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Book Review: Aliens: The Set Photography By Simon Ward
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Aliens: The Set Photography Simon Ward Header

Aliens: The Set Photography
Hardcover
Written by Simon Ward
Titan Books
Release Date: August 9th, 2016

Most fans today know James Cameron as the director of the two biggest money makers of all time: Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009). But thirty years ago, he was a man with one major hit to his name, the 1984 classic The Terminator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cameron proved he could blend science fiction and action together in a way never quite seen before in movie history. So when he worked to bring a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterwork Alien, everyone was paying attention. Scott’s film was a gothic horror film in outer space featuring an unforgettable monster from the mind of H.R. Giger. Cameron’s film was vastly different, and thanks to the hard work of Simon Ward and the people at Titan Books, we can now step behind the scenes into the world of Aliens and celebrate he sequel’s 30 year birthday with Aliens: The Set Photography. The book features stunning photos, fun stories, and an introduction by Carrie Henn.

More below.

Henn, whose role as Newt was iconic despite it being her only acting role, recalled life on set at the famous Pinewood Studios about 20 miles from London, England. She recalls the actors playing the marines would all hang out together, Lance Henriksen (Bishop) was a loner in the movie and thus a loner on set, and she stayed with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) most of the time. Weaver’s iconic Ripley went from tenacious survivor in Alien to absolute badass in Aliens, a mother figure so protective that you feared for the queen alien at the end. “She acted like my mother on set and a lot of the interaction was very natural between the two of us,” Henn said. Weaver was front and center in many of the photos, as she was a big star after Ghostbusters (1984), so Cameron wanted her to sell the movie. The rest of the cast is featured throughout in many of the wonderful photos, including Michael Biehn (Hicks), Bill Paxton (Hudson), and Jenette Goldstein (Vasquez). A young, not yet “King of the World” Cameron features prominently of course.

The book, which serves as a coffee table centerpiece, displays 142 pages of beautiful imagery, which instantly transports you back to the film’s innovative sets, like the planet LV-426 and its weapons and creatures. A particularly interesting section of photos center around the xenomorph aliens themselves. Made with lighter material than in the original, we see them in pieces, miniatures and models, and the people who made them work. Done in the days before CGI, Aliens featured some groundbreaking special effects which went on to win two Oscars for Best Visual and Sound effects.

Aliens is one of the most celebrated films of all time, and the movie that established that James Cameron was not a one hit wonder. Aliens: The Set Photography will appeal to fans of the Alien franchise, and fans of the film industry in general. As gruesome and grotesque as some of the images from the film are, they are also perversely beautiful. This is a coffee table book with a bite.

Aliens: The Set Photography by Simon Ward, published by Titan Books, is available now on Amazon.

Book synopsis:

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of James Cameron’s groundbreaking science fiction classic comes the first, official record of the shoot. Through candid, high-quality stills we see the cast and crew at work, in costume, rehearsing, in make-up, and during filming. Some choice pieces of original concept art add greater context to the shoot and showcase the remarkable level of design. Also features insightful quotes from original interviews.

Aliens: The Set Photography Simon Ward

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