This is a full analysis of the Alien prequel, Prometheus. This implies that this article is the most horrendous spoiler-fest possible. If you don’t like spoilers before seeing a quality/SFX laden/thick plotline movie, I suggest you first go and see Prometheus before reading this rather lengthy article. As should be clear, I have been suffering from Stockholm syndrome for some decades regarding the first Alien, and I have been somewhat obsessed with the movie for decades. I have all the Alien background books, tried making alien sculptures, have dozens and dozens of giger-esque alien drawings and studied them well. I am aware that Ridley Scott (the best movie director alive) won’t like these elaborate story analysis at all, but he made his statement and he’ll have to swallow it I suppose.
Here is another cursory breakdown of Prometheus. If you have suggestions or additional observations to share, feel free to email me with cursory and minimalist sets of suggestions, and how I would best go about adding them here, or otherwise share/reflect on them.
First my analysis starts with the Prometheus web site, which clearly established a foundation for the movie and the franchise. From this franchise it should be taken that Aliens and Alien3 are part of the franchise, whereas Alien4 should be regarded as an apocryphal (and a somewhat silly) extrapolation on the genre. I’d go as far as completely bin Alien4, not too mention to spectacularly infantile Alien versus Predator series. If the alien infection depicted in Prometheus were to affect Earth, the planet would be sterile in days to weeks. The Prometheus contamination is almost as virulent (if somewhat more slow-paced) than The Thing (do see respective original and prequel), but I would not regard these infections as faintly dissimilar. In fact, looking at the vessel in The Thing I see a conceptual similarity. I’d leave it at that, as I would not want to raise the specter of these two movie franchises interlocking. Good Heavens, please don’t! …
The Prometheus Website affirms the aliens design choices, but greatly expands over that. It establishes that by the end of the 21st century there are interstellar colonies (which were well in to the process of being colonized and terraformed by the mid 21st century!) with inhabitants numbering in the millions. This is an extremely fast colonization rate, assuming thousands of ships (many considerably bigger than the Prometheus vessel) holding tens of thousands of colonists. This assumes that were you to live on Earth you’d actually notice its brightest minds emigrate at an alarming pace. If by 2100 the Earth population were to have stagnated at ten billion (current UN guesstimates are over nine), some hundred million at the very least would be getting ready to emigrate by the time of the Prometheus movie – which is “not implausible” looking at the massive bulk of the Nostromo and its attendant refinery platforms – the platforms are so big they could easily hold half a million people in cryostasis.
I need to remind all of that other remarkable Scott movie – Blade Runner – for which Sir Ridley is also planning a prequel. Blade Runner uses the same themes for the Alien franchise; in fact I can easily envision Blade Runner taking place precisely at the timeframe for Alien1, around 2120. If so, the technology in Blade Runner would be a bit underwhelming. But we have noticed that in that particular future private humans do not rate high on the corporatist investment flowcharts.
The movie assumes the Weyland corporation started settling space uncannily soon, maybe as soon as the late 2020s (in our lifetime!), and somehow was able to develop FTL travel just a decade after. And then being able to construct truly massive structures in space, to facilitate interstellar travel. Looking at the Alien/aliens trail of statements we see some pretty despicable devaluation of human life, corporatization and fascism. I could claim that Alien and Aliens literally contributed to this cynical dystopian mindset in the actual world. Most certainly the brass at the actual Pentagon would have had a serious hardon after watching the original Aliens. That one was beyond prophetic in many ways.
I won’t assume someone will be an asshole and reshoot (rape/starwarsify) the original Alien, so I have to take that one as literal, including the almost steampunk 1970s quality of some designs and the technology. However – take a stroll on a modern cargo ship, and you’d see much the same rickety stuff you’d also see in the 1950s. Outwardly technology doesn’t need to change all that much (or needs much “glitz” factor) when it becomes boring and mundane.
