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Prometheus [The inspiration behind…]

June 5, 2012

 

Ridley Scott made Blade Runner and Alien, but never read science fiction. His agent sent him books of the stuff, telling him every one of them was great, but he never read any. He never even picked them up.

For the last thirty two years they’d been stacked up in the corner of his brother’s basement, next to all the Top Gun memorabilia.
What did science fiction know that he didn’t? It was all laser guns and space battles and stupid-looking aliens.
Fuck ’em.
A year and a half ago…
Ridley Scott walked into the studio and waited for the first writer to arrive. According to his agent, this John Sayles guy was the same guy who’d saved Jurassic Park.
There was a knock at the door.
Sayles walked in, Scott stood up.
SCOTT: John, I loved what you did with Jurassic Park, Loved it.
SAYLES: It was nothing, really. Five hours on the typewriter, no big deal.
SCOTT: That’s great. That’s fantastic. Five hours…incredible.
SAYLES: Thanks.
Scott shouts ‘incredible’ again, claps his hands then leans forward, serious all of a sudden.
SCOTT: Listen, John. I have an idea.
SAYLES: Great.
SCOTT: It’s about Alien, that movie I did. Did you see it?
SAYLES: Yes.
SCOTT: Did you like it?
SAYLES: It’s aged well, I guess.
SCOTT: Yes, it has. It’s aged beautifully. [Pause] Now, think about this. In that movie there was a dead alien, the Space Jockey, that’s what I call him.
SAYLES: Okay…
SCOTT: So, this Space Jockey…who was he? What was he doing on that ship, dead? Well, here’s the thing. This dead Space Jockey, he’s an engineer. And the thing he engineers is life. Not just one life, but all life. The whole galaxy, his race travels around like little space birds and puts DNA in the primordial soup of each planet and then…life!
SAYLES: Got it.
SCOTT: Which brings questions, of course. Big questions, huge questions…questions so big they make you shake when you ask them. Questions that could very well make the Universe explode if ever answered. And that’s what I’m going to do, John. My new movie…sorry, my new film…Prometheus…I’m going to make the Universe explode.
SAYLES: Hmm…
SCOTT: So…what do you think? Are you in?
SAYLES: Sure, why not?
SCOTT: You’re not intimidated by the sheer scale of this thing?
SAYLES: Not really, no. I mean, as far as I can tell, it’s just like that episode of Star Trek, right?
SCOTT: What?
SAYLES: You know, where all life, the humans, the Romulans, the Klingons, it was all done by the one race, the guys who were here first.
SCOTT: No, I don’t think so. That…it sounds very different.
SAYLES: It’s also got a lot of Arthur C Clarke in it…the aliens from Childhood’s End, the way they nurtured us as a race. And then there’s Pohl and that book he did…what was it called?
SCOTT: I don’t know what you’re talking about. This isn’t…Prometheus is a fresh idea, John. What I’m describing is…it hasn’t been done before. Ever. The whole concept…people just haven’t…they’ve never thought about it, no one has.
SAYLES: Gateway, that was it. The aliens leave the ships on an asteroid that drifts into our solar system and the humans, they try to understand what they are and why they’re here and where they go…that’s it, yeah, all the ships on the asteroid have been pre-programmed with a specific destination somewhere in the galaxy, and…
SCOTT: Well, that’s completely different. There are no asteroids in Promethe-…
SAYLES: Then you’ve got all the other episodes of Star Trek where older alien races visited Earth and…you know, were generally fucking around a long, long time before we came along…and then there’s Stargate, all of them, and don’t forget about…
Scott stares at the man in front of him, shutting out the noise coming from his mouth. Finally, he stands up and walks round the table, tapping his watch.
SCOTT: Okay, John. I’ve actually got a…there’s a lunch…thing I have to go to now. I’ll talk to you soon.
SAYLES: Great. You want me to write a first draft?
SCOTT: No, it’s…it’s just the embryo of an idea at the moment. But I’ll call you. I’ll let you know how we’re progressing…if we’re getting anywhere.
They shake hands, Sayles exits, Scott slumps down in his chair. A few seconds later, he beeps his secretary.
SCOTT: Secretary, can you download all episodes of Star Trek asap and send them to my laptop?
SECRETARY: Which series?
SCOTT: I don’t know. All of them.
The next few days, Scott watches every episode of Star trek until he finally reaches the one where all life was engineered by one race.
At the end of the episode, he shakes his head and closes his laptop.
SCOTT: It’s not the same.
He thinks a while then picks up his copy of the Prometheus script and smiles.
SCOTT: You’re different, baby, aren’t you?
Under the script is an old copy of Variety. The cast of Lost are on the cover with text scribbled over their faces.
‘All the answers finally revealed…’
Scott opens the mag and flicks through. His face brightens [as much as a face can when it’s past 70].

An hour later…

SCOTT: Secretary, get me the Lost guy.
SECRETARY: JJ Abrams?
SCOTT: No, the other one. The guy who takes shit from everyone.
SECRETARY: The writer?
SCOTT: Mum-raa!
A year later…
Prometheus opens tiny. French critics complain that it’s shit, Americans complain that it’s just like that episode of Star Trek.
The Japanese sit back, shrug and think of old manga.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2012 5:38 pm

    Hee hee hee!

    Is Prometheus like an episode fro Star Trek? That’s disappointing to hear.

    • June 5, 2012 6:06 pm

      The basic idea is like a lot of things from before, yet Scott talks about the thing like it’s the first time anyone’s thought it.

      Someone needs to have a word.

      • June 5, 2012 6:14 pm

        I’ll consider myself warned now.

        I guess they wrapped it all up in Alien allusions and references, to make it scary, and added screechy music for urgency. At least that’s what it looks like from the trailer.

  2. Mondrovic permalink
    September 4, 2012 6:36 pm

    Greetings from China. The film opened yesterday nationwide. Interesting sarcasm, but i think Prometheus at least deserves a better comparison other than the long and drab stargate, if Scott’s originality is ever to be questioned. But the point is, Ridley Scott, as far as I can see, never intends to deliver any “NEW” thinking in this film, as suggested by the very NAME of the film, he just loves the myth architype and its variations, somehow in an anthropologist style, as shown in Prometheus…

    When David says “Don’t all children want their parents to die?” and when later Vickers bows and kisses her father’s hand, these two scenes reminded me immediately of Gladiator wherein Commodus stranggles his father Cesaer while crying: “Father, I love you”. And the robot/human relationship resonates this similar Oedipus motif Scott examines as early as in Blade Runner (i guess other earlier sci-fi movies and novels have already discussed such similar relationship, so yes Scott is not that original, even though it seems that he really loves such architypical motif).

    Yet when the robot/human, alien/human, child/father,human/engineer and even human/god(religion) relationships are multi-dimensionally and intertwiningly examined in a two hour 3D ALIEN prequel, I must say the movie has far exceeded my expectations as a sci-fi block buster. And I really appreciate the thought provoking perspectives Scott presents us on such matters, or simply on this very original question, which gave birth to myth architype and even religions….What could be more “original” than this?

    This film, to a certain extent, reminds me more of TREE OF LIFE by Terrence Malick than other SCI-FI thrillers for the similar “naive” question the two movies raise concerning the origin of mankind (and the opening and closing sequences as well). If Scott is ever to be accused for his speculation with such pseudo-philosophical tricks, Christopher Nolan must have been laughing on the ground for ages, for getting away with his cliche moral preaching in the previous Dark Knight, so content that he simply totally skips such trouble thinking at all this time…

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