Prometheus, director Ridley Scott’s triumphant return to sci-fi cinema, has ignited a firestorm of discussion here at Screen Rant over everything from the quality of the film (our own Ben Kendrick gave it 4.5/5 stars) to its connection to the Alien series.
Fortunately, the new book Prometheus: The Art of the Film has some answers. (Note that I said some, not all. If you want to really talk about the movie, check out our Prometheus spoilers discussion.) It also has lots of amazing, high-resolution pictures from the film, as well as Ridley Scott’s hand-drawn storyboards and a plethora of concept art.
If you haven’t seen Prometheus yet, you should probably stop reading here as I’ll be getting into some SPOILER territory. However, if you have seen the movie and thought it was amazing, keep reading, because you’re probably going to want this book on your shelf.
The book kicks off with a very enjoyable interview with Ridley Scott entitled “A Return to Science-Fiction,” in which the famous director discusses his long desire to come back to the world of Alien. As you might know from previous posts here at Screen Rant, including our interview with Scott, the film was originally intended to be a direct sequel to Alien. However, as the story evolved, Scott became less interested in the xenomorphs and more interested in the engineers – the god-like aliens that seeded life on earth.
As Scott explains in the book:
“I think in four films, honestly, the good old Alien has worn out. He’s no longer frightening. In one of the films, he was trapped inside caskets of glass. Before he was indestructible and was ungraspable. So I think he was used up and you’ve got to move on… so let’s come up with something else. So what becomes much bigger is the idea of us being pre-visited by people, let’s say creatures, who are humanoid and are way in advance of us. They’re not so much frightening, except by their own superiority – they’re frightening in what they bring with them as part of their bag of tricks, which are their weapons capabilities, and what they can do to an environment and a planet, stuff which we could never even conceive of.”
You can argue that that approach ended up hurting the film and a few simple tweaks could have made the Alien connection much clearer and more enjoyable, but Scott’s cogent thoughts on the matter are good enough for me.
One thing that, in my opinion, isn’t up for debate is the impressive visuals of Prometheus, and that’s where Prometheus: The Art of the Film really shines. Featuring a concise but incredibly rich interview with production designer Arthur Max and hundreds of pages of art and behind-the-scenes photos, the book gives a lot of insight into how Ridley Scott and his team set out to make the world of Prometheus unique while retaining the DNA of the original Alien films.
Max’s comments on Swiss artist H.R. Giger, whose bio-mechanical designs earned him an Academy Award for Alien, should be particularly interesting for Alien fans. Max and Scott both knew that Giger’s designs were considered practically sacred by fans of the series, but they also wanted to do something new. The result was an interesting mix that was “less bio and more mechanoid.”
“We decided to keep a consistency in the design language, still keep the form, but to do a cleaner version. It’s still very much a child born out of his vision, and we want to retain that.”
Another interesting discovery in the book is that many of Prometheus‘ designs, including the bridge of the Prometheus, were inspired by unused concept art from the original Alien film, which further strengthens the underlying connection between the films.
Anyway, I could keep going on and on, but then you’d have no reason to check out the book for yourself. And what’s the point of that? Suffice it to say, if you’re a fan of Prometheus, it would be a good investment to buy Prometheus: The Art of the Film.