Let’s put aside the debate between science and religion when it comes to the origins of life, because Prometheus director Ridley Scott’s return to the science-fiction genre after three decades brings a whole new option to the table of how humans came to be.
“It’s about humanity in the future challenging some of our most cherished scientific and philosophic ideas,” notes screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Star Trek, Lost).
But it wouldn’t be a complex story if the film simply explored the idea of where life began. As it turns out, after making a two-year journey to the planet where our “makers” are thought to be dwelling, motives and individual interests begin to show themselves among the crew of the space ship, Prometheus.
“We named the ship Prometheus as a reference to the character in Greek mythology,” Scott explains. “He was instrumental in changing the entire evolution of mankind. He also angered the gods in a big way and suffered mercilessly for it.”
This Prometheus is on its voyage thanks to a discovery made by scientists Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), which supports their previous finds from ancient civilizations that all point to the same location in distant space. Shaw and Holloway share the same goal – find our “makers” and get to the root of humanity. But their motivations in the mission have stark differences. Shaw is a hardcore believer, who truly wants to meet the “gods” who created us, hoping for a religious experience of sorts. Holloway takes a more skeptic route and fully expects to debunk any spiritual notions – his disappointments evident in this scene from the film after discovering the “gods” they came looking for seem to have fallen victim to some level of extinction.
Marshall-Green shares that scene with Michael Fassbender as David, an android created by the corporation Weyland Industries, the company that funded the entire mission. David is programmed for very specific purposes, though a more “human” side of him peeks through, throwing into question his actual agenda.
“David is programmed to help the human crew members,” says Lindelof. “But he thinks the mission, in and of itself, is ridiculous because he’s in the company of his creators – humans – and he’s completely and totally unimpressed with them.”
“He is jealous and arrogant,” adds Fassbender, “because he realizes that his knowledge is all encompassing and therefore he is superior to the humans. David wants to be acknowledged and praised for his brilliance, yet nobody gives him the time of day. They don’t accept David and that upsets him. And like a child, David can be very bold in the decisions that he makes.”
Along with David, Weyland executive Meredith Vickers is also on board representing the company’s mysterious interests.
“Vickers is pragmatic, and desperately wants to control the situation,” says Academy Award® winner Charlize Theron, who plays her. “She fights everything that everyone else is there to do, and it becomes evident that she has either an alternative agenda or that she is hiding something.”
“When Shaw and Holloway conceived the mission, their expectation was they would discover a benevolent species that might provide answers to some of our greatest mysteries,” says executive producer Michael Ellenberg. “But these being prove to be anything but compassionate. They are a dangerous race of superbeings.”
If the story, plot and setting weren’t already larger-than-life enough, the enormous scope and scale of the production, with its impressive CGI and 3D, truly gives the movie its “out of this world” touch. Literally.
“[Ridley Scott’s vision] is daring, visceral and the last thing anyone expects,” Lindelof says.
Scott sums it up quite well. “After you’ve seen Prometheus,” he says, “you will have experienced something completely unexpected.”
Prometheus is rated R, runs 124 minutes and is currently in standard theaters, 3D and IMAX nationwide.