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Alien: The Archive-The Ultimate Guide to the Classic Movies Hardcover – October 28, 2014
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“Loaded front to end with insights and images that every genre fan would soak in with great delight.” - Project Fandom
"Contains many great behind the scene pictures and notes about the films” - Radio of Horror
“The visuals in this volume are absolutely amazing” - Bricks of the Dead
“A gorgeously rendered hardcover coffee table tome.” - Film Score Monthly Gift Guide
“The perfect book for that Alien fan in your life, especially if it’s you.” - Don’t Forget a Towel
"Just amazing stuff, and definitely a book that no Alien fan will want to miss." - Geek Dad
"Alien: The Archive is a winner" - Comics Online
"I couldn’t believe the amount of content inside, and a few surprises even popped out of the pages to shed light on various rumors and speculation. Lots of fun stuff here!" - Midroad Movie
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With the book in hand, I do see that there are duplication but it's perhaps unavoidable because it covers all the four films from the franchise. Duplication mainly comes the from the first film with some similar pictures and stories from Alien Vault being reused, just laid out differently. For me, it's not a major bummer because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Alien the Archive is presented as a huge 304-page hardcover published by Titan Books, who have also recently released another Alien-related book called The Art of Alien: Isolation, an awesome video game artbook by the way.
This is a visually driven book with the large pictures and supporting text. From cover to cover, it's filled with wonderful photographs and artworks that are gloriously reproduced on the huge pages.
The book starts off an interesting analysis of Sigourney Weaver's character Ellen Ripley before going into the specific films. It looks at the casting and at how Ripley had evolved in the Alien universe. It's a nice way to connect the films together using a common element.
Content for each film features the history and production process, the cast, designs for the environment, spaceships, and the alien, all in the at order.
The text overall is insightful and informative. However, history for each film is rather brief but this isn't a detailed production diary so it's not surprising. The other text comes in the form of interviews, captions and commentary explaining the designs, filming process and the work that is done. The paragraphs here and there plus snippets of text all add up to a huge amount of content to read.
The text reveals interesting details like how they construct the spaceships, art direction, the artists who are involved, difficulties on filming Alien 3, creating of sets and of course the alien, and the different aspects that each film faces.
The behind the scenes photographs are really great and fun to look at. You can see the actual models for spaceships and sets, alien suits, many of the alien props including the mechanical parts that control the movements, actors, the filming process and more. There are many new pictures that I've not seen before because I've not seen companion books for the second to fourth film.
The included artworks are fantastic. There are artworks from Chris Foss, Moebius, H.R. Giger and other artists. H.R. Giger contribution is the most significant with designs for the alien, its environment and other elements. You'll also see concept art and sketches for the spaceship interiors, vehicles, props, storyboards and physical models such as maquettes and miniatures.
This is a terrific companion to the Alien franchise. Highly recommended to the fans.
(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
I pre-ordered this book when it first became available on Amazon, and to be fair I wasn't quite sure what I'd expect when it arrived yesterday (one whole day ahead of schedule, thanks Amazon!) I envisioned some sort of basic visual reference book detailing all four films, using recycled pictures and art to sell copies. Needless to say my expectations were surpassed. I was beyond happy with my purchase; I was quite literally blown away from cover to cover, not just from the content, or the detail, but with how the book is presented.
This is a giant, heavy coffee table book, with a beautiful dust jacket: On the front, an early concept painting of H.R. Giger's revolutionary, eponymous Alien design. On the back, are four mini, glossy posters; one for each film, and the frosted, cream colored paper has a handsome text accompaniment. Underneath the jacket is a nice gold-colored cover with what appears to be one of Ridley Scott's storyboards for Alien. The book is divided into four main chapters, one for each film, and each chapter having a sub-chapter detailing a certain topic about the particular film. The bulk of the information contained inside the book is located in the first chapter, for Alien; arguably the most important film in the series. Each chapter thoroughly details the entire process for how each film was painstakingly created--every aspect of each film is considered, showcased, and explained in great detail in this book.
As far as new content goes, there are plenty of pictures in this book that I haven't seen before (and out of 20 years being alive, I have been an active Alien fan for at least 15 of those) but if you've spent your time researching the films, particularly the first, you'll know that good quality images of the creative process of the movies are few and far between, or private. This book is loaded with pictures, concept art, renders, models, costumes, sets, design studies, aesthetics, etc. I doubt much was left out of the 20th Century Fox archives while this book was being put together. There are some neat shots of James Remar, the original actor who played Hicks, in the book. Also featured are many abandoned concepts from the third film, some of which would be carried over to Resurrection, such as a swimming xenomorph. As expected, the concept art for the first two films took up the bulk of the chapters, featuring pieces from legendary artists such as Moebius, Chris Foss, Syd Mead, Ron Cobb, and of course, the late great H.R. Giger. Also included was artwork from the directors themselves, which surprised me. I'd seen some of Ridley's storyboards, but never seen any of Cameron's artwork-- suffice to say, he is a true artistic mind worthy of his merits.
Visually, this book is stunning. Page after page after page of beautiful artwork, behind the scenes pictures, and continuity stills from the set fill up this book. The book isn't just a visual spectacle, as the written portion of it is just as detailed. There are dozens and dozens of interviews quoted in the text. And from what I understand, a few of the interviews are new; recently collected by Mark Salisbury (who has strangely been removed from both the cover and the Amazon page as the author, only to be replaced with "Titan Books.") Every picture in the book has a caption that explains it in great detail and the reader can rest assured that the author did his homework.
This book did a great job at explaining and discussing the entire franchise, and all aspects of it, in detail, but didn't ramble or rant. Not much has to be said about the series, but this book said plenty, and did so wonderfully. I didn't find any of the text to be drawn out, incorrect, or featuring too much of the author's opinion one way or another (though I would assume that while reading this $35 boneyard of trees you would have at least some marginal interest or positive thoughts about the films) but it did focus greatly on a lot of the thematic elements, the emotion and the energy of each film; some of the metaphorical or mental aspects behind the films that you can't craft from physicality, but rather, create via physicality: the corridors of the Nostromo are cold and lifeless but very much worn; the passages on Fury 161 are equally cold and lifeless , but carry different emotions in them than the Nostromo did. Such comparisons are made in the book and the author digs deep into the treasure trove of resource material to bring these visions to life, or at least to print. One of the coolest pieces of trivia that I learned from my initial skimming of the book was that Steven Spielberg was originally tapped to direct Alien in 1978, but prior engagements prevented him from doing so. The book is dotted with plenty of interesting trivia, little-known facts, and a menagerie of visual/textual resources that allow this book to take an authoritative direction that doesn't veer into the realm of being too "preachy" or full of itself.
On a side note, I'm certain that this book will fall under scrutiny for being similar to Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film, which in itself was a solid title in my opinion, but lacked authoritative sources and much in the way of new material or information. It had some cool goodies like blueprints, stickers, and mini posters, but anybody who owned the Alien Anthology Blu-ray would have already had access to all the material in the book. That said, I hope people can lift the stigma and give this one a chance, as it focuses on all four films, not just the first.
All in all, while it certainly isn't perfect and there are no doubt things that the bean-counters might gripe about, this entire book represents an exceptional value for the price, and will provide fans of all status, casual to die-hard, many hours of entertainment value. No expense spared, and certainly worthy of its title, "The Ultimate Guide." I spent a couple hours skimming through it and reading certain sections, and there is still plenty to read and learn from this book. I imagine further reads would shed more light into even more information to indulge in.
Really hit this one out of the park, a virtually flawless presentation of the films.