Tag Archives: the Company

The Android

Inhuman. Immoral. Infiltrator.

Inhuman. Immoral. Infiltrator.

Ash was a late addition to Alien, first coming into the script when producers David Giler and Walter Hill were continuously rewriting Dan O’Bannon’s screenplay. Hill attributed his creation to one of Giler’s jokes. “He’s got a marvellous capacity for coming up with the unexpected,” Hill said, “a u-turn that’s novel but at the same time underlines what you’re trying to do. A lot of the time he’ll present it as a joke, and it’ll turn out to be a great idea. Like in Alien, when the Ian Holm character was revealed to be a droid – that was David.”

From the way the two describe the concept of Ash’s beheading scene, it seems as though the character originally began as a human. “Walter Hill and I were writing the script,” Giler told Fantastic Films, “and we had invented the subplot of this dodging character. And Hill said, ‘I have what I think is a dreadful idea, or a really good one. What do you think of this? Suppose, in this part, whack! his head comes off and he’s a robot?’”

The revelation that Ash was a robot would, the producers hoped, give the movie another story-defining shock in the wake of the chestburster. Giler also came up with one more gag: “And we’ll put [Ash] on a table and then we’ll have the head talk.” Hill agreed, and “We went back and made the subplot work for that. Actually at one time I wanted the first words from the robot on the table to be the Kipling poem, ‘If you could keep your head all about you…’”

Notice here that first, Ash began as a ‘dodging character’; essentially an underhanded nuisance (consider it a proto-Burke, if you can). When it comes to dispatching the character the producers come up with the idea of him being a robot, and so they rewrite the script to accommodate this new idea. Interestingly, Giler attributes the android idea to Walter, and vice versa.

“What I liked was the low-key cadence of the characters, which I always wanted to keep it real, and the people real, with normal behavioural patterns, not a movie character. That’s why Ash is particularly interesting, because you don’t really know if there’s anything special going on about him other than the fact he seems to be a bit of a stickler for process and he might be ruthless. You just don’t know whether he’s evil or not. But obviously he’s got some kind of itinerary going on, with his fascination of everything attached to this new discovery of the Alien…”
~ Ridley Scott, Alien commentary, 2003

In addition to that, Ridley seemed to confirm that Ash’s (in)humanity was in the air from the beginning; at one point, he could have been an alien himself. “We could have had a Martian in the crew,” Ridley explained. “He’s not much different [from the other crew], perhaps just slightly waxy skin and two small holes in his head. Biological changes rather than mechanical ones.” However Ridley found his alien-Ash idea quickly nixed: “I was, to a certain extent, held down by my producers. They didn’t know me from Adam, so they tried to keep things in balance. Alone I would have done more.”

Having said that, Ridley did concede that having a Martian standing out so conspicuously would draw viewers out of the film. “If you have a Martian in there, the audience is going to be staring at him. Not only that, but we could then have been directly compared to Star Wars or Star Trek.”

In the script Dallas was less passive in regards to Ash and confronted him concerning the chestburster within Kane. This scene was not filmed but made its way into the comic book adaptation.

In the script Dallas was less passive in regards to Ash and confronted him concerning the chestburster within Kane. This scene was not filmed but made its way into the comic book adaptation.

The android twist was met with disdain by O’Bannon and alleged skepticism from Twentieth Century Fox, but Ron Shusett stuck up for the idea. “While we were at [Fox], Giler and Hill, who were my co-producers, came up with this idea and wrote it into the script,” Shusett explained. “Everybody hated it but me. The studio was afraid of it. Dan said, ‘I don’t like it.’ Their own partner [Gordon Carroll] said, ‘It’ll be a mish-mosh.’ I said, ‘Let’s film it and preview it.’”

“I thought it was a brilliant concept,” he continues, “and it gave a resonance to everything that came before, because you think back to when Ash opened the door and let the creature on board, you realize he wasn’t human, so of course he could have the lacking of humanity to sacrifice all the humans as long as he saved the Alien. That gave [the movie] an underbelly that helped it last through the years. When we filmed it, we weren’t sure it would work. We tried it on an audience, an invited audience. That was the only way that everybody said, ‘Oh, you need that.’ …  I saw it at a preview in Dallas: when that robot’s head came off, an usher actually fainted!”

“There was no Ash in my original script,” said O’Bannon, “they added that. The idea being here that all scripts must have a subplot, simply to have a single plot by itself is inadequate, all stories must have subplots, so they created a subplot. Ian Holm gives a brilliant performance, it’s brilliantly directed by Ridley, but if you stop and think about it, if it wasn’t in there what difference would it make one way or the other, I mean, who gives a rat’s ass, I mean so somebody is a robot?”

“It annoyed me when they did it,” he continued, “because it was what I called ‘The Russian Spy’. It was a tendency in certain types of thrillers, when people are on an interesting mission, to stick in a Russian spy. One of them is a spy and they don’t know which one, he’s trying to screw up the mission, Fantastic Voyage had that. When I saw Fantastic Voyage, I thought it annoying … instead of it adding any genuine suspense, all it did was annoy me … It’s a tension device which is commonly resorted to and doesn’t work because it doesn’t provide any real suspense. It doesn’t do anything except provide finger exercise for the writer who thinks that all stories must have subplots. So, I think its an inferior idea of inferior minds: well acted, well directed, and fortunately it occupies little enough screen time that it doesn’t disrupt the main plot.”

Ridley himself disagreed, saying years later: “This is a great turnabout in the story because just when you think your main and only aggressor is this thing loose on the ship, you’ve now got a much bigger problem – you’ve got two aggressors, which raises the paranoia and that of the audience twofold.”

Mu-th-r: as for Ash’s ‘accomplice’, the Nostromo’s computer, Ridley explained the naming process as thus: “Kubrick had already found a great name for his computer, which was called HAL. I couldn’t think of anything to say but Mum, or Mother.”

