Dan O’Bannon – ALIEN scribe is dead. The World should definitely mourn the loss of one artist.
Until I started teaching myself about screenwriting, he was just a name on a poster. I mean I didn’t even really realise that people wrote screenplays; before I was first told that in order to make a film I needed a screenplay. I mean you just went to the cinema and the films just magically happen. Right? They all just show up on set and make it up as they go along. Right? At least that is what Hollywood often wants us to believe, with the cult of the Director and the purported talent of certain actors. God forbid, the stories are crafted by artisans…
I knew he had something to do with ALIEN and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, DARK STAR and LIFEFORCE but I had no clue as to what contribution he made, or how much of a difference he made; how significant was he?
And then one day I read the screenplay to ALIEN. For me it was a life changing experience. I can’t really describe it, but the economic, unflowery and effective prose really spoke to me. Again, I wasn’t sure who (of all of the people involved in that screenplay) really was responsible, but I took notice and I read a few more screenplays that he had a hand in. Each one, was its own piece of work, but each had a unique power and economy that really spoke to me, even if the end film didn’t really have the same effect. Inspired by that, by the power of his prose, I tore the hell out of two feature screenplays trying to cut each one down to its purest and most economic form. But they were pale imitations at best, when compared to this man’s work. It is something I find myself continually revisiting and constantly chasing – an elusive muse.
It will be a crime if others do not mourn his passing. I know I have lost an unofficial mentor. I will still revisit his scripts and chase a fraction of their power.