re still playing with the idea of religion. 

Ridley Scott: Religion is always interesting because at the end of the line we all ask the same question whether you’re agnostic, heathen, or whatever you are concerned about you’re end, and if you’re not you’re a liar. In fact the Egyptians were obsessed with afterlife and not present life, so they built a whole culture around the afterlife, which I think is very interesting. I’m kind of agnostic. Not in the sense that I neither believe nor do not believe in God, but I think there’s an alternative thought, an idea to a superior entity, because we can’t just be it. That’s entirely ridiculous. Are we one of many? Of course we are. We are one of many many variations on what we are right now, and now NASA conceded that, they didn’t thirty years ago. Now they say it’s entirely feasible. So I’d like to open that door.

Why did you decide to introduce an android who looks just like David?

Ridley Scott: How many Mercedes Benz are there? (laugh) You get a great android it’s good business. Roy Batty, if he hadn’t died they’d have probably made a lot of Roy Batty’s. 

Having had the experience making “The Martian” after “Prometheus” and then going to this film, I’m wondering how you’re perspective on science fiction has changed? 

Not a lot, because I’ve always tried to keep it very real, as real as possible. Star Wars knocked my socks off, the very first Star Wars I thought was seminal. It’s a fairy story. Alien, I thought was a more reality-based story. Blade Runner stepped into the area of urban future, and I think pretty accurate actually. We got all these beautiful buildings going up that are all glass and spectacular, and one wonders what they’re gonna look like in 30 years time. The Martian was wonderful working with NASA and JPL because they were very helpful and were all science fiction buffs so they love Alien and Blade Runner. So when I started talking to them I got immediate help and advice. They showed me pictures, “We’re gonna be doing this, we’re gonna be doing that.” So we swapped notes a lot. It was a nice experience. 

Alien: Covenant is in theaters May 19, 2017.

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