But why would the Company place an android on their ships and keep its identity a secret? According to Ridley, they are insistent “on placing a company man on each vehicle. In this vehicle, he takes the form of a robot, Ash. This would seem to be the normal development of a huge corporation trying to protect its interests. In this particular future, it would be very easy for “pirating” to exist. Corporations will have to find ways to assure that vehicles carrying minerals or vital information will not be hijacked.”

He elaborated on the idea of robots and corporations within the wider, but unseen, Alien universe, saying: “[T]he world has been converted into the property of two or three large conglomerates whose sources of energy are provided by the exploitation of deposits in space. The super cargo spaceships that link Earth and the planets would transport enormous loads of minerals: gas, oil and the like. To dissuade the crews from rebelling and to protect their own interests, these companies might place spies aboard, or at least would make the crews believe in the presence of such spies. Gradually a legend would evolve that these people, whose identities remain unknown, are in fact robots. Furthermore, nobody would ever have proof. This would reinforce legends already currently among the astronauts.”

Ash was placed deliberately on the Nostromo so the Company could successfully investigate a beacon emanating from a mysterious, far-out planetoid. However, Ridley has repeatedly shot down the suggestion that the Company was aware of the Alien payload: “I think any corporation that sends probes into unknown territory is going to think of the possibility of finding something new,” he said. “I’m sure that the crew members on all its ships would have been briefed to bring back anything of interest. It would be part of one’s job to bring it back. An alien, of course, would be of top priority. This particular corporation didn’t have a preconceived notion that an alien would be found on this mission, much less the particular Alien that is brought onto the ship. The idea of bringing it back alive would not have been on the minds of the corporate executives when they first received the alien transmission. They just had high expectations when they ordered the Nostromo to investigate – it was purely out of curiosity.”

This of course also explains Weyland-Yutani’s lack of action regarding the derelict and the eggs following the events of Alien. Ridley added: “I would have thought that Earth would have previously received messages [from space], realised they were coming from an intelligent source but, for economy reasons, perhaps have postponed the preparation of an investigatory spacecraft. Then, one day, Nostromo is in the vicinity and the order is given for the crew to bring back the Alien, good or evil, without any real thought being given to the consequences. The presence of the robot virtually guarantees, in principle, the success of the mission.

Alien/Android Antagonism: The Alien quickly proves to be hostile, but does Ash have any reason to fear it? “We theorised that the Alien would feel or understand that Ash was a construction of robotics, however complex and strange,” Scott told Omni’s Screen Flights in 1984. “Because Ash wasn’t human, he’d have been no use as a host for its eggs.”

The two also share a sort of kinship beyond Ash’s worship of the creature, according to Scott. Ash is also a biomechanoid, albeit of human manufacture. He is an alien with a human face.

Ash succeeds in obtaining a specimen, though it runs amok through the ship, killing the crew one-by-one. Ash’s own death comes due to his inability to maintain his ruse. “If you create a model as perfect as that,” said Ridley, “it will have, almost of necessity, a form of ’emotional life’.”

Ash was programmed with a human ‘back-story’, though he was well aware of his artificial nature: “That was a consideration I had to deal with,” Ridley told fantastic Films. “There are a number of ways of approaching it, but the possibilities come down to either letting him know or programming him so he thinks he’s human. All the space in between was open, but we went with letting him know. If we had decided to keep it from him, there were all kinds of things we could have done, from programming him to know at a certain point, like an emergency, or even putting a complete memory tape in him that would give him a complete background – parents, schooling, brothers, the whole thing.”

normal_productionstill99_083

“This scene is peculiar because you wonder how Ash got in behind her … [Ripley’s] not going to get any more information [from him], and she’s dipping into Company records and is not going to get the right answer …  I liked Ash reacting to human emotion … he wasn’t frightened of her, he was backing off, he didn’t understand why she was crying, probably because he had never seen that before, so you got that rather peculiar reaction from Ash as she shrinks away…”

'Now what was interesting here, I liked Ash reacting to human emotion ... he wasn't frightened of her, he was backing off, he didn't understand why she was crying, probably because he had never seen that before, so you got that rather peculiar reaction from Ash as she shrinks away ... Now we have malevolence, which is even stranger by just adding one simple thing which just came out in the day - he's beginning to perspire, and this perspiration is white.' Ridley Scott, Alien commentary, 1999.

‘”Now we have malevolence, which is even stranger by just adding one simple thing which just came out in the day – he’s beginning to perspire, and this perspiration is white … I guess this [attack] is the closest thing to seeing a robot have sex, huh. I needed to have some show of strength which was simple but violent.”
~ Ridley Scott, Alien commentary, 1999.

Ash’s awareness of this duality (among other factors) may have contributed to his ‘breakdown’, as Scott explained that his complexity made him more than an automaton:

“You don’t have only a physical and mental mechanism, but a machine that is capable at any moment of uncontrollable emotional reactions and which will take certain decisions by itself. Like HAL in 2001. Here, no one has considered that in building a robot, it had been given a psychological life, with worries and problems. This perfect machine starts to have feelings when faced with the behaviour of humans. It starts to be interested in the women and to have desires that cannot be expressed. Behind the assault on Ripley is an attempt to solve these tensions, a sort of rape…”

Untitled

Excised dialogue explaining Ash’s ‘motivation’.

Android apartheid? In 1987 Lance Henriksen commented on what he perceived would be an android’s inner turmoil, and they are interesting comments in light of the series’ entire range of androids, Ash included: “I read a couple of books. One was Mockingbird [by Walter Tevis]. There’s a bit in it where the android knew how to play a piano, but didn’t know why. He didn’t know what music was, but he kept hearing it. It was part of his builder’s input that hadn’t been completely erased. That image stuck in my mind, and what it translated to me was that there were feelings that Bishop didn’t understand.”