* Prometheus 2 Script Is In The Works Says Noomi Rapace
* (!) Prometheus demystified
* Prometheus Actually Explained
* Quentin Tarantino Says Prometheus Had Some Dumb Stuff In It
* Deleted scenes.
* NY Times regarding Prometheus Design
* The Messiah on Prometheus
* IO9 – 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Making of Prometheus
* The Making Of Book
* Prometheus Reddit
* Classic Sci-Fi Cameos in Prometheus
* One Theory That Finally Explains What’s Going on in Prometheus
* Prometheus FAQ
* Hulk examines PROMETHEUS and Damon Lindelof’s debilitating fixation
* Alien 1 message – would this be Engineers talking?
* CG Society special effects issue
* Ethic Modernity review
* Reddit discussion 1
* Reddit discussion
* What David said to the Engineer
* The abridged script
* Scott Interview
* The Ten Worst Science Fiction Films of All Time: ‘Prometheus’
* David Spoof
* Youtube reference
* IGN on Ridley Scott
* Musical spoilerfest
* Aliens Timeline
* Analysis by Eugene (kinda unscientific)
* Prometheus visual breakdown
* Human genome contains “alien” DNA.
* How Prometheus forces us to examine humanity
* Youtube explanation
* Concept Art by David Levy
* SFX Article
* “Elder Engineers”
* Prometheus 2: Prometheuses gets the green light
Prometheus Alien Analysis
* STILL UNTITLED: THE ADAM SAVAGE PROJECT #6 – PROMETHEUS
* Prometheus Deleted Scene Reveals Grisly Unused Creature Designs
* Ridley Scott on Prometheus.
* Yes… engineer cosplay.
* Behind the scenes engineer scenes
* What did Damon Lindelof add to Prometheus? The Biggest Differences from the Original Draft
* Comicbook girl makes some comments, 2, 3
* The anatomy of the Xenomorph
* Prometheus Deleted Scenes
A lengthy shot of Earth, ten thousands of years before civilization. The landscape is empty and savage. There are no signs of humanity anywhere. The scene depicts the virgin earth, and especially a region with very little forestation. The scene then culminates over a waterfall. Over the waterfall serenely floats a round shape suggestive of being a flying saucer.
As far as I can see this shape hovers over the waterfall without some form of thrusters, which suggests the Engineer species have a means to make structures float by virtue of some convenient and obligatory anti-gravity technology. A sullen cloaked figure, with more than a casual hint of biblical unnuendo comes in to view, who walks to the edge of the waterfall. We only see that this person is close to human or humanoid, based on how it walks, and it is clear the being has an imposing quality. He’s probably quite tall. (And actually, he is not alone…)
And therefore there’s two questions in the film: the guy at the beginning is simply donating himself – no stranger than the Aztecs or Incas would choose some poor bugger, at the beginning saying, “Right, you’re it, in the year you get all the girls you want, all the food you want, blah blah, and at the end of the year we’re going to take your heart, take it out, squeeze it, and we’re going to get jolly good crops and good weather next year.” It’s no more than that, he’s into a form of donation, except his DNA is so powerful, each molecule is like a timebomb.
– Ridley Scott
Deleted Scene: Arrival Of The Engineers [2:31] |
This is an alternative opening which shows an Elder Engineer handing the Sacrifice Engineer the dark liquid. Several other Engineers can be seen standing in the background. There is some slightly different editing and the sequence showing the Engineer disintegrating is slightly longer. When he falls into the water, the sequence where the cells are dividing is slightly longer. This deleted scene was changed because they wanted to keep the Engineers more mysterious.
The being comes in to view in a charismatic close-up shot which depicts the being as distinctively male, hairless, having a waxy and immaculate skin, and being very close to the human physiology. Well, in the past we greatly enjoyed the “na’vi” porn. Now it’s only a matter of time before we get Engineer porn. Rule 34, squared.
The “engineer” watches upwards with no particularly affect visible and watches the huge saucer-like vessel drift up gently into the clouds above. My estimate is that the vessel is hundreds of meters in diameter. The suggestion is – the engineer was dropped from the vessel, and this is all planned. The Engineer is performing with simplistic yet somewhat ceremonial intent a specific act. He lays down an object.
On closer inspection this object is a stone chalice with an intricately market top. The “engineer” then disrobes. Note the engineer wears a loincloth, which suggests a taboo on full nudity. Also note the engineer is immaculately hairless, and while an anatomically idealized shape for the human masculine ideal, he is also quite pale. We later learn this creature is well above seven feet in size.
Mostly dis-robed, the engineer then lifts the object (urn, container, vessel, vase, jar) he laid down, with a very deliberate and grave intent. The music accompanying the scene also suggests gravity and ancient importance of this event. The Engineer then removes what appears the top of the container, and inside is an animate ooze of some sort. Upon opening the lid there is a very subtle (hiss) suggesting the container was sealed, and after opening the material inside seems to respond to the open environment, as if “getting ready” for something. The suggestion is the material inside is an infectant of sorts.
The engineer then lifts the chalice and as we can see while it is lifted the animate material inside has flowed around the cup and is transforming in nature into something partially fluid or worm-like. It looks to me as if the substance is dangerous. Yet the Engineer is deliberate in his motions and lifts the cup to his mouth.
With a minute hint of disgust or hesitation the Engineer then imbibes the substance. The Engineer does not seem to be afraid or concerned at what is to come next, and there is ample reason to conclude he knows perfectly well what he is doing. The Engineer is basicly committing a painful and visibly unpleasant form of suicide by imbibing the stuff. He seems to feels a momentary spark of pain. The engineer is then permeated with a black animate toxin that in a matter of seconds disintegrates his body. As he watches the saucer (or cigar?) shaped vessel ascend away from him, he exhibits a very brief glance that might be regret or melancholy, but the Engineer is now set on an inescapable doom. As his body falls prey to what can only be a very quickly operating (and extremely aggressive) “grey goo” nanoid, the Engineers body rots, collapses, his limbs turn to mush, and he tumbles forward into the waterfall.
The scene strongly suggests the Engineer purposefully chose to die this way in order to have his ‘genetic material’ infect the waterfall and what appears to be planet Earth, in an undetermined primordial past. Note that the substance turns the body of the Engineer into a fine spray of black material. Also note the ‘infection’ spreads primarily along the bones and spinal area.
The scene strongly suggests that from His perspective the Engineer engaged in a sacrificial, purposeful and almost sacred act where the suicide of his physical body would have a desired impact on the planet.
The movie titles open with cells coagulating again, suggesting that somehow this death contributes to new (human?) life on the planet. The death of the Engineer might have been an act of colonization, spreading humanity on this planet. Since there were already hominids on the planet, the conclusion should be that this metaphor ties in to the Nephilim meme, but this would be my interpretation. Engineers couldn’t have initiated life – there has been life on the planet for a a billion year as evidences by geologic data. There have been primates for millions of years – this intervention would have occurred (as suggested by the further narrative) in the tens of thousands of years ago. In effect the “Engineers” would be something like an “uplifted” version of primordial humanity, and this still leaves the story open to the actual engineers – who should’t have been humans at all. There are several other explanations (life being seeded over tens or hundreds of millions of years ranges) but that would extend the movie narrative well into the “Lovecraftian” ranges of the cosmicist and transcendent.
So my conclusion is that the Engineers we see depicted here are uplifts, created by something considerably inhuman, with the purpose of acting like some sort of interface between the ‘Meta-Engineers’, and the emerging terrestrial ecology. If my interpretation of the imagery so far is correct, these hypothetical ‘meta-engineers’ would have complex (and potentially contradictory and evolving) plans with humanity. Note that it is not certain at all (though quite likely) that these plans include extermination – in fact; these hypothetical ‘meta-engineers’ might have uplifted humanity once, and the events in the Prometheus movie may have been the dormant stage of a consequtive uplift (albeit one that would have killed or severely changed humanity). Note that in a vaguely similar