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Immersed in Movies: Dissecting 'Prometheus' with Scripter Damon Lindelof and VFXers

Thompson on Hollywood By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood June 8, 2012 at 6:25PM

While it's not surprising that critics and journos are deeply divided over "Prometheus," it helps to have low expectations. In my case, I came away with more than I expected. I found Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi enthralling. He seems to have transcended the "Alien" universe by combining it with "Blade Runner."
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Prometheus, ship

While it's not surprising that critics and journos are deeply divided over "Prometheus," it helps to have low expectations. In my case, I came away with more than I expected. I found Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi enthralling. He seems to have transcended the "Alien" universe by combining it with "Blade Runner." In a sense, watching "Prometheus" is like experiencing a hybrid of both, and exploring the dualities that are a part of their shared DNA: beauty and ugliness, creation and destruction, humanity and inhumanity. Ultimately, "Prometheus" is Scott's summary film -- his "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Lawrence of Arabia" yet filtered through his existential lens.

It's no accident that screenwriter-exec producer Damon Lindelof channeled the roots of Scott's passions in his "Prometheus" rewrite. He was eager to revisit this sci-fi icon. "The experience of working with Ridley was intimidating, and incredible and fulfilling and terrifying all at the same time," he says. "It was a very surreal experience. He gets uncomfortable when you praise him and he waved me off and said let's [get to it]."

Lindelof found the script by Jon Spaihts to be a straightforward narrative prequel and brought out more thematic subtext to the surface about the search for God and immortality, which is what animated Scott. "The audience is going to see a bit of the [tropes] because, if you go to a Rolling Stones concert, they'd better play 'Sympathy for the Devil.' I looked at my job as a rebalancing and so I flipped the 70% 'Alien' and 30% new idea. As the development process went along, we were talking more and more about this great sci-fi principle, which is: Do not thou ask where thou comes from. 'Alien' and 'Blade Runner' are still the movies that Ridley is interested in: one is about gestation and creation and delivery: an abomination inside yourself; the fear of coming from within. And 'Blade Runner' asks, 'why am I here and why do I have to die?'"

This article is related to: Prometheus, Ridley Scott, Ridley Scott, Stuck In Love, VFX


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.