Additionally, Henriksen reckoned Bishop and his ilk were aware of their lowly statuses as ‘un-humans’; this would understandably create friction, possibly like the type of breakdown we see with Ash: “For him, the world is xenophobic,” Lance said, “He’s an alien to anything alive.” The androids are an entire race created to serve. In a sense, they are a slave race: “You’re either replaced or you’re destroyed,” mused Henriksen. Perhaps Bishop’s line that Ash’s model of android was always “twitchy” has more sinister connotations; perhaps each model was systematically ‘junked’ sometime between Alien and Aliens. For the newer, more obedient Bishop-era android, maybe asking to be called an ‘artificial person’ rather than a robot is a plea for respect that is normally not given to these belittled mechanised beings.

One last thought: we know that Prometheus’ David was mass-produced, and Bishop-types have flooded the expanded universe, but would this make sense if machines like Ash are meant to be infiltrators and spies? We can only theoreticise that each Ash-type was uniquely designed in order to fulfill its objective. After such models proved to be undesirably emotional, or “twitchy”, new android lines once again had their individualities taken away from them, from their physical appearances and even down to their programming.

Ash ends his life, like Kane, on a canteen table – ironic considering that it was Ash’s malfeasance that allowed the Alien to grow undetected. In return, he is decapitated by Parker, decommissioned by Lambert, disconnected by Ripley, and then finally immolated.

"A lot of this stuff we had to make up on the day. So we couldn't work out how to kill Ash. So we used one of those cattle prods and also left his interior to really be an organic choice, rather than having steel pipes and things like that [as innards] ... I loved the glass marbles on the strands and the teeny bits of fibre-optics, and of course his blood ... we worked forever trying to find what would be the voice of a dying robot. It's almost a doppler effect. Spooky." ~ Ridley Scott, Alien commentary, 1999.

“A lot of this stuff we had to make up on the day. So we couldn’t work out how to kill Ash. So we used one of those cattle prods and also left his interior to really be an organic choice, rather than having steel pipes and things like that [as innards] … I loved the glass marbles on the strands and the teeny bits of fibre-optics, and of course his blood … we worked forever trying to find what would be the voice of a dying robot. It’s almost a doppler effect. Spooky.”
~ Ridley Scott, Alien commentary, 1999.

“There’s so much you do which you keep really simple,” Scott said of the disconnection scene. “You know, the head on the table could have gone crazy with all kinds of stuff underneath it, but [it] was a very simple thing. We just had the mask, finished it, checked the rushes, went back, and incinerated it. That was it, one shot. Today that would cost a million dollars. I think it probably cost about two hundred quid.”

“Of its genre, I think that [Alien] has become a classic, so people still send me photographs to sign. John Hurt, as you know, had an even more famous scene where an Alien pops out of his stomach. I remember some of the Americans coming up to him the day before [filming] and saying, ‘Hey, John, it’s the big scene tomorrow. Do you have ideas how you’re going to approach this whole thing?’ John looked at me and winked and said, ‘I don’t know really. [Deep sigh] I suppose… I’ll just… bring my not inconsiderable imagination to bear… and just… do it!’ I think that’s in a nutshell what I do. I just do it.’
~ Ian Holm.

Before he goes Ash delivers one of the series’ most famous monologues, which was written by David Giler on the morning of the shoot. The earlier scripts featured a less poetic turn, with Ash soliloquising like a Bond villain in some iterations and having no final dialogue at all in others.

“This was a really doomy speech,” said Scott, “about the indestructibility and the perfection of what they were up against [with the Alien], and this was a scene written during photography because we never were really happy about the dialogue we had, and I think that Dave [Giler] really had to work on this incessantly as we headed towards the actual day. I think we actually came up with the words that morning, or David did.”

According to Veronica Cartwright, two versions of the scene were shot: the first was as originally scripted (a lot of explanatory plot talk) and the second featured the dialogue as we know it. Only Holm’s scenes were reshot, with the crew’s reactions carried over from the first shoot. “The original scene had more grapey things and stuff [around Ash],” claimed Cartwright. “I talked to Ian later, he said they went back and reshot with more tubey looking odds and ends, and they also changed the dialogue … Originally, this is where [Ash] brought up ‘has anybody tried to communicate with [the Alien]?’ and we were all standing around,  listening to him … So here we are, we were all sitting there with bated breath listening to Ian, he’s got his head in the middle of the table, you know with grapes and all sorts of stuff hanging off his head, [but] what you see is Ian months later [when they] redid it.”

The reshooting, if it happened at all, was unlikely to be months later: it was perhaps only days or weeks at the most, considering the film’s limited budget and schedule – it may have even been shot later on that first day. Ridley usually refers to the scene as having been shot very quickly, with the burning of Ash’s body being done only in one take.

“I loved his ideas,” Cartwright said of Holms’ performance. “He had this twitch, which you don’t get to see very much. He starts out fine, but as he starts to get [on] this left eye would twitch all the time as he starts to break down.”

Still, despite all, Dan O’Bannon remained adamant that Ash was a detraction for the film. “The whole point of Alien, according to Walter Hill, is that evil corporations created this situation; this crew wouldn’t even be in this desperate situation in the first place if the evil corporation hadn’t sought out this organism and decided to use it as a weapon, and stuck a robot on board to deceive the crew and get them trapped in this situation where this alien organism can do its worst and show that it would be very good for the corporation’s weapon systems. As far as Walter Hill is concerned, that’s what the movie is about.”

Ash's 'death mask'.

Ash’s ‘death mask’.

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Peter Weyland

Concept of the sickly, slumbering Weyland.

Weyland is a name uttered numerously throughout the Alien series. Until Prometheus, the name has been anonymous, faceless. When we are introduced to the Nostromo and its crew in 2122, Weyland is less of a man, and rather one part of an empire that is only ever referred to metonymically: it is “the Company,” an organisation stretching throughout space; terraforming worlds, financing colonies, paving trade routes, hauling ore – it is large, hungry, paranoid, impersonal, all-consuming and ever-expanding. And it all began with one man, born in Mumbai, India, at the closing of the 20th century…

Prodigious, driven, vainglorious, stentorian and elegant in manner, Weyland is the vanguard of technological progression in the 21st century – and hopes to play the same important role into the 22nd. “He’s the billionaire megalomaniac,” said Guy Pearce of his character. “He’s a man who thinks outside of the square; a lot of people do that in life, but a lot of people don’t have the facility or the finance to actually be able to act on that.”

