Terry Gilliam is a filmmaker who has always moved to the beat of his own drum. His movies are very much that of an auteur, and that likely goes a long way in explaining why he’s made so few of them through his long and storied career. You’d never guess it, but there was a time that he was offered to jump on board a huge blockbuster in the form of Alien, as he revealed to RogerEbert.com.
“I got offered an Alien sequel because I was hot at that time, as a result of Time Bandits and Fisher King, and I just don’t want to do films like that. They are factory jobs, working for a studio. My last factory job was on the Chevrolet assembly plant in Los Angeles, during my junior year of college, night shift on the line. Never again.”
His perspective is understandable. While there are certain studios who allow the voice of their directors to flourish in spite of a big budget, at the end of the day, you are compromising aspects of your vision in order to make a film mainstream. It goes without saying that Gilliam has never really been mainstream with his films (at least, not outside of Monty Python).
But what does he think of Alien as a franchise? Is he still able to see the quality of the franchise’s first film?
“Alien is just a ghost train where something jumps out and you don’t know who’s going to die next. When I watched the first Alien, all I kept saying was, ‘Just kill them all and be done with it,’ because you just know that they’re all going to die along the way. In the end, Sigourney Weaver, who we’ve established is a really tough military officer, is running around in her underwear trying to find a cat. Give me a f—king break. There are some great moments in it, but the shot that should’ve never been in the film is the one at the end showing the alien getting blown out of the airlock. You see the alien, and it’s just a guy in a rubber suit. Up until then, you only saw bits of the alien, and it seemed to be huge and vast and terrifying. That was so clever. It was like the shark in Jaws. I told Ridley, ‘You don’t want that shot of the alien at the end. Cut it!’
Clearly, Ridley didn’t cut it. Years later, we’d come to see dozens of shots of the Xenomorphs in the sequel Aliens, for better or worse.
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