Recently, I ran across a video showing rare footage of HR Giger painting a prop of Brett in a cocoon. The description of the video made it sound gruesome in terms of the cocoon being more hideous. Turns out it was the same cocoon from HR Giger’s Alien book.
The post (which was one Facebook) went on to talk about how this version of the cocoon had been scrapped because they ended up wanting the scene to show the egg aspect since this cocoon would force the audience to infer a piece of the information not truly being supplied by the dialog.
That made a lot of sense to me just because the movie was rushing towards a finish so having extraneous dialog would break up the pace even further. But I think the picture demonstrates the strange dichotomy that has emerged in the thought process of the so-called eggmorphing mechanism.
And what I mean by that is that there’s been various posts on the web trying to reconcile the mechanics into some sort of canon, which I feel has been a failure. There’s some interesting interpretations of artists’ renditions of Brett slowly going from a cocoon stage towards an egg. It seems that those interpretations are attempting to take the base work from HR Giger and the Director’s cut and piece together some missing steps.
The problem I’ve had in the visuals and explanations is that nothing really ended up making much sense one way or another. I’ve already talked about the big leap in logic where the Director’s cut ends up showing not enough to really draw out a satisfying conclusion.
But the fact that HR Giger’s early versions got scrapped make me believe that he was being too artistic with too little to work with. I’ve read some of the descriptions and the napkin style illustrations he had to interpret and it’s worse than some of the product managers’ I’ve had to work with in giving me proper software specifications.
I feel that HR Giger was trying to use more of Dan O’Bannon’s descriptions for the cocoon in his earlier depictions. But in trying to make the cocoon feel more “alien” (as in his own artistic manner), it deviated far too much and didn’t look like anything besides some goop encasing a figure.
I imagine once Ridley Scott saw the result he was like, “What the fuck?” because audiences would not know what to make of what was going on without adding more dialog. Since the end goal was trying to show the complete lifecycle of the alien, Ridley probably demanded the cocoon part to be scrapped in favor of the near complete egg. Then a head would be inserted just so that Ripley could recognize the figure inside as Brett.
Unfortunately, this left people to wonder what was going on with Dallas. We can clearly see him bleeding from the neck and in certain cuts, you can see blood on his forehead (from what?) In those situations, based on the numerous ideas thrown at the wall, it would seem that Dallas had received the alien’s poisonous tail stinger in the neck, much like one of the edits where Brett received the same. That would explain the blood on the neck and probably paralysis as well as why he would want to die (probably massive pain and the alien having its way with him).
Still, outside of Dallas being glued to the wall in bad lighting, the audience can barely guess what’s going on. The cut to the open Brett egg makes me believe that Dallas already had a facehugger implant an embryo to start a new lifecycle. At this point, I’m utterly convinced of that as opposed to him becoming another egg.
And here’s where the original cocoon prop would have made a huge difference in my interpretation. The cocoon prop shows the near finished stage of a victim becoming an egg and one can infer based on that form that Dallas too could have been undergoing the same transformation.
However, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, I really believe by this point, Ridley Scott had a better vision of where this movie was going from a cohesive structure than what Dan O’Bannon might have been originally thinking. Remember that Dan O’Bannon never introduced the idea of the android Ash. That was inserted later on. Along with that the wonderful speech Ash gives on why he admired the alien as “the perfect organism.”
With this change in place, I think it sheds a huge new light on what could have been going on. For me, I like to think that there really isn’t a true eggmorphing process but something much simpler where the alien had already planted the egg and just used Brett’s fresh body as nutrients while it developed a newborn facehugger. Again based on the visuals we’re given, nothing else really makes sense.
Also, it explains why the alien went after Dallas and kept him alive. One thing I would say is that I am more skeptical that there was an available facehugger. I think there should have been evidence of one. In that case, the motivation for Dallas wishing death is more because of being paralyzed and violated by the alien.
Something a person on that Facebook post realized is that the image I originally posted lacked the massive hole that the alien had caused in Brett’s ruptured head. Another person replied in the thread that Brett’s death had been contested. In terms of cuts, there were at least 2-3 versions. Another 2-3 existed on paper with the alien ripping out his heart, the script having the original Brett figure’s head being torn off and the novel mentioning he was dragged into a shaft with the alien’s massive hands entwined around his throat/head.