“He’s somebody who is financing these missions,” Pearce also told Collider in 2012, “and is also somebody who has a vision of humanity and the world and technology.” For the role, Ridley “referenced Rupert Murdock,” according to Pearce, “really not as a personality, but more just as somebody who has an empire, really. Even [Richard] Branson he referenced and obviously Branson is a totally different personality. So as I say, not a personality reference, but really just these kind of guys who have built and built and it just sort of seems endless, and really I mean when you think about it Peter Weyland is far beyond what those two guys are combined at this stage, [he’s] a multi-trillionaire.”

Ridley’s sketch of Weyland. “Rutger or Max,” it reads. Rutger Hauer and Max von Sydow were originally considered for the role. In another nod to Rutger, one of Weyland’s security personel was to be named Batty, after Roy of Blade Runner fame.

Weyland was present in Jon Spaiht’s initial drafts, but only featured in the film’s beginning. Shaw (named Watts) and Holloway travelled to meet Weyland aboard an orbital colony to propose the Prometheus mission. In a later draft, they visit him at his offices on Mars, which is undergoing terraforming. In Weyland’s place aboard the Prometheus ship (the Magellan, in earlier drafts) is a hidden squad of Company soldiers. When Damon Lindelof came aboard Weyland took a more prominent role; seeking immortality by finding and appealing to the gods.

Peter vs. Charles: [Ridley] wanted to use Weyland as a conduit in the story,” explained Damon Lindelof, “and was not at all interested when I said, ‘You know, Weyland was a character in one of the Alien vs. Predator movies.’ He just sort of looked at me like I had just slapped him in the face. That was the beginning, middle, and end of all Alien vs. Predator references in our story process.”

Lindelof also made other changes to Weyland, and temporarily changed his forename to Arthur – an alteration that obviously did not stick.

Having to don prosthetics to play the aged Weyland, Pearce also commented, “I did think, ‘Why didn’t he just cast Ian McKellan?'”

“I was so happy to get him [Pearce],” said Ridley, “the guy can play anything, and why not have [him play] a seriously intelligent genius, a man who’s kind of a combination of Eddison, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?” Ridley further explained that having the young Guy Pearce play the old Peter Weyland would give the character a youthful, hungry energy.

Pearce continued: “The difficult thing about playing someone who is a lot older than yourself is that people know how old I am, they know what I look like, so there’s always gonna be scrutiny anyway … It was important for [Ridley] to find someone who had a kind of youthful quality, I suppose.”

Originally, it was planned to see both a young and old Weyland in the film. Young Weyland would appear in one of older Weyland’s cryo-dreams – where his consciousness resides during the trip. Pearce explained the excised sequence: “David comes to see me at one point basically to say, ‘we’re nearly there, but not quite yet, sir.’ And I basically say to him, ‘well, don’t wake me up until we’re ready to go, until you’ve discovered what it is I want you to discover.’ And so we find Weyland living in this fantasy world of being on a yacht in this fabulous kind of, perhaps Caribbean or tropical setting, with lovely, luscious women around him, all tanned and looking fabulous, and basically just sort of re-living the life that he would if he could,” (in the pre-viz artwork, young Weyland is depicted as a young Kirk Douglas.)

Here is the scene as scripted by Damon Lindelof:

EXT. PASTORAL BEACH – DAY

A WHITE SKY — BLINDINGLY SO. TILTING DOWN TO FIND — WATER. AZURE BLUE. Striking. WAVE roll gently onto the beach as A PAIR OF WORK BOOTS splash through the surf. It’s DAVID. In his jumpsuit and SUNGLASSES. Wait… WHERE the hell are we right now? But now our attention goes to a SOUND — A REVVING MOTOR. David looks out at the water as — A WAVERUNNER zips across the ocean — BLASTING TOWARDS THE SHORE — CUTS to a SUDDEN STOP revealing its DRIVER —

A STUNNING WOMAN IN AN EQUALLY STUNNING BIKINI. She smiles at David, everything about her just oozes SEX —

BIKINI: Hi.

DAVID: Hello.

BIKINI: You here to see him?

“Him?” Him WHO? What the hell IS this? But David nods —

DAVID: I am.

A seductive grin as the woman nods to behind her —

BIKINI: Then hop on.

David nods, splashing knee deep into the water as we CUT TO:

EXT. AZURE SEA – DAY – MOVING

The waverunner JAMS across the water. A surreal sight — David in his jumpsuit. Arms wrapped around the glorious bare midriff of the WOMAN. DROPPING BEHIND them to FIND –They’re approaching a MAGNIFICENT YACHT. And we CUT TO:

EXT. YACHT – DAY

David CLIMBS up a ladder, steps onto the DECK of the Yacht. Walks along it until he reaches — A CABANA. FIVE BEAUTIFUL (and scantily clad) WOMEN, all but feeding grapes to — A HANDSOME MAN. Virile. Mid-Thirties. Oddly FAMILIAR. He looks over as David approaches. SIGHS theatrically —

HANDSOME MAN: And so the dream comes to an end.

And while we’re not exactly sure what this man is TALKING about, David sure does. He SMILES —

DAVID: Hello, Mr. Weyland.

Oh. THAT’S why he’s so familiar. This is OLD MAN WEYLAND…. except he’s about sixty years YOUNGER. HOW that is, we’ll figure out later, but for now —

WEYLAND: I gather you’ve come to take me back?

DAVID: (pauses; then)No, sir. Not yet.

Beat. DISAPPOINTMENT in Weyland’s eyes —

WEYLAND: Then why are you here, David?

