Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' Tilda Swinton Joins Benedict Cumberbatch In 'Doctor Strange' Tilda Swinton Joins Benedict Cumberbatch In 'Doctor Strange' Watch: Jason Segel Plays David Foster Wallace Opposite Jesse Eisenberg In The First Trailer For ‘The End Of The Tour’ Watch: Jason Segel Plays David Foster Wallace Opposite Jesse Eisenberg In The First Trailer For ‘The End Of The Tour’ The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Lonely Island Movie Is Called 'Conner4real,’ Targets Justin Bieber & Katy Perry, Adds Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, & More Lonely Island Movie Is Called 'Conner4real,’ Targets Justin Bieber & Katy Perry, Adds Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, & More Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Book Review: In 'Prometheus: The Art Of The Film' Ridley Scott & Co. Offer The Film’s Most Direct Explanation Yet

The Playlist By Christopher Schobert | The Playlist June 14, 2012 at 11:00AM

Judging by the comments here and here, everyone is a bit “Prometheus”-ed out at this point, even if, like me, you came down on the positive side. It’s easy to forget the film only opened in North America last Friday, so epic is the flow of post-viewing discourse. (“Prometheus”: The “Girls”/"Mad Men" of summer cinema.)
12
Prometheus: The Art Of The Film Book Cover

Judging by the comments here and here, everyone is a bit “Prometheus”-ed out at this point, even if, like me, you came down on the positive side. It’s easy to forget the film only opened in North America last Friday, so epic is the flow of post-viewing discourse. (“Prometheus”: The “Girls”/"Mad Men" of summer cinema.)

So what more can be said? Plenty. As Titan Books’ gorgeous, hardcover “Prometheus: The Art of the Film” makes evident, we’ve only hit the tip of the Nostromo in terms of understanding everything that’s visible, or hinted at, in Ridley Scott’s divisive sci-fi epic. With startling imagery and simple, unfussy text from author Mark Salisbury, the book offers something viewers have so far lacked: A complete overview of the film’s concept and design from the filmmakers themselves. And until the Blu-ray release, this is likely the closest we’ll get to a breakdown from Sir Ridley.

Prometheus: The Art Of The Film skip crop

Like the film itself, the text demands a familiarity with Scott’s original “Alien”; we journey quickly from the project’s initial birth as “Untitled Alien Prequel” to the Luke Scott-helmed TED viral video, which, unsurprisingly, “was conceived and designed by Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof.” We see storyboard art by the director himself — “Ridleygrams” as the book calls them — and move through the plot, beat by icky beat, to the unveiling of the climactic, Giger-y “offspring of the Trilobite’s impregnation of the Engineer, the Deacon.” (Scott’s explanation of the name is quite clever — think Catholicism.)

Perhaps most intriguingly, the book spells out some of the film’s most WTF? moments in the most direct detail we’ve seen yet. An example is the already controversial opening. While it’s not overly difficult to interpret its meaning in light of all that takes place over the 120 minutes that follow, seeing it spelled out in black and white is, at the very least, helpful: “A young Engineer drinks from a ceremonial cup, then begins to disintegrate, his remains blowing into the sea and, eventually, mankind itself.” This is a rather explicit explanation, at the very least.

Prometheus: The Art Of The Film skip crop

We learn the cockamamie names for such elements as the holographic navigation system discovered by David (the orrery) and just what the inspirations were for the Engineers’ appearance (Michelangelo’s David, The Statue Of Liberty, and, ahem, Elvis Presley). In fact, the textual analysis is often more enticing than the admittedly stunning artwork. Even throwaway lines greatly add to one’s understanding of Scott’s modus operandi. Example: While it’s a bit confusing onscreen, Prometheus is most assuredly “not set on LV-426 (‘That’s another planet,’ confirms Scott).”

Interestingly, Titan has also rereleased 1979’s “Book of Alien,” a dated but fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Scott’s immortal original. In light of the discoveries in “Prometheus,” it is especially fascinating to read author Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross’s analysis of the Space Jockey: “While the Alien is a terrifying, nightmarish creature, the jockey — while certainly inhuman — is not. Sitting in repose in its doomed derelict ship, the jockey somehow appears to have been a benign creature. People involved in the film tend to agree on this. But they can’t explain why.”

Prometheus: The Art Of The Film skip crop

The included unused art is also of interest, especially an apparently un-filmed (we’ll see about that when the extended cut arrives) end sequence in which the Deacon exits the lifeboat and seemingly makes its way to the downed ship. And production anecdotes certainly entertain, especially one that recalls one of the most infamous startling sequences: “When the Hammerpede attacks Millburn, his arm is broken. … Filming the scene, much like in ‘Alien’ where not every cast member knew what was about to happen with John Hurt and the chestburster, Scott didn’t tell Kate Dickie, who plays Ford, the ship’s doctor, everything. ‘Ridley had indicated something was going to happen, recalls [creature and special makeup effects supervisor Neal] Scanlon. ‘We had the Hammerpede on the end of a monofilament wire, loaded into a dummy of Milburn that was rolled over. As we pulled it out, it was clearly an enormous shock to her. The screams are real.”

Anecdotes are all well and good, but a truly strong book on film design must enhance the experience of re-watching (consider 2009’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence: From Stanley Kubrick to Steven Spielberg: The Vision Behind the Film”). “Prometheus: The Art of the Film” certainly achieves that, and for those who still find themselves pondering this eccentric creation days after exiting the cinema, it might just be an essential read, even at 40 bucks. Of course, it leaves many, many questions unanswered: Are we really supposed to buy the “Jersey Shore”-esque Logan Marshall-Green as a wildly intelligent scientist? Why not cast an actual older person as Weyland, rather than saddling Guy Pearce with the worst old-aged make-up since Charles Foster Kane wandered Xanadu? A Stephen Stills reference? Really? But in the end, it does what a great visual analysis should -- it makes us want to dive back into this world again.

So leave it to Ridley “King of Development” Scott to end the book with an even more obvious appeal for a sequel than the film itself did: “I thought ‘Prometheus’ was so enjoyable — returning to the world of science fiction was so fun — I’m thinking about what the hell I might do for a ‘Prometheus 2’ ...”

"Prometheus: The Art Of The Film" is in bookstores now.

Images © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

This article is related to: Prometheus, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates