Friday, June 2, 2017

What Are The Space Jockey & Derelict From ALIEN (1979) Non-Canon Answers

They call it the “Space Jockey” because like a horse jockey it wasn’t the “pilot” of the Derelict, it was the individual riding it. The ship itself was alive, and sentient to the degree that a horse is sentient. You did not pilot “her” like an airplane, you guided her like one would a horse with cues or gestures. You spur her on when you want her to go fast and pull back on the reigns when you want her to slow down. But you aren’t flying her, you’re riding her, and the engines are a natural propulsion system like the legs of a horse, only their method of producing motion works in the vacuum of space. The creature/ship evolved that way, and pretty much flies herself following the gestures of its Jockey.

The particular creature/ship that the crew of the Nostromo encounter had been used as a weapons platform by whatever species the Jockey was part of to fight whatever war they were apparently losing. Their home world was a biomechanical world, the life forms which populated it part living organism and part machine. Their tools of war were also biomechanical in nature and they utilized the creature/ships in the same way men utilized horses to further their wars. At some point during their shared evolution the Jockey and its ship would be fused together, one the extension of the other. 

Two living creatures physically fused together: The Jockey and its Ship.

Its function was to drop the alien egg spores into the atmospheres of target planets in whatever ageless war they were waging. The spores would use the local fauna to spawn a legion of hybrid creatures mutated by combing the host DNA with that of the spore creatures (FaceHugger) which would then attack the dominant species, eventually either absorbing or exterminating all other forms of life on the target planet. In theory one spore could be enough to wipe out an entire civilization. They were a doomsday weapon just as capable as annihilating the aggressor as their target.

For reasons unknown to us there was a problem with the cargo on the creature/ship found by the Nostromo crew. Or more accurately, the bomb bay holding the spores and usually quarantined from what would be considered the flight deck was breeched. A spore organism somehow got loose and the Jockey was infected. Realizing its imminent doom, the Jockey set course to purposefully crash the creature/ship into an out of the way solar body in a run-down part of the galaxy that nobody goes to anymore in a valiant but failed bid to contain its highly lethal payload.

The semi-sentient living ship landed itself after the Jockey had perished.

My narrative on what happens actually has the Jockey expiring before the planetfall. It’s intent was to destroy the creature/ship it was riding by flying it into the sun of the planetoid’s solar system, but after expiring the creature/ship landed itself more or less gently on the Planetoid visited by the Nostromo crew centuries later. And devoid of anyone to direct it back into orbit eventually either starved to death or passed away peacefully of old age after its internal systems had run down, becoming the Derelict found in ALIEN.

My reconstructed mission of the Nostromo away party on the surface of LV-421

Think of it as a single seater bomber craft which was alive and its rider having been surgically grafted to direct contact with its navigational controls. By the time the Nostromo crew discovered the remains they were long fossilized, but its cargo of weaponized biological replicating machines below dormant and ready to explode like a rusted old phosgene shell found in a farmer’s field outside of Verdun. All it took was one idiot with a climbing rig and another one dumb enough to be eager to lower themself into the Derelict’s hold and poke about. No wonder the Company chose the Nostromo to re-route.

Kane and Dallas, ALIEN's "Dumb" and "Dumber".

Please be advised that I’m just a painter from Syracuse and NONE of this is derived from ALIEN COVENANT or PROMETHEUS, neither which I have seen. I do not wish my memories of ALIEN sullied by the franchise-oriented retconning they rely upon to suggest another sequel. Greedo didn’t shoot first and I’m not interested in having ALIEN’s legacy messed with either, at least not in my mind’s eye, and you can’t unsee things.

More to come.

ALIEN (1979) Deleted/Unused Planetoid, Derelict, and Space Jockey Footage, June 2017 Update

Original Upload Notes:

Newly created composite of pretty much all the extant Planetoid, Derelict and Space Jockey footage from ALIEN I have at my disposal. Most of the footage seen here was taken from commonly available documentaries about how the film was made combined with sound elements sampled from the Theatrical Print. 

