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In the movie Alien: Covenant there’s a shot of a dramatically illuminated rock on which tall, thin, poplar-like trees grow.

I took a picture of the scene. The movie was on TV tonight. When I saw the scene I immediately saw the connection. I love that painting. My girlfriend threw up her arms in despair.

scene from Alien: Covenant

The painting Death Island by Böcklin is almost identical to the imagery used in that scene (or vice-versa):

Death Island, by Böckling

Is this just coincidence? I can't imagine it is, and Death Island fits the movie rather nicely. It’s a great movie.

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    You had me right up until your last sentence. Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 10:42
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    Arnold Böcklin created several versions of this popular painting, and it has inspired many other works. (Incidentally, Hitler acquired the 3rd version in 1933). See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_the_Dead_(painting) "The tiny islet is dominated by a dense grove of tall, dark cypress trees—associated by long-standing tradition with cemeteries and mourning"
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 14:34

1 Answer 1

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Concept Artist Wayne Haag (with the assistance of Steve Messing) intentionally referenced this painting at the request of Ridley Scott.

WH: There's a definite influence from ... I think I mentioned Böcklin. We referenced Arnold Böcklin a lot.

AVPForum: The 'Isle of the Dead', is it?

WH: Right. So there's a look and a feel to Böcklin's paintings, and that's what Ridley's aiming at. It's not so much the detail, necessarily, although he's big on trees. Oh he loved the trees.... but there's a general overall look and feel to his paintings that we were riffing off.

AvPGalaxy Interviews Wayne Haag, Alien: Covenant Concept Artist – AvPGalaxy Podcast #42/ - Timecode 38:55

You can see an original concept shot below, from Messing's Artstation catalogue;

enter image description here

Interestingly, H.R. Giger (one of the original concept artists for Alien and whose work has been referenced throughout the series of films) also did a couple of different versions of this painting in 1977, which Ridley Scott would no doubt have seen.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • Thats the scene indeed! Was it used as inspiration? Would be very appropriate, I liked the movie a lot. Though the reviews were mixed. Rating from 8 to 2...Ah. Yes! Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 20:04
  • Is it because David loving death or all the frozen dead bodies? Which would make the film even greater. Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 20:14
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    The first painting in the link is beatifull! Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 23:17
  • Note for future: Ridley Scott is as much an artist / creative as he is a film maker and he never does anything randomly. Graphic Designers / Illustrators (like painters) always reference something in their work, partly inspiration, partly its a game or a nod to someone else... like Clapton dropping in a Stevie Ray Vaughn riff to a live song - its not an accident. Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 8:52

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