DAVID: I’m here to tell you that things haven’t exactly turned out the way we hoped, sir.

Weyland absorbs that. Just looks at David. This is a man who gets what he wants. Always. ANGER now —

WEYLAND: You were instructed not to disturb me unless you had what I came for, you useless shit.

David hesitates. Did the insult actually AFFECT him? NAH… he’s just a robot. Right?

DAVID: What you came for isn’t here, Mr. Weyland. At least not in the way you had hoped. So I’ve been forced to… (how to put this?) Experiment.

And JESUS. We can’t help but think David just may be talking about HOLLOWAY. Weyland smiles at his man-made son like a proud FATHER —

WEYLAND: That’s what I love about you, David… Never say die.

Now Weyland steps forward, puts his hand on David’s shoulder. Not without affection. We finally see the OLD SOUL in this young body… and it seems SCARED.

WEYLAND: Once I leave this place, I won’t have much time. (beat; measured.) Don’t come back here until you’ve found what I need.

 

“We are the gods now.”

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Weyland Industries Timeline

A TRADITION OF INNOVATION
From Peter Weyland’s first commercially viable cybernetic android to the invention of the atmospheric processor, Weyland Industries has continued to innovate and works towards the realisation of a better world. Over the years, our unique solutions, including a myriad of firsts, have served customers, communities and governments across the globe and helped address many of the universe’s most challenging problems.

OCTOBER 1ST, 1990 – A MAVERICK IS BORN
Peter Weyland is born in Mumbai, India to an Oxford-educated Professor of Comparative Mythology and a self-taught engineer.
(Notes: Weyland’s parentage highlights his upper class background, as well as a childhood steeped in mythology, such as the stories of the Olympians and Prometheus. His parents seem erudite, capable, and worldly. Weyland’s father is self-taught, and his talent seems to rub off on the young Peter.)

OCTOBER 1ST, 2004 – PETER WEYLAND TURNS 14
Days after his 14th birthday, Peter Weyland is granted a Method Patent for a synthetic trachea constructed entirely of synthetically-engineered stem cells. It is his 12th registered patent to date.
(Notes: Weyland’s intellectual and engineering gifts are established at a young age. Real life parallels include the nuclear scientist, Taylor Wilson – born in 1994. At 14 he became the world’s youngest person to have built a working fusor. Wilson hosted a TED Talk presentation on his work, which you can see here.)

MARCH 27TH, 2015 – A TRULY RENEWABLE ENERGY

Weyland Industries launches first industrialised space mission to install solar panels that align and move in Earth’s orbital plane but at an axial tilt, imitating a permanent summer solstice. The renewable energy gathered in the months following the expedition made Peter Weyland his first billion.
(Notes: At the age of 25, Weyland has made a permanent mark on the world, as well as his first billion. Technology is already far past our own real-world capabilities, but recall Ridley Scott’s words when dealing with technology as seen in Alien: “The idea of spending really prolonged periods in space -say, of up to three years- is inconceivable and at the moment only exists in fantasies such as Alien.” Scott also referred to the FTL tech of the Nostromo and cryo-chambers as being almost tongue-in-cheek due to their fantastic elements.)

JUNE 30TH, 2015 – INITIAL ROUND OF CAPITAL INVESTMENT
Following Weyland’s success with solar panels, Weyland Industries receives funding from a trio of major venture capital firms.
(Note: Weyland Industries isn’t top dog yet, but is gaining influence, prestige, and power. The company seems set on devouring the firms that initially gave it a financial boost.)

FEBRUARY 2, 2016 – WEYLAND REVERSE GLOBAL WARMING
Using a precursor to the atmospheric processor of his own invention, Peter Weyland is able to generate a localised synthetic atmosphere above the polar ice cap, effectively ending global warming.
(Notes: If you wanted to pair up Prometheus and Alien with Blade Runner, you may have a problem here. The 2019 world of Blade Runner is blighted by atmospheric pollution and acid rain. It’s best to consider the films as spiritual siblings, rather than inter-related movies. Though a piece of trivia on the Prometheus home release has Weyland talk of his mentor, allegedly Tyrell, producer Charles de Lauzrikia outed it as a joke.)

JULY 17TH, 2016 – A YOUNG KNIGHT
At the age of 26, Peter Weyland becomes one of the youngest people to ever achieve knighthood.

DECEMBER 10TH, 2017 – NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Sir Peter Weyland is honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for his extraordinary atmospheric work over the polar ice cap.

DECEMBER 19TH, 2017 – WEYLAND REVIVES JIMO
Using capital from his 2015 success, Weyland acquires copyrights to technology developed by NASA’s innovative but poorly funded Project Prometheus. With Weyland’s significantly augmented funding for the project, JIMO became a reality and proves the existence of simple life in Europa’s ocean.
(Notes: JIMO is an acronym for Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, a proposed spacecraft that was to explore the moons of Jupiter. The real-life project lost funding in 2005. Project Prometheus is also a real NASA project, established in 2003 and cancelled in 2005. The proposed Prometheus ship was to be a nuclear electric rocket.
Concerning Europa, Scott said a few years back: “They got me going on about this wonderful planet that is out near the big gas, you know those massive gas columns we discovered about 20 years ago? Just to the side of that there’s this wonderful planet called Europa. Around that is Io and Zeta II Reticuli. We’re going back to Zeta II Reticuli.”
Here, Scott is confusing Europa for a planet among the Pillars of Creation, whereas it’s a moon of Jupiter. Zeta II Reticuli is of course the system from Alien. As for private companies becoming space pioneers…)

JUNE 1, 2022 – CURE FOR THE COMMON CANCER
Scientists from the Health Division identify the genetic chain of events for 98% of cancers. Using genetically-altered cells as well as elements found beyond Earth’s heavens, Weyland successfully deploys an effective cure for almost all cancers.