This update for June 2017 features *much* better HD picture quality, adds the “Cutscene” found on the 2003 SE DVD showing the away party entering the Derelict, introduces a few other shots I’d missed the first time through sampling from my source copies, re-works the audio with a somewhat richer “mix” (the synthesizer theme is from “Giger’s Alien”), and blends in a number of production still scans from my collection of ALIEN related media forms. 

Most of the clips are not “cut shots” but test footage, alternate angles, behind the scenes footage, and sequences which were never finished in post-production for the theatrical release. 99% of the footage showing the "finished movie" was also sourced from those documentaries cited: I avoided using the movie itself as much as possible, so this is not to be thought of as a reconstruction of the film.

 Be advised I took a bit of artistic liberty in looping/reversing/flipping a couple of favored sequences, including sound cues treated with effects filters -- Apologies to purists especially for getting Lambert "lost" there at the beginning ... Needed a way to explain why one person was wandering around alone & gave her the Last Word to make up for it.  Also please note that this compilation is **FAR** from definitive as I do not have access to the legendary workprint at this time. There is much more footage to find, and if you have any of it please drop me a line!

Finding the prior edit somewhat hollow I tried to complete a little story arc with this version by including the unused sequence of Ash helping bring in Kane’s stretcher, and the final shot of them blowing off Ripley while happily contaminating the ship & endangering all of human civilization. … And you know, it’s a good thing Dallas was OK with carrying that cumbersome looking climbing rig all the way there like a dumbass or the movie would have been over pretty quick. No wonder the Company picked his ship to re-route.


1) Giger’s Alien (1979, 20th Century Fox Japan VHS)
2) The Alien Legacy (1999, 20th Century Fox Alien Quadrilogy Collection)
3) The Beast Within: The Making of Alien (2003, 20th Century Fox SE DVD)
3) Bonus Content “Cutscene” from the 2003 SE DVD
4) About twenty seconds taken from the Theatrical Print found on the 2003 SE DVD, specifically Kane climbing up the Jockey platform wall & Ripley being blown off during the closing airlock scene.
5) Audio sampled from the Theatrical Print from that same source.
6) Scanned production stills from my collection of Alien-related media forms including some of the marvelous Alien trading card series by Topps.

(I believe there are other clips on certain Out of Print and/or overseas pressed sources which I’d love to track down. If anyone has more Planetoid scenes please give me a shout, we’ll trade up or something.)

This upload is part of a larger conceptual project exploring the influence ALIEN had upon my evolution as a visual artist. The footage will next be added to the relebat sequences from the Theatrical Print along with many other stills I have as an alternative method of “restoring” the Planetoid sequence without accessing a bootleg workprint (though my obsession with the film may see that happen yet) or using CGI generated video game footage. A projection of the “restored” video will then be used in a related art exhibit which may reproduce the Planetoid & Derelict on a smaller scale for viewers to experience for themselves. If we get the grant  :D  

NO INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. For artistic, historic, and demonstration purposes only. Please do not download this or any of my YouTube videos to distribute commercially, either via retail or private vending. They are shared here courtesy of Google for everyone to enjoy. Thank you!

If you like ALIEN and have not done so already *please* obtain your own legally purchased copy using the link to Amazon below or from your favorite movie outlet. It has not aged a day & remains a unique milestone in the development of our culture which shall likely never quite be equaled in our shared lifetimes. And if we keep buying it they may release more deleted or unused footage on subsequent pressings.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Planetoid Project: In Homage to ALIEN (Part One)

“My Little Alien Movie” by Steve Nyland. No blood or gore or scary monsters, and actually if you ask me the fun is over once they get back to the ship. There’s a Making Of video on the Planet stuff below & the story of how the did the scenes is pretty far out. I'm inspired enough after forty years to dare and contemplate making my own small version of it at my studio space in downtown Utica NY, and below is a short video outlining what I have in mind.

