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Decoding 'Prometheus' & What We Might See Should We Ever Get A 'Prometheus 2'

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist June 12, 2012 at 1:00PM

Frustrated? Angry? Bored? Hungry? Ready to move on? Yes, the online conversation surrounding Ridley Scott's ambitious, belated return to the science-fiction genre in "Prometheus" is nearly exhausted. Depending on who you are, you've either experienced enough for a lifetime (online writers and editors surely have), but if you're the audience who may have just recently caught the film, your thirst for more discussion around the film might not have been sated quite yet.
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Prometheus feature
"The Alien" franchise story seems to be over.  At least for this particular prequel franchise.
"Prometheus" tells essentially two stories. One, how the alien xenomorphs came into existence (again, see both the podcast and the 'GB&U' piece for thos specific details), which is pretty definitively told, and the second story we'll get to in a minute. But as many have noted, the events of Prometheus take place on the moon LV223 (which orbits the star Gleise 86) and the events of Ridley Scott's 1979 "Alien" take place on a moon called LV426 (some posit that they are two neighboring solar systems that are nearby, but not exactly next door, but let's not go there for now). So does this mean, in their attempts to escape their own bio-weapons turned bad, that some of the Engineers end up on LV426? Well, maybe, but the "Prometheus" creators don't seem interested in telling that particular story, probably because it's a bit immaterial to the bigger picture story. "How do we end up on LV426? Where did that derelict ship come from? All the answers are not directed out of 'Prometheus,' " the film's screenwriter Damon Lindelof said in an interview with ShockTilYouDrop. " 'Prometheus' has two children, one of them is 'Alien' and the other child -- hopefully God willing people want to see another movie -- goes off in an entirely new direction, so there could be a sequel to 'Prometheus' that is not 'Alien.' "

That story seems, to us, pretty dull and thankfully, Lindelof agrees. "You don't have all the direct correlations to the eggs, to the chestbursters, but [you have a sense of context] and I don't think we need to connect all of those dots in subsequent movies. That that would be a fulfilling idea... we've given you A and we've given you Z, so why would you want to watch a movie that's B to Y? Now 'Prometheus' is ready to go off in its own direction on its own entirely different tangent that is not going to be reliant on the things we've seen a thousand times before."

Noomi Rapace, Prometheus
So that tangent is what?
Well, clearly it's about Noomi Rapace trying to find some answers and risking her life (one that she doesn't care too much about since she's already lost the love of her life Charlie Holloway) to uncover why the Engineers decided to give up on Earth even though David advises her that the information is now irrevelant and she should go home. It's as if her religious beliefs have finally trumped her scientific ones.  Unconvinced? Ridley Scott spells it out more in a recent interview. "Well, from the very beginning, I was working from a premise that lent itself to a sequel. I really don’t want to meet God in the first one," he told Movies.com. "I want to leave it open to [Noomi Rapace’s character, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw] saying, “I don’t want to go back to where I came from. I want to go where they came from.” 

And note, as we mentioned in an earlier piece, "Prometheus" was once called "Alien: Paradise" and that title, or at least, theme could reoccur in the sequel, paradise being a type of heaven. "I'd love to explore where [Dr. Shaw] goes next and what does she do when she gets there," Scott told THR. "Because if it is paradise, paradise can not be what you think it is. Paradise has a connotation of being extremely sinister and ominous."

Meanwhile, so why did our creators turn on us and do Lindelof and Ridley Scott know that answer yet? The answer is definitely yes. "I'm all for ambiguity, but if we didn't know the answer to that one, the audience would have every right to string us up," Lindelof said in a recent interview with MTV. "Yes. There is an answer. One that is hinted at within the goalposts of 'Prometheus.' I'll bet if I asked you to take a guess you wouldn't be far off." And so what would make the creators decide to turn on humans and earth 2000 years ago? Well, the birth of one Jesus Christ was a pretty significant moment that happened round then, was it not? And it would rather fit in well with a film that grapples with questions of creation and a character that juggles theology with science.

As to why the birth of Christ would anger our creators to the degree that they decide, through rather tortuous methods, it must be said, to exterminate us? Well, this is even more highly, highly speculative of course, but clearly they weren't bothered by humanity's worship of a creationist God or gods prior to that point. Christianity, however, posits that Jesus was not just another prophet, but the actual literal Son of God - he was divinity made human. Was this the ultimate blasphemy to our creators? Or, going even further out on this tenuous limb, was there a more complex motive involved, for example, could they have been prompted not by pique but by jealousy, say, if Christ was the evidence that their own gods, that is the Engineers' creators, favored us above their own creation? Ok, we're skewing dangerously close to fanfic here, so we'll pull back, but suffice to say, the part that the creators of our creators play in the evolving mythology of the franchise, and how that will intersect with our own theology, is one of the areas that any "Prometheus" sequel will have to address.

And if the film does dare to wade through these fascinating but dangerous waters, we have to say we're intrigued, but also wary: frankly the filmmakers are going to have to do a better job of elucidating their themes and theses than they did here, if these weighty matters are what they're concerned with. More importantly, how are they going to make a film of that nature be a sci-fi horror/thriller when on paper, all signs point to something much more existentialist (i.e. the part of "Prometheus" without action that's though-provoking). Then again, as Scott says, paradise could be rather sinister. Tease some of the most profound philosophical questions, probe our very ontology if you will, and throw millenia of religious doctrine and theology into the blender too, but only if you have the smarts, and the chutzpah, to see it through. Otherwise you get, well, "Prometheus." -- Jessica Kiang & RP

This article is related to: Prometheus, Ridley Scott, Damon Lindelof


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