FEBRUARY 4TH, 2023 – NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Sir Peter Weyland is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine for his cancer cure.

FEBRUARY 28TH, 2023 – FOUNDATIONS
In a now legendary TED Talk, Sir Peter Weyland clarifies his vision for Weyland Industries, laying the groundwork for the next 50 years of Building Better Worlds:

“We are the gods now…”

AUGUST 5TH, 2023 – CYBERNETIC INDIVIDUAL PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 8,128,899 for Method and Apparatus for cybernetic individuals in for use in scientific and industrial environments.
(Notes: Further distancing itself as a direct relative of Blade Runner, cybernetic beings have yet to materialise, whereas in Blade Runner replicants are already utilised for off-world colony work and interstellar warfare.)

MAY 10TH, 2024 – RIFLING RECTIFICATION
Weyland military engineers make first significant improvements to rifling technology since the 19th century, tripling speed and accuracy of projectiles. Exact rifling pattern and twist rate remain classified.
(Notes: From environmental saviour and biology genius, Weyland moves into weaponry. The dichotomy in roles reveals Weyland’s emerging unscrupulous approach to business – if it sells, manufacture it. Additionally, could this be the birth of the pulse rifle?)

SEPTEMBER 6TH, 2024 – HOLOGRAPHIC ENVIRONMENT SIMULATOR
Weyland Industries makes first foray into the luxury goods market with its holographic Environment Simulator. It is the first HES able to accurately recreate the aesthetic mood and sounds of any place in the known world, as well as provide live video feed from any calibrated receiver.
(Notes: Such a device appeared in Aliens, whilst Ripley awaits her hearing. It is a rather low-fi device in the 1986 film, perhaps a cheaper model; many old facilities and clinics in Europe boast antiquated technology, as do other places around the rest of the world. Another HES appears in William Gibson’s Alien III script, simulating a forest environment in which Newt relaxes before being shipped off to Earth and out of the story.)

SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2024 – THE WEYLAND STORM RIFLE
Weyland Industries introduces first rifle able to track targets from over 500 klicks away, as well as determine a target’s health, physique and whether they can be locked down.

JANUARY 7TH, 2025 – DAVID 1
Weyland manufactures the first advanced android prototype model of its kind. He is affectionately called David, a name Sir Peter Weyland had initially reserved for his own human son.
(Notes: The genesis of Ash and Bishop, David is born. It appears that Weyland’s work life has interfered with his personal life; either he has lost a child in infancy, or has resolved, somewhat elegiacally, to refrain from relationships and procreation. Weyland emerges as an Eldon Tyrell-figure, though with a measure of empathy for his creation that Tyrell utterly lacks.)

MARCH 22ND, 2026 – ADVANCED POLYURETHANE COMPOUND PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 9,158,239 for a chemical composition of classified properties able to almost perfectly replicate the biological features and textures of human skin.

JUNE 3RD, 2026 – AUTO-ADJUST CROSSHAIRS PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 10,445,075 for Method and Apparatus for self-adjusting crosshairs that auto-process windage, Coriolis effect, trajectory, etc., eliminating the need for spotters and mathematical formulas.

SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2026 – WEYLAND INDUSTRIES + GENENTECH
Weyland acquires Genentech, significantly bolstering the company’s biotech holdings.
(Notes: A first step for Weyland to become the corporate octopus of later years. By the time of Alien, Scott had imagined that “the world would have been divided into three parts.” This world is dominated by mega-corporations that function as de facto governments. Two parts of this new world were named in lore, specifically in Ron Cobb’s designs and the Nostromo crew dossiers, as the United Americas -the merging of South and North America into one entity- and The Third World Empire, which is the political and corporate merging of Britain with Asia.)

NOVEMBER 18TH, 2026 – WEYLAND TAKES OVER KEPLER MISSION
Weyland privatises NASA’s famous Kepler mission, increases its funding 10-fold and within the year and discovers 6,546 more bio-compatible planets.

JANUARY 1ST, 2028 – DAVID 2
Weyland makes significant adjustments to the David android prototype, facilitating David’s first interaction with humans. This initial meeting is very promising.

MARCH 31ST, 2028 – $100 BILLION IN FIVE SHORT YEARS
Weyland Industries becomes first company in history to achieve a market capitalisation of $100 billion in five years.

MAY 20TH, 2028 – STASIS FUNCTION DISCOVERED
Weyland labs in San Francisco discover the body’s ability to hypersleep – the complete cessation of life processes, which can be restarted when stasis is removed. The search for a practical application begins.
(Notes: Obviously, this lays the groundwork for the stasis tubes as seen throughout the series.)

AUGUST 9TH, 2029 – ATMOSPHERIC PROCESSOR PATENTED. 
Weyland Industries earns patent number 11,280,599 for Method and Apparatus for a device that enhances the capacity of an extraterrestrial planetary environment to support life; effectively the first fully automated atmospheric processor. This patent is expected to make our founder’s famous boast a reality: “There are other worlds than this one, and if there is no air to breathe, we will simply have to make it.”
(Notes: In Aliens, Ripley seems to see an atmosphere processor for the first time. Burke explains: “They’re completely automated. We manufacture them, by the way.” The processors have been around for over 100 years by the time of Aliens, but they have perhaps not existed on the scale of the one seen at Hadley’s Hope, which can sustain the entire planetoid alone. Furthermore, many people live their lives without being exposed to certain types of technology, so it’s feasible that Ripley hasn’t seen one before, or perhaps just not one of H.H.’s gigantic magnitude.)

SEPTEMBER 18TH, 2029 – WEYLAND ACQUIRES CERN
Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) runs out of government funding. Weyland acquires the organisation as well as their Large Hadron Collider and other facilities.
(Notes: The privatisation of the world seems to be in sway. In an 1984 interview, Ridley Scott said in regards to the corporate worlds of Alien and Blade Runner: “Here you see a large corporation that does something in one area buying up another corporation that specialises in an entirely different field. Obviously two separate sides of the conglomerate world -perhaps engineering and biochemistry- will eventually merge, just as I think industries will develop their own independent space programs.”)

