LONDON – A similar ambiguity will be repeated over and over and over again in pre-release promotion for “Prometheus,” but the question of how directly Ridley Scott’s new film should be viewed as a prequel to “Alien” keeps needing to be asked.
Scott has been talking circles around the “prequel” issue for many months and he did so again with a group of reporters gathered for the “Prometheus” junket at Claridge’s in London.
“For all intents and purposes this is very loosely a prequel, very,” Scott maintains.
Speculation that “Prometheus” relates to oft-asked questions about the “Space Jockey” corpse introduced in “Alien” has raged since before production even began and Scott admits that’s the question that drew him to return to this world.
“The very simple question was ‘Who the hell was in that ship? Who is sitting in that seat?’ and ‘Why that cargo?’ and ‘Where was he going?’ No one asked the question, so I thought ‘Duh.’ It’s a ‘duh,’ isn’t it?” Scott says.
But saying whether or not that question gets answered in “Prometheus” isn’t simple. It isn’t simple for people who have seen the film and it isn’t simple for Scott.
He continues, “They’re all bright guys… Jim [Cameron] and David [Fincher’ and the French guy [“Alien: Resurrection” director Jean-Pierre Jeunet], and I thought ‘Wow, duh.’ And I just kind of sat and thought about it for a while and I was busy, so I didn’t really do anything about it and then when they finally put it to bed in ‘Alien vs. Predator’ I thought ‘You know what? This is a good idea here.’ The more I talked about it, I thought ‘God damn…” I was going to call it ‘Alien – Paradise’ because I thought that had a spooky connotation to the idea, because it concocts our notion and idea of paradise and ‘What is that?’ And paradise to us suggests religion and religion says ‘God’ and then God, who created us, and that’s certainly… you’ve got a scientist who believes in God and there’s lots of scientists who believe flatly in God and even though they may be in quantum physics, they say ‘I get to a wall and sometimes wonder ‘Who the hell thought of this one?’ and I can’t get through the wall. When I get through the wall more is revealed and I still see another wall, so who is making this shit up?'”
That’s a completed answer to a question of how “Prometheus” evolved from a straight-forward “Alien” prequel to the very different thing that it became. It’s also an insight into Scott’s intellectual process, a series of lateral leaps that find him beginning our roundtable interview by explaining why we don’t have “Star Trek”-style matter transporters yet and goes on to include explanations of germ theory, his feelings on artificial intelligence, the origins of the Gulf of Mexico and more.
Some directors or storytellers may think project-to-project, but Scott is going many directions at the same time. One of those directions certainly could include a potential “Prometheus” sequel [“I’ve opened the doors. I know where it’s going.”], but he’s also been attached to projects including “Monopoly,” a “Blade Runner” sequel, an adaptation of “Brave New Work” and the long-gestating “Tripoli.”
“I’m on all of them,” Scott laughs proudly.
He continues, “They are all happening now. ‘Monopoly’s’ first pass is written. ‘Blade Runner’ is in process now with Hampton Fancher. I don’t know what to do with ‘Brave New World.’ It’s tough. I think ‘Brave New World’ in a funny kind of way was good in 1938, because it had a very interesting revolutionary idea… When you re-analyze it, maybe it should stay as a book. I don’t know.”
So the scoreboard:
“Monopoly” – Check!
“Blade Runner” Sequel – Check!
“Brave New World” – Uncheck! But Ridley Scott’s been known to revisit things long after the fact. Like “Alien.”
And all of those projects may take a backseat, because… Ridley Scott has a Western!
“I want to do a Western really badly and I think I”ve got a Western this morning, finally after two and a half years of talking and writing and talking and… I think I have it, which is kind of interesting,” he says.
“Tripoli,” the film that Scott has been attached to for longest, is currently the one that sounds least likely to occur, but he ends the interview by giving a full synopsis that indicates his passion remains intact. So who knows?
“Prometheus” opens on June 8 at theaters everywhere (unless you’re in European territories where it’s opening sooner than that).