Prometheus is a Titan and culture hero who in Greek mythology is credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence, and as a champion of mankind.
Ridley Scott’s much-anticipated Prometheus, a film deeply rooted in religion and existentialism, is arguably one of the most puzzling movies of the year. While it’s filled with unforgettable visual imagery many have argued that not enough planning went into the plot. It was originally envisioned as a prequel to the Alien saga, but aside from a few narrative connections, the two films couldn’t be any more different. After some investigation, it seems that some rather important facts “didn’t” appear within the theatrical cut. Whether these were left out purposely to create water-cooler chitter-chatter, or whether they are simply huge plot holes remains to be seen. Perhaps a director’s cut will fill in all the blanks. Until then we are left with nothing but speculation and a few facts (warning spoilers below):
1. The Original Script
Before Damon Lindelof got his hands on the Jon Spaihts script the film originally focused on the origins of the Xenomorphs (the acid-dripping aliens) and the Space Jockey (the mysterious extra-terrestrial pilot of the derelict spaceship discovered by the crew of the Nostromo in the original 1979 Alien movie). The original script had everything we have come to expect from alien movies; eggs, facehuggers, chestbursters, xenomorphs and acid blood. Lindelof pitched the idea of a movie focused on themes of creation instead. From there on the script evolved into what it is today and even got a different title. The film was originally called ‘Paradise’ but Scott renamed it ‘Prometheus’ because he felt the title better fitted the overall theme. “It’s the story of creation; the gods and the man who stood against them. For Prometheus, I came back to a very simple question that haunted me that appears in the first Alien, and no one answered in subsequent Alien films: who was the ”Space Jockey”—the big guy in the seat? If you really go into that, it becomes the basis for a pretty interesting story.”
TRIVIA: The Prometheus shoot cost more than $120 million and spanned three continents.
2. James Cameron was set to direct
The director of the original sequel, Aliens, James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic, Terminator) was at one point attached to the prequel, but when Fox approached him with the script for AVP: Alien vs. Predator, the director quickly backed off. He argued that the crossover would “kill the validity of the franchise”. Following the awful Alien Vs Predator and its sequel, Alien vs. Predator – Requiem, Prometheus remained dormant until 2009 when Ridley Scott again showed interest. There has also been a host of rumours floating around the net that Cameron might, in fact, step in as director for a Prometheus sequel.
3. Fox didn’t want Naoomi Rapace
Though Rapace was known for playing the famous hacker, Lisbeth Sanders, in the Swedish version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” films, Fox was hesitant she wasn’t mainstream enough for American audiences. The studio was also concerned with her shaky English. Thankfully, Scott backed her entirely and worked diligently with the actress to master an English test. “Ridley worked with me as if it was a real scene,” Rapace said. “He kept saying to me, ‘You don’t have to prove anything, this is not a test for me. You’re my girl. We’re just doing this together so they can see that you can act in English.’” One night on TV, he caught Rapace’s performance in “Dragon Tattoo.” “I was taken and curious,” Scott said. “Who was this punk and which alleyway did [the director] get her?” Rapace worked with a voice coach to form a believable British accent as the character of Shaw was originally offered to Charlize Theron whom eventually had to pass on the role as she was committed to Mad Max 4: Fury Road. When her commitments opened up Theron returned to the cast as Vickers. At Theron’s suggestion, Lindelof and Scott refined the actress’ role as the villainous Weyland Industries representative Meredith Vickers. “Vickers had a specific corporate agenda, which is very familiar in the Alien movies: someone representing the interests of the company,” Lindelof explains. “But Charlize said, ‘Can there be more to her?’ And then we wrote three scenes just in service of that character.”
TRIVIA: “Alien” was written, but not greenlit, until “Star Wars” hit the scene and blew up at the box office. And seeing as how “Alien” was the only other sci-fi script 20th Century Fox had in the can at the time, it was a no-brainer. Coincidentally, “Alien” was initially titled “Star Beast”.
4. Artificial Humans
Michael Fassbender follows in the alphabetical footsteps of Ash (Alien), Bishop (Aliens and Alien 3) and Call (Alien: Resurrection) by playing an android called David. When researching for the role, Fassbender avoided watching the previous Alien films and instead based his character on the Replicants in Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner and Peter O’Toole in Lawrence Of Arabia.
But he might not be the only android in Prometheus. There are also rumours that Vicker (Charlize Theron) might also be an artificial human. There are a few questionable actions by Vicker throughout the story that supports the theory.
1. After cryostasis all the crew members are in a state of mental and physical shock, throwing up and convulsing. She goes immediately from cryostasis to pushups without even drying off.
2. Weyland calls David the closest thing he’s ever had to a “Son”. Vickers calls him “Father”, which makes her his “Daughter”. They have different last names.
3. The pilot asks her to have sex, and she agrees. This might be proof of her being biological, but remember the Replicants from Blade Runner (Decker sleeps with Rachel, and Pris is a “Pleasure Model”).
4. When Shaw asks the med-bay to perform a cesarean it says it was not configured for women, only men. That means Vickers had a med-bay in her private quarters that was not configured for her. Androids don’t need medical attention. Meaning it was probably designed for Weyland.
TRIVIA: Prometheus dawned when Scott told Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Tom Rothman that he wished to revisit the territory that been under his skin since he was passed over for 1986’s Aliens, the sequel that propelled James Cameron’s career. “I was really pissed off, frankly,” he says about the old wound.