DECEMBER 12TH, 2029 – WEYLAND WINS PATENT SUIT
After years of litigation, Weyland wins the David patent lawsuit against the Japanese start-up Yutani Corporation, effectively protecting the investments of both Weyland Industries and its shareholders.
(Notes: The importance of Weyland’s encounters with Yutani doesn’t need illuminating. At some point post-2093 and pre-2122, the two companies merge to form Weyland-Yutani. “The owners of the Nostromo are Japanese,” explained Scott in 1979. The Eastern look expanded to the Nostromo’s space suits. A Japanese influence was later more prevalent in Alien 3.)

JULY 27TH, 2030 – HYPERSLEEP CHAMBERS PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 12,004,556 for Method and Apparatus for a device than can initiate, monitor, and terminate hypersleep. HC’s revolutionise space travel, permitting increasingly longer, more advanced missions and enabling unprecedented discovery.

AUGUST 10TH, 2031 – LUNA
Terraforming begins on Luna with plans for multiple settlements.
(Note: the first terraforming project takes place on our closest natural satellite, the Moon/Luna. On January 7th, 2092, Ellen Ripley is born on the Lunar base. Around about this time a virus known as XMB is loose on the facility, and Ripley grows up in a quarantine zone, according to the Nostromo Crew Dossiers from Alien.)

APRIL 3RD, 2032 – MAJOR SECURITY ACQUISITIONS
Weyland acquires Northrop Grumman, Boeing, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. These major acquisitions significantly bolsters multinational defense, security, and aerospace technology holdings.

MAY 20TH, 2032 – FTL TRAVEL MADE POSSIBLE
Weyland scientists discover the inverse relationship between velocity and the flow of time, making the long sought-after concept of faster than light travel a reality. The search for practical application begins.
(Notes: Well how else do you think the Nostromo and Sulaco got around?)

JULY 4TH, 2033 – BALLISTIC DEVELOPMENT
Weyland creates 5.56 millimeter round made of metals mined from Gliese 581, capable of travelling at max velocity in any atmosphere or range.

OCTOBER 4TH, 2033 – MILLIONTH EMPLOYEE HIRED
His name is Dr. Richard Post and he serves as Chief Statistician to the Electronics Division.

JANUARY 17TH, 2034 – HELIADES
Weyland Industries introduces the first FTL-capable SEV (space exploration vehicle.)
(Notes: In Greek myth, the Heliades -‘children of the sun’- were the offspring of Helios the sun god and the Oceanid Clymene, the latter of whom is also the mother of several Titans – including Prometheus)

MAY 11TH, 2035 – NSF LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON ANDROIDS
The National Science Foundation (NSF) lifts commercial restrictions on the commercial use of David androids.

JUNE 30TH, 2035 – DAVID 3
After android regulations are lifted, the third generation David is deployed internally to test human acceptance of cybernetic individuals. Results are encouraging.

JULY 21ST, 2035 – NEW OFFICES OPENED
Weyland Industries opens several new offices across the globe, expanding corporate presence to Greece, Antarctica, El Salvador, and South Africa to name a few.
(Notes: In Alien, Ripley mentions an “Antarctica mission control” as the Nostromo attempts to land on Earth – before they realise that they’re in the wrong system.)

AUGUST 25TH, 2036 – EXPLORERS ACADEMY OPENED
Weyland Industries launches the Explorers Academy – an alternative grad school for underprivileged college students interested in the fields of biotech, nanotech, cybernetics and terraforming. Top graduates of the program are offered positions at Weyland Industries.

DECEMBER 15TH, 2037 – FORTUNE 500
Fortune 500 names Weyland Industries number one on their list “10 best companies to work for”.

DECEMBER 21ST, 2037 – DISCOVERY OF THE OUTER VEIL
Weyland astronomers note an area of space appearing very rich in minerals and other natural resources. Weyland expected to travel there within the century.

JULY 4TH, 2038 – WEYLAND SUPPORTS VETERANS
Weyland Industries becomes chief employer of Asian Conflict veterans, supplying 35% with steady work.

MARCH 2ND, 2039 – AUTO-COMPENSATION PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 13,345,075 for Method and Apparatus for an add-on feature to Weyland Storm, capable of compensating for composition, density, pressure and refractive index of any atmosphere.

MAY 28TH, 2039 – GJ 667CC
Using the Weyland Atmospheric Processor, the first functional and breathable atmosphere is produced on planet GJ 667CC, clearing the way for further terraforming activities on other planets.

Weyland’s terraforming colony on Mars.

MAY 14TH, 2039 – DISCOVERY OF ACHERON LV-426
Weyland astronomers discover multiple moons and a ringed planet just outside the Zeta 2 Reticuli system, which are possibly able to support life.  Weyland expects to travel there within the century.
(Notes: the importance of this place should be obvious. The Weyland website spells Acheron wrong, referring to it as Archeron.)

APRIL 1ST, 2042 – DAVID 4
David 4 becomes the first commercially available model of the David series. He is eventually expected to improve work-flow and efficiency at offices and homes across the world.

AUGUST 18TH, 2042 – ESTABLISHMENT OF HD 85512 B
Weyland Industries awarded government contract to build and maintain HD 85512 B Class E Correctional Unit. Prisoners from Earth and other facilities are successfully relocated, and many have been rehabilitated into society.
(Notes: It’s unknown if this refers specifically to the prison colony on Fiorina 161 from Alien 3. Either way, it establishes off-world penal colonies, and Weyland Corp’s involvement in their establishment.)

NOVEMBER 20TH, 2042 – WEYLAND SUPPORTS THE FUTURE
Weyland Industries writes $5 billion cheque to Little Explorers – a charity dedicated to the education of troubled middle school students interested in science and technology.

