He might have reinvented the genre of science fiction film with Alien but it is the timeless Blade Runner that Sir Ridley Scott will always be known for. The legendary director is back to treat his fans (and fans of the genre) with Prometheus, which opens in theatres worldwide tomorrow (June 8).
“Over the past few decades, we’ve been action filmed-out and monster filmed-out and almost science fiction filmed-out,” says Scott. “So the question is: how original are you going to be?” says the director while explaining his reasons for being out of the scene for so long.
“The reason I haven’t made another sci-fi film in so many years — apart from the fact that I’ve been busy making other films and exploring different genres — is that, frankly, I haven’t come across anything worthwhile for me to do with enough truth, originality and strength. Prometheus has all three.”
Prometheus, which features Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce and Michael Fassbender, has some definite connections with the horrifying Alien which was released in 1979. “Something that had stayed with me ever since Alien was the mystery behind it,” says Scott. “Who was he? Where was he from? What was his mission? What kind of technology would his kind possess? I thought those questions could provide a springboard for even larger ideas.”
Hence Alien provided the real breeding grounds for Prometheus and Scott believes that even the fans of Alien will be able to notice the connection. “Out of the creative process while developing the picture emerged a new, grand mythology, in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognise strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, far-reaching and provocative.”
The mystery of the unknown
The film’s central metaphor is the Greek Titan Prometheus, who had defied gods by giving humans the gift of fire, something he is severely punished for. “When you talk about the myth on which the title is based, you’re dealing with humankind’s relationship with the gods — the beings who created us — and what happens when we defy them,” says Scott.
Like most of his films, even in Prometheus, what the protagonist eventually discovers is completely unexpected. “That’s what makes good drama,” states the film-maker. “Our story circles the truth of what might be out there and therein lays its most frightening aspect.”
The story is about a team that meets a survivor of a civilisation in control of some very dangerous biological and biomechanical elements, which in a heartbeat can disembowel its victim, “This brings us to the question,” says Scott, “what are the consequences of meeting a superior being whose capabilities are quantum leaps beyond one’s own?”
Or to put in the words of the famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be similar to when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”
Published In The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2012.