5. Religion and Aliens
The plot was inspired by Erich von Däniken’s theories about ancient astronauts and suggestion that life on Earth was created by aliens in his book Chariots Of The Gods. “NASA and the Vatican agree that it’s almost mathematically impossible that we can be where we are today without there being a little help along the way,” said Scott. “That’s what we’re looking at, at some of Erich von Däniken’s ideas of how we humans came about.” Mixing Christianity and Science-Fiction, the story tries to answer some of life’s biggest questions; Where do we come from and who are our creators?
In an interview with Movies.com:
You throw religion and spirituality into the equation for Prometheus, though, and it almost acts as a hand grenade. We had heard it was scripted that the Engineers were targeting our planet for destruction because we had crucified one of their representatives and that Jesus Christ might have been an alien. Was that ever considered?
Ridley Scott: We definitely did, and then we thought it was a little too on the nose. But if you look at it as an “our children are misbehaving down there” scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, “Lets’ send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it. Guess what? They crucified him.
6. What was cut from the movie?
According to Collider, there are about 30 minutes of deleted scenes Ridley wants to include in the DVD release. This still might not be the full uncut version of Prometheus, which would probably be around 3 hours long in its entirety.
TRIVIA: Designer H.R. Giger, who worked on the original design of the Xenomorph Alien, was brought in to assist in reverse-engineering the design of the Aliens in the film.
7. Questions answered in interviews
Movies.com: Is that first planet in the prologue Earth?
Ridley Scott: No, it doesn’t have to be. That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he’s doing is acting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is the disintegration of himself.
Crave Online: Was David’s basketball toss a nod to Alien Resurrection?
Lindelof: I do think that there are a lot of tips of the cap in Prometheus to all of those movies and I think it’s so easy to sit back and rag on mistakes made or wrong paths turned down. But at the end of the day, every single one of those movies I feel had good things in them and an articulation of fondness. All I’ll say in response to your question is, nothing is an accident in Prometheus. Every single decision that is made by Ridley Scott is made for a very specific reason and purpose.
MTV News: What is David saying to the engineers?
Lindeloff: David’s dialogue with the Engineer has an English translation, but Ridley felt very strongly about not subtitling it. I spoke at length about this on my DVD commentary.
8. Interesting Theories
What Was Up With That Opening Scene?
Its the creation of life on a planet. (According to Ridley Scott, whether this planet is Earth or not is irrelevant.) This is how Engineers brought life to otherwise lifeless planets. This single Engineer is dropped off by his people’s ship and left to a mission that results in his own demise. Once ingested by the Engineer, the black goo merges with and breaks apart its host. (The Engineer is a bit like the fertilizer it needs to jump-start growth.) We are then led to assume that the goo-infused DNA of the Engineer is spread by the water and creates life on the planet.
What Is the Black Goo?
The black goo is “sin” incarnate. The black slime is literally the mud that created Adam and Eve (aka the Primordial Soup), and the Apple that Eve took. In the hands of the creator, the slime creates life. In the hands of someone who is self-interested, the slime takes on its own creation and evolution, until it leads to death incarnation.
Why Would David Poison Holloway?
By “poisoning” Holloway with the black slime, David ultimately brought about Holloway’s death. David stealthily got Holloway’s consent before poisoning him. After David asks Holloway what he is willing to do for the mission, Holloway replies, “Anything and everything.” David has consent and a mission from Weyland.
Why Did the Engineers Lead Humans There?
One theory mirrors Shaw and Holloway’s in the film: The Engineers regularly checked in on mankind’s progress and left clues to be followed when man had become advanced enough. However, once things went awry 2,000 years ago (Space Jesus), the Engineers switched their welcoming committee for a death trap.
Why Were the Engineers So Mad at Humans?
In earlier versions of Prometheus, the Engineers sent an ambassador figure (Jesus) to Earth to correct the wrongs that mankind was doing. And, what did mankind do to Jesus? They killed him. This angered the Engineers and caused them to make a plan of destruction for mankind.
How Did the ‘Alien’ Evolve?
The Xenomorph is an anti-creator. It is death incarnate. It is the grim reaper. It is created from sin, and once it embodies all the sins, it takes on the ultimate Xenomorph form. This explains why, at the end of the movie, the Xenomorph is not a perfect evolution. It has only reproduced in two ways, lust and rage… Because the DNA of the Human and Engineer are almost exact, the Xenomorph couldn’t evolve from the worms.
TRIVIA: In May 7th, 2012, Guillermo del Toro declared that his long proposed adaptation for “At the Mountains of Madness” was indefinitely delayed as he felt Ridley Scott’s film was extremely similar to the approach he penned for H.P. Lovecraft’s novella, even to the point of having “scenes that would be almost identical. Both movies seem to share identical set pieces and the exact same big revelation (twist) at the end.”
9. Bonus Update – What Did David Say To The Engineer?
Linguistics consultant Dr. Anil Biltoo of the SOAS Language Centre answers. The line that David speaks to the Engineer (which is from a longer sequence that didn’t make the final edit) is as follows:
“/ida hmanəm aɪ kja namṛtuh zdɛ:taha/…/ghʷɪvah-pjorn-ɪttham sas da:tṛ kredah/”
A serviceable translation into English is:
“This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life.”