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Alien 3: The Lost Tale Of The Wooden Planet
We investigate Vincent Ward's Alien movie that never was...
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Worrall looks beneath the surface of the Wooden Planet.
Worrall looks beneath the surface of the Wooden Planet.

Many aspects of Ward's Alien III survived in Alien3. The miner/prisoners on Fiorina 'Fury' 161 in Fincher's film formed a kind of religious cult. There are references to the Alien as a "dragon", echoing Ward's 'devil' concept. Ripley is impregnated and sacrifices herself in a fiery death. Ward was given a "story" credit on Fincher's film; "I was surprised to get any credit!" he laughs now. While Reynolds sympathetically feels that Ward "saw a big opportunity slip by", Ward didn't appear too damaged by the experience. He fed his pay-off money into Map Of The Human Heart, which was a critical hit, and later proved he could handle a big studio picture with 1998's What Dreams May Come (into which he inserted some of the 'upside-down cathedral' imagery intended for Alien III). He's even since developed two other films with Fox, and made one (2005's River Queen) with Fox's support. He is keen to stress that this "isn't a sour-grapes story". "There were no bad guys on Alien III," insists Ward. "Just people with different agendas."

Worral sketches out an Alien attack in the Wooden Planet's wheatfields.
Worral sketches out an Alien attack in the Wooden Planet's wheatfields.
It's a shame Fox got cold feet. The Wooden Planet concept is undeniably attractive - it would have been visually arresting at the very least, and could have made for some astonishing action sequences. One scene that was discussed would have involved the Alien hunting unwitting monks in the wooden world's wheatfields - similar to the scene with the velociraptors in Spielberg's The Lost World: Jurassic Park, made five years later. Norman Reynolds remembers an early design idea for "a wooden library shaft. You looked at the books on this wooden platform that went up and down." Imagine the kind of vertical jeopardy sequence that could have been staged here, the Alien clambering up these impossibly high bookshelves as desperate monks work the platform.

Ward still has "a tremendous excitement" for Arceon. In the years since working on the Alien sequel, he's even been approached by Michael London, now an independent producer, to use the concept for another movie. "He said to me, 'I love that Alien story you wrote,' and he kept coming back and suggesting other writers to work on it, to see if that idea, or the parts of it that remained, could be made quite separately from the Alien movie."

Interestingly, some of the themes of Ward's Alien III feed into his next film, a docudrama called Rain Of The Children, which tells the true story of a Maori woman who grew up in an isolated cult. But he's still, all these years later, entertaining the idea of one day bringing this strange, teak-clad ants'-nest world of technophobic monks to the big screen. "I still have the film in my head," he says. "I can still see it really strongly." Who knows? We may see it yet.

To find out more about Vincent Ward's vision for Alien 3, visit www.vincentwardfilms.com.

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