Alien is a science fiction classic. It introduced the world at large to a good number of incredible talents, like Sigourney Weaver, Ridley Scott, and H.R. Giger’s cavalcade of biomechanical boners with teeth.
But there is one creature from the film that hasn’t received a great deal of attention: the Space Jockey. However, thanks to Ridley Scott’s upcoming Prometheus, it’s about to become a lot more high profile.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term “Space Jockey” let me bring you up to speed. If you have seen the original Alien, he is the creature fused to a giant gun/telescope/penis thing found on the derelict ship by Tom Skerrit, Veronica Cartwright and John Hurt. He is also referred to by some as “the pilot.”
In the original movie, he did nothing more than be dead and give a hint to what was going to happen to at least one character later in the film (IE, explode). However, just like Star Wars with its crazy Expanded Universe, the Alien franchise has grown independent of the movie series, like a geeky fungus filled with extra apostrophes in names and back stories the original creators never dreamed of, not to mention some weird tidbits they did imagine and just left out of the film. So, after researching a lot of this mumbo jumbo, here are nine things we might know about the Space Jockey.
20th Century Fox, being the budget minded (AKA, “Cheap as hell”) people they are, didn’t want to spend any more than they had to on the sets of Alien, especially one that lasts a matter of minutes. They conceded to some of the money for the scene, but a certain amount of creativity had to be used while shooting, which in layman’s terms means they built a single wall for the set.
The entire set was hand-airbrushed by Giger, partially to save money, but mostly because he is/was dead set against anyone screwing with his art, and the only person he trusted to do it right was himself. The fact that the creature appears to be sitting on a chair built into a disc is not an accident; it was constructed that way so they could rotate the set and get different angles of the actors, all the while using the one wall Fox gave them the money for.
Imagine having to write an essay, but for budgetary reasons, removing the letters U and M from your keyboard. That is what Fox left them with, but luckily since science fiction movies are 90% bullshit anyway, an extra 1% never hurt anyone.
The ultimate cost-cutter for the scene, and the major part that sold the Jockey as some massive, elephantine alien creature was that Ridley Scott put his kids into scaled down space suits while filming. That way, they were able to squeeze some extra virtual feet out of the set and make the Jockey look like it would be 20 feet tall if he were standing.
Because no sci-fi franchise will ever be safe from its own fans, the success of Aliens lead to a comic-book series about them. The story eventually took the characters (originally Hicks and Newt, but later changed to Wilks and Billy because the movies… um… killed the original characters) to the alien home world where they run in to the Space Jockey, in this case, completely alive.
In this story, the living Jockey communicates with the humans! (Cool!) He’s telepathic! (Awesome!) He wants to help them kill the hated aliens (Sweet!) And then he and his boys are going to totally enslave the human race and turn their planet into a frozen hell-hole. (Supe- Wait, what?)
Yes, in the comic-book series, the Space Jockeys were tools that wanted the “aliens” gone, but only because they were like an acid-filled small pox screwing up their game of conquest. Kind of makes you like them better when they’re dead on the penis-cannon.
In 2005, yet another comic-book spin off was created, and this time, they decided that the Space Jockeys probably would have a different name, mostly because they probably, being aliens, had a different name for “space” and likely had no godamn clue what a “jockey” was. The name they came up with was “Mala’kak,” because ever since someone took the time to create a language for Klingons, alien words need to have at least one apostrophe to appear “genuine.”