What this shows is that there never was a real unified vision of what would happen to him. That made the cocoon and egg versions out-of-sync with what we were given. The cocoon version only seemed horrific because we could see the skeletal, bloody remnants of one of his hands plastered while the left side of his face seemed gouged (namely his eye and mouth).
For the longest time, I only knew about the classic image from his books. Fortunately, the Facebook video showed a different angle from the left side that gave a little more detail, even though it still was too dark.
It really sucks that the shadow blocks the majority of what’s going on with the left side of his face. But we can see the eyeball gouged out with a massive whole where the eye hole should be. The little amount of lighting hints that his mouth or left side of his cheek had been torn out. But what’s going on here?
I have two interpretations. The first interpretation is that HR Giger was attempting to model the airbrushed alien lair. In that image, there’s a picture of Brett cocooned. However, we see his skull exposed from the right side. So we never get a good look to see what happened to his left side.
I think Tom Skerrit might have even modeled for that picture so that HR Giger could render a prototype. Perhaps, he used that Brett cocoon prop in the picture but that the model was flipped in the picture. And I’m saying that one side has been reduced to a skeleton based on a quote Giger gave about the other artist who took a skull and an egg to produce a prototype that used his clay sausage technique.
There’s another image I remember seeing. I’m not 100% sure it was relevant to the Alien movie itself. But the image might’ve been from a comic or storyboard showing the alien using its tongue to pierce Brett’s eye straight through. It’s one of those “gruesome death” ideas I think the crew had been thinking about. I’m guessing it wouldn’t work well just because of how they could mechanically pull it off.
What’s weird in these images is that I think only certain aspects might have been reused for the alien egg product. There was another egg that HR Giger developed that seemed to incorporate the prototype with the head and the left leg portion of the cocoon.
So I’m wondering how much of either props were re-used in coming up with this scene. Like if you look close around the egg, it looks as though the cocoon form is partly preserved. My own interpretation of what that material is, is that it’s a resin used to hold the egg upright.
The head itself still has some of the shape and features used from the prop, including the hollowed out left eye section.
One thing to note is that the gaping hole had been sealed over from what it looks. But it’s a weird look because it’s not really shadows and that there’s the eye-like white ball mixed up in the goop. The longer shot of the Brett egg where Ripley sees him for the first time shows the eye drooping from the socket, leaving a small hole.
Of course, once we see a close up shot, the weird eye thing is back in place (great editing Ridley!!!!!) I can’t help but wonder what the hell was going on here. Did the alien just fuck around with the poor guy then stick his eye back in feeling sorry for what it did? I think that the eye drooping out was just another cheap horror tactic that the people had added to make the audience sick. But the editing is so bad that you can barely see it or you realize that something is very off in these shots.
One thing I will admit though is the last image I have up there is one of the few that actually is reasonably lit. But the color is terrible with the orange-gold effect. So there’s hints of blood around his forehead. But if you look really closely above his eye on the forehead area, you can see white markings. A close up reveals a bone-like structure (like teeth or teeth marks) So if the crew wanted to tie Brett’s ultimate death with the head gashing into this scene, then this image is the only one that brings it all together.
Either way, I’ve been pretty unhappy about the whole scene just because I can’t wrap my head around how the original cocoon scene would eventually turn into the last image. The egg shell part doesn’t make any sense. The cocoon that HR Giger intended is thick and kinda gooey whereas the egg while still thick has that hard, thinner shell. It makes me wonder if the alien is a fucking sculptor because damn son the finished product looks clean from all the weird thick goop that it originated from.
And that ultimately is why I really prefer to think the alien at this point had laid the egg. There’s just too many stupid questions and thoughts in trying to justify a complex biological process. I really don’t care for people making the excuse “well, this is an alien“. Well, fuck, might as well say the damn creature can cast spells too. You need some grounding and Dan O’Bannon’s script leaves too much of an open gap on the science aspect to make such an abstraction work. And quite honestly, I haven’t really seen anyone come up with a better rationalized view on how this works. All the existing theories just suck and don’t make sense in trying to combine everything out there into a unified idea.