APRIL 19TH, 2051 – RT01 GROUP TRANSPORT
Weyland Industries makes essential updates to on-planet transport. The new vehicle is capable of traversing any known terrain and has virtually no weight limit for cargo, passengers and equipment.

FEBRUARY 14TH, 2052 – ATV NR6 PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 14,524,002 for Method and Apparatus for first manned land vehicle capable of negotiating vertical surfaces. This technology permits Weyland scientists and terraforming teams to reach previously inaccessible destinations.

JULY 7TH, 2052 – DAVID 5
Weyland makes significant intellectual and emotional update to the David android, further increasing human acceptance.

AUGUST 1ST, 2055 – TOP COMPANY EXECUTIVE FOR WOMEN
NAFE (National Association for female executives) names Weyland Industries a Top 50 Company for Executive Women.

JANUARY 29TH, 2056 – POWER LOADER PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 15,725,924 for Method and Apparatus for a mechanised exo-skeleton used for lifting and moving heavy objects such as crates and vehicle weaponry.
(Notes: The famous power loader, of course, has its beginnings here.)

MAY 6TH, 2057 – LIFEBOAT PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 15,999,127 for Method and Apparatus for an ejectable luxury pod able to sustain one human life for up to 50 years.
(Notes: The origins of craft such as the Narcissus begins here. Vicker’s escape pod in Prometheus is certainly of the luxury variety.)

JULY 22ND, 2059 – PORTABLE DECONTAMINATION PACK
Weyland introduces unique expedition security apparatus able to decontaminate indoor and outdoor environments. Apparatus mines surrounding air for flammable compounds, making it ultra light-weight as well as self-replenishing.

AUGUST 9TH, 2060 – BROCA DIALECTICAL IMPLANT
Weyland Industries introduces revolutionary, game-changing language tool. It is the first ever to require no actual learning on the consumer’s behalf.
(Note: Strange how Weyland relies on David to talk to the Engineer in an early dialect, rather than learning it himself via this implant. And stranger that David actively learns throughout the journey, rather than through a download.)

SEPTEMBER 2ND, 2061 – MEDPOD 7201 PATENTED
Weyland Industries earns patent number 16,572,092 for Method and Apparatus for the first fully-automated diagnosis and surgical station.

FEBRUARY 26TH, 2062 – DAVID 6
Only 7% of humans can recognise the sixth generation of David as a cybernetic individual.

DECEMBER 1ST, 2063 – SPECTAGRAPH
Weyland Industries earns patent number 17,900,353 for Method and Apparatus for an antigravity device that 3D live-maps any foreign terrain, revolutionising the pre-process of terraforming and developing new colonies.
(Note: Obviously, Fifield’s “puppies”.With this device, you would reckon that the Company would have picked up the derelict craft on LV-426, just prior to colonising it in Aliens. However, the device perhaps only maps out the area where the colony itself will be situated. The derelict is indicated as being over a week’s worth of travel time away, way past “the Ilium range”. Additionally, LV-426’s atmosphere is apparently troublesome for the Company’s communications, and perhaps mapping, technology. Finally, the spectagraph as seen in Prometheus are small, localised devices with limited range.)

AUGUST 11, 2064 – ADVANCED SE SUITS
Significantly upgraded space suit includes a variety of Weyland patented features, such as cadium exo-skeleton; infor display with mission details; vitals; environmental stats and more.
(Notes: the suits worn by the adventurers in Prometheus.)

JUNE 23RD, 2065 – S.P.W. MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Sir Peter Weyland Memorial Library built in Washington, DC.
(Notes: A memorial library that opens decades before Weyland’s projected time of death.

NOVEMBER 20TH, 2065 – TRANSPLANETARY PEACEKEEPING
As Weyland Industries expands their terraforming activities and colonial endeavours, the company is approached by the US government to begin work on the foundation of a colonial peacekeeping force trained or populated by marines in the event of future conflict.
(Notes: Obviously, this is the birth of the Colonial Marines, as seen in Aliens. According to the Alien crew profiles, Kane was educated at a military school. Obviously, this would not have been the Colonial Marines, which belongs to the United Americas. Both Dallas and Parker served, with Parker serving in the United Americas Outer Rim Defense Fleet.)

APRIL 7TH, 2066 – DAVID JOINS THE WORKFORCE
As production costs for the David series decreases, Weyland Industries is increasingly able to extend those savings to everyday customers, leading to remarkable proliferation of the product.

JULY 6TH, 2068 – DAVID 7
Weyland builds and successfully deploys thousands of Seventh Generation Davids into workplaces across the universe. Human acceptance of David 7 reaches an all-time high thanks to Weyland’s highly classified emotional encoding technology. David can accurately replicate most human emotions down to the tiniest nuance while consistently achieving all mission objectives.

JUNE 30TH, 2070 – FDA APPROVES MEDPOD FOR AT HOME USE
Since FDA approval, one dozen have been produced with tens of thousands on back order.

MAY 13TH, 2071 – OLYMPICS 
Weyland Industries becomes World Olympic Partner and official “Cybernetics Company” of the Olympic movement through 2091.

AUGUST 16TH, 2071 – SYNAPSE REESTABLISHER
Weyland Industries earns patent number 18,364,003 for Method and Apparatus for device able to temporarily restart brain activity of deceased individuals.
(Notes: We see this device put to use in Prometheus on the decapitated Engineer head. Unfortunately for the crew, the cells they revive are flooded with the Engineers’ bioweapon, and the revived cells explode.)

MARCH 9TH, 2071 – WEYLAND REORGANISES
Weyland Industries consolidates all products and solutions into seven verticals: health, transportation, energy, electronics, terraforming, security and cybernetics.

JANUARY 1ST, 2073 – PROJECT PROMETHEUS UNDERWAY
Based on recent classified findings by Weyland researchers, the company determines the exact coordinates of a new destination for long-time pet project: Project Prometheus. New round of investment is immediately opened and mission planning enters full swing.

“The adventure begins…”

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