They filmed the Planetoid & Derelict scenes at Shepparton Studios in England which was then the largest soundstage in Europe, and literally made a desert planet surface inside of it at enormous expense, with sculpted attributes that echoed some of the forms later seen inside of the alien ship. Legend has it that the original “work print” assembly of the film invest almost an hour of time just on the planet surface, of which maybe twenty in all ended up in the final Theatrical Print. Then reduced even further in the Director’s Cut for pacing concerns & to make room for some of the more spectacular footage which fans had wanted to see. The Alien’s carnage is iconic, what took place on the planet, less so.

My lasting single image of the film will always be of the three space suited human explorers approaching the entry way to HR Giger’s very alien looking ship. That instant contrast between the familiar Apollo Program appearance of the humans juxtaposed against the giant gaping space vagina forms threw me for a loop as a twelve year old. And yes, I had a pretty good idea what the door shapes were based on. Sexual metaphors of a young guy about to enter puberty aside, what the image suggested to me was humans encountering or entering a truly “alien” environment where their normal human controls (radio contact, integrity of their space helmets, the fraying of Lambert’s nerves) would be neutered.

And so it stuck with me when images of the grown mature Alien creature biting people’s heads off became less impressive. The full grown Alien is to me an exercise in design right down to the selection of the artist for his signature creations specifically to give the film its “alien mystique”. It is ALL a massive celebration of art and design, including HR Giger’s Space Jockey creation which is the centerpiece of the whole Planetoid segment. People ask what is the Space Jockey? and I tell them it was a sculpture, the alien craft a gallery, and if they’d sensibly gone back to the ship after seeing it the movie would have been over.

The greatest sculpture ever made, and the only way to see it; 
In a space suit.

Instead they had to go poke down below decks through Kane’s bottomless pit. Good thing Dallas was willing to carry that climbing rig all the way there like a dumbass or the movie would have ended there as well. And what the heck, couldn’t they have rigged a shoulder strap for it? Poor SOB. Just by being willing to carry it Dallas strikes me as being woefully unfit for genuine command, and piloting a space tugboat likely the extent of his ability to do anything right. No wonder the Company chose the Nostromo as the ship to re-route.

Though ultimately the reason to have Kane go down the hole was budgetary: There wasn’t the money or time to have Giger design and build the entire flight deck of the Derelict, just enough to frame his Space Jockey shot. The Egg Silo into which Kane descends is the same set re-redressed with one hell of a badass matte painting blended over the sides of the shot. Kane’s willful idiocy aside, for me the main disappointment of the film has always been that we didn’t get to see Dallas and Lambert fish him out of his doom, presumably fashion their stretcher out of the climbing rig, and drag him back across the planet again without the benefit of lunch.

And by the way, propz to the guy(s) behind the “Everything Wrong With ALIEN in 11 Minutes or Less” for pointing out the glaring plot hole encountered when they do make it back to the airlock. The film sets up Ripley on the bridge as having some sort of master control on the airlock door but Ash pops it open with one push of a button after letting her play Captain for a while. Seems as though his ability to override her control on the bridge might be a liability in two departments: It gives a second person the option of breaking quarantine against protocol, and if she did have the only control what would they do in an emergency if there wasn’t anyone on the bridge to thumb the switch she allegedly had sole control over?

What good is great art if we aren't allowed to make fun of it.

So, the whole return airlock sequence is a contrivance and as such I completely bypassed her role in the matter. Dallas says “Let is in” and Ash obliges. After which my interest in the film takes second seat to those who prioritize the monster: I’m still back on the Planetoid ogling the Space Jockey. For the record I have not seen either PROMETHEUS or ALIEN COVENANT and a fellow devotee who has warned me off doing so lest I want my sense of awe & mystery about the subject sold down the river in a way that’s no better than having Greedo shoot first. No, I will stick with my creaky old 1979 ideas and pursue them as I have in regards to the other franchise films: They don’t matter. ALIEN is a standalone tale for my money, with James Cameron’s ALIENS having some usefulness in giving Ripley’s story more focus. Other than that I’m not interested and gave up on the series before ALIEN3 was even over first time watching it. Enough already.

Speaking of WTF, WTF??

More to follow. Much, much more, and if anyone has any thoughts feel welcome to email me