Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, a film deeply rooted in religion and existentialism, is arguably the most puzzling Alien movie. 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 is unknown. Here is a list of things you probably didn’t know about Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
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). It 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.”
The original Alien was written but not greenlit until Star Wars hit the scene and blew up at the box office. Coincidentally, Alien was initially titled Star Beast.
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. 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.
Fox didn’t want Naoomi Rapace
Although Rapace was known for playing the famous hacker Lisbeth Sanders in the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fox was hesitant to cast her. According to the studio, she wasn’t mainstream enough for American audiences and there was also concern about 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.
The character of Shaw was originally offered to Charlize Theron, who eventually had to pass on the role as she was committed to Mad Max: 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.”
Michael Fassbender’s David follows in the alphabetical footsteps of Ash (Alien), Bishop (Aliens and Alien 3) and Call (Alien: Resurrection). Fassbender avoided watching the previous films while researching for the part. Instead, he based the character on the Replicants Blade Runner and Peter O’Toole in Lawrence Of Arabia.
But he might not be the only android in Prometheus. There were 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 waking up from cryostasis, all the crew members are in a state of mental and physical shock. They all throw-up and feel terrible. Not Vicker. She goes immediately from cryostasis to pushups.
2. Weyland calls David the closest thing he’s ever had to a son. Vickers calls him father. But if she is his daughter, why do they have different last names?
Religion and Aliens
The plot was inspired by Erich von Däniken’s theories (from his book Chariots Of The Gods) about ancient astronauts and suggestion that life on Earth was created by aliens. “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, Ridley Scott discussed the possibility that Jesus was one of the Engineers who returned to the planet. “We thought it was a little too on the nose,” Scott answered. “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 armour 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.”
What was cut from the movie?
More than 30 minutes of deleted scenes were released on the special edition Blu-ray and DVD. Although, this still might not be the full uncut version of the film, which would probably be around 3 hours long in its entirety.
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.
MTV News: What is David saying to the Engineers in Prometheus?
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.
Linguistics consultant Dr Anil Biltoo of the SOAS Language Centre has deciphered the line:
“/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.”
What’s up with the opening scene in Prometheus?
It’s 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 planets. They ingest the black goo and become a ‘fertiliser’ needed to jump-start growth on the planet.
What is the black goo?
The black goo is “sin” incarnate. It is ‘the mud’ that created Adam and Eve (and the Apple that Eve took). The slime creates life.
Why would David poison Holloway?
He was instructed to do so by Weyland. David sneakily got Holloway’s ‘consent’ before poisoning him. When David asks Holloway what he is willing to do for the mission, Holloway replies, “Anything and everything.”
Why did the Engineers lead humans there?
The Engineers regularly checked up on mankind’s progress over the years and left clues for mankind to find. When they become advanced enough they could follow them into the stars. However, after the death of Jesus (or the alien Jesus/Engineer), the Engineers developed it into a trap in hopes of destroying mankind.
Why were the Engineers so mad at humans?
The Engineers sent an ambassador (Jesus) to Earth to correct the wrongs of mankind. His death angered the Engineers.
How did the ‘Alien’ evolve?
The Xenomorph is death incarnate. It is created from sin, and once it embodies all sin, it takes on the ultimate Xenomorph form.