Ridley Scott’s Alien is a classic of the genre, and a huge inspiration on damn near every science fiction film that followed it. It’s a film that hits every single note it strives for, from a tight, nerve-wracking script, to a top-notch cast, to amazing visual effects and model work. It’s that last element that we’re most interested in today, as Alien visual effects miniatures artist Jon Sorensen has shared a bounty of incredible behind-the-scenes images from Scott’s film. You’ll want to find a bib, because these babies are going to make some of you drool.
In addition to Alien, Sorensen worked on other iconic Seventies and Eighties films such as The Empire Strikes Back, Outland, and Time Bandits. Sorensen posted some 80 images from Alien on his “Recollections of Alien” website, and they are simply amazing, especially in this era when CGI is often leaned on as a default crutch. As good as CGI has become, there’s just something visceral about an actual, practical model, and some of the best genre movies out these days use a combination of the two techniques to create a greater overall effect.
Sorensen shares his recollections about working on Alien over on the website, and also explains why he decided to share these images after all this time:
It is with great pleasure I introduce this website display transparencies I took whilst working on ALIEN (1979) and have carried around for over 34 years. The value of them is not only historical but also inspirational. The originals of these images are destined for the French Cinematheque in Paris. It seemed important to preserve them … nothing will ever replicate the experience we had on ALIEN, which remains a highly influential science fiction film whose fanbase just grows and grows with every passing year. A film which could only ever be done, for the first time, once. I would also like to dedicate this collection to my colleagues on the ALIEN miniatures unit, particularly to the memory of those who are no longer with us.
The collection of photos shows off everything from the Nostromo vessel itself, to the surface of LV-426, to the unmistakable crashed alien vessel, designed by the legendary H.R. Giger. What’s most striking about some of these things is realizing just how big some of the so-called “miniatures” were. Case in point, here’s the underside of one of the Nostromo models.
We’re including a selection from Sorensen’s gallery here, but be sure to click over to his website to see the rest, and read his explanations of each shot. And I really should have taken my own advice about the bib…