How Did 'Mank' Give Fincher 'Alien 3' PTSD?

Sometimes I forget David Fincher directed Alien 3. Most of the time, he would like to forget it, too. 

One of the great things about Fincher is how open he is about his catalog. His movies are picked by hand, and he puts everything he has into all of his projects. His insane attention to detail is the stuff of legends and something we can emulate (in moderation). 

Still, Fincher became an auteur by jumping from the studio system after hating everything about making his first film, Alien 3.

He's come a long way since then, with a few classics under his belt and a lot of influential and incredibly entertaining work as well. In a new interview with Vulture, Fincher said his father’s original Mank script “was [about] a great writer obliterated from memory by this showboating megalomaniac,” which he only realized was “limited in scope” after his nightmare experience directing Alien 3.

He went on to talk about his awful experiences on Alien 3 without even mentioning the movie by name, which is quite something! 

Fincher said, "Once I had gone to Pinewood for two years and had been through a situation where I was a hired gun to make a library title for a multinational, vertically integrated media conglomerate, I had a different view of how writers and directors needed to work. I kind of resented his anti-auteurist take. I felt that what the script really needed to talk about was the notion of enforced collaboration. You may not like the fact that you’re going to be beholden to so many different disciplines and skillsets in the making of a movie, but if you’re not acknowledging it, you’re missing the side of the barn. A script is the egg, and it needs a donor to create the cellular split that moves it into the realm of something playable in three dimensions and recordable in two dimensions and presentable to other people." 

This open honesty from a filmmaker is refreshing.

We often worry that we'll be defined by our worst work, and not out best. But Fincher is proof that as long as you keep creating, you have a shot to succeed.

As IndieWire puts it, "The production of Alien 3 gave Fincher a front-row seat to how a director’s vision and intentions can get disrupted by industry powers much larger than him. Fincher directed Alien 3 as the script continued to be written and rewritten during production, and he disavowed the film when it opened theatrically."

I'm interested in seeing if this movie helps Fincher find the Academy Award he's deserved for so long, but who knows what the pandemic will bring to the Oscars. 

Mank will open with a limited theatrical release beginning November 13th. It makes its Netflix streaming debut on December 4th. 

Fan of Alien 3? Let us know what you think in the comments.      

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Every Alien movie was author vision of Giger's work, of O'Bannon's work, and evry author try to put himself in it. Obviously in a big production not all can told their ideas, Scott was just a big name, Cameron was so strong on his ideas (like ever), Fincher was crunched against wall and his (probably) inexperience with big studios, Jeunet was a great artist and mature author and force a lot his alien 4. I think you can recognize in every alien the director's imprinting, with the except of alien 3, i saw at theather, later i bought special dvd bundle with extended version of all movies, and later i understand more. like director i can understand that it's frustrating try to direct a movie, when the world and movie change continuosly surround you. But... i like a very different point of view of saga, and i like also Alien 3.

November 3, 2020 at 8:01AM

Carlo Macchiavello
Director (with strong tech knowledge)

What a terrible article title. Shame on you for mocking PTSD just for clickbait, and week from Veterans Day!? This is incredibly offensive. You should remove PTSD from the title and train your writers and editors to do better.

November 3, 2020 at 8:35AM, Edited November 3, 9:12AM

Joshua Katz
Writer, actor, producer