This area of the website will feature some extrapolations on the interiors of the ship.
LOCATION OF AIRLOCK & GANGWAY
After determining the location of the alien signal is within walking distance, Dallas, Kane and Lambert suit up for the journey. In the film’s airlock sequence, we see them exit onto a lift platform that lowers them to the surface. The camera POV seems to be looking aft of the ship from a spot forward of the forward landing strut. The lift is located on the right side of the screen, stopping in close proximity of the strut. Another strut is show in the background to the right. Two questions have bugged me and repeated viewings don’t provide clarification: Where is the lift located and what deck is the airlock on? Comments & suggestions are welcome!
The lift used by the crew to reach the planetoid’s surface is shown mounted to an independent strut adjacent to a landing gear strut. Although the perspective is not certain, it appears to be outboard of the forward strut (to the right of the strut when viewed in the film). If the lift were forward of the strut, would we be able to see the background strut?
This set photo shows the lift was actually moved with a hydraulic mechanism used for indoor construction. The airlock set is seen in the top right corner, behind the scaffolding in the foreground. Is the camera taking this shot pointing to the stern of the ship? The airlock seems to be attached to the belly of the ship, approximately the same height as the landing bay doors.
Part of my blueprinting project involves locating the lift. Mindful that film production focuses on appearance and not logic, I’ve begun to realize that the airlock/gangway structures have been left to the viewer’s imagination.
The sets were designed to be easily identifiable by their colors. A-Deck is pristine-white, B-Deck (electronics) is white & gray with darker colors to indicate heavier usage. C-Deck, the maintenance deck, is “oil tanker-dirty.”
In the film, Ash waits in the airlock antechamber as Ripley and Dallas argue about the quarantine issue. This chamber is pristine, indicating an A-Deck location. This seems odd. Gangways are designed for quick egress from a ship, difficult if the airlock was on A-Deck. It would be logical to have the airlock on C-Deck since it is the bottom-most deck, but clean areas are not shown there in the film.
I think it is on B-Deck. Our few glimpses of this deck – while the crew race to find the burning acid – reveal pristine corridor nodes. The lock could be on B-Deck to facilitate maintenance crews. Maybe it isn’t on A-Deck since the vital systems there should be isolated from potential depressurization accidents in the lock.
This airlock interior shots show that it opens onto the outside of the ship, directly across from the landing gear strut:
Notice the edge of the landing gear door behind Kane’s prone form. (This is better seen in the film.) Could the airlock be much lower in the ship? It would be logical for the airlock chamber to be inside the forward strut’s stowage chamber, but the sequence prior to Brett’s death scene doesn’t show a structure in that area.
The Book of Alien offers more information through behind-the-scenes art and pictures. The airlock exterior is never shown in the film. A sketch by Ron Cobb offers the interesting concept of a deployable airlock chamber.
The lift strut appears to unfold from the bottom of the lock chamber. Notice the heavy lines around the lock where it meets the ship’s belly, perhaps suggesting it lowers from the belly until it is level with the landing gear doors and then deploys the lift strut. The sketch below shows one possible configuration:
The decks are not drawn to scale but for illustration. I placed the airlock on B-Deck, adjacent to the airlock antechamber. The crew enters the lock chamber, seals it, and initiates the drop process. The lock stops at the ship’s belly and deploys the lift strut.
View A-A on the drawing illustrates the airlock’s front view. View B-B illustrates the relative positions of the landing leg and the lift strut.
These sketches illustrate further:
The problem with placing the airlock/lift along the portside edge of the hull leaves very little room for the airlock antechamber. I say this because it would seem cramped in the narrow space along the port hull. Doesn’t leave much room for the corridor leading into the rest of the ship, either (see below).
The space problem is eliminated if the lift is forward of the landing strut. It is possible you would see the port nacelle’s landing strut if standing at the camera’s POV. This would also suggest that Ash’s science blister is reached from the same corridor that services the airlock antechamber.
+ Last update: September 9, 2016 +