Audiences were somewhat divided over Ridley Scott's Prometheus, a dark sci-fi film that serves triple-duty as a gory original monster-movie, a loose prequel to the Alien franchise and high-concept theorizing about the origins of life on Earth. Despite the mixed response to the actual movie, few criticized Prometheus for its willingness to explore issues of science vs. faith, within the larger context of the Alien movie property that Scott helped to create nearly forty years ago.
Scott's new film, Alien: Covenant now seeks to continue the Prometheus storyline, but with a more direct connection to the original Alien. According to Covenant costar Billy Crudup, those themes of science vs. religion in Prometheus will likewise continue to be a major focus of the followup.
During Screen Rant's visit to the Covenant set, Crudup - who plays first mate and chief science officer Christopher Oram in the film - offered some insight into his Covenant character's backstory and worldview. He spoke in significant detail about Oram's upbringing and how that helped to shape his own perspective on the nature of the universe:
"[Oram] was raised in a Pentecostal household, which is interesting to think about in the future. But I think what he recognized was there was a duplicity in the fundamentalism there. I think he was treated very roughly. It's a very penal belief system and structure, and it's also one that has come under fire culturally over the past twenty years or so several times, for leading members of the church acting in an outwardly duplicitous way. I think for Oram the combination of it being familiar and him wanting to reject it, made him seek out his own faith, his own belief system. As somebody who uses their mind in their occupation, is a rationalist in some ways, I think he's come to the conclusion that there's a fairly low probability that the universe was created without some kind of creative engine. So he chooses to believe that that creative engine had at the very least some form of humanity in mind as a part of an evolutionary step, but some kind of being that can reflect upon the majesty of the universe. "
However, while Oram's relationship with his own faith will be a key part of his development in Covenant, Crudup believes that it will inform the role and the broader film beyond being only a plot point:
"He probably believes that everybody is an agent of God in some ways and should celebrate the majesty of creation in living a creative life. But when you talk that way all the time, you tend to put people off. So I think that's one of the reasons why he's alienated [Laughs] Eh? It just comes to me. No, from the crew in some way. His wife, however, understands the complexities and I think there's -- you can be ostracized in the scientific community for feelings of faith. Not across the board, but there is a strong driving force for empirical evidence, so in the absence of empirical data of a god who is interested in humans, I think many scientists would say well when that comes along I will believe with you, but in the meantime lets talk about what we can experience and what is being experienced."
That Covenant will be exploring themes of religious beliefs and faith has been clear for some time, going back to when the movie was originally titled Alien: Paradise Lost (as a reference to John Milton's Biblical poem, Paradise Lost). The trailer marketing for Covenant has continued to hit upon similar ideas, with the most recent theatrical trailer even including an ominous tagline for the spaceship Covenant crew's arrival on a seemingly paradise-like planet in the movie - namely, "The path to paradise begins in hell."
- Alien: Covenant (2017) release date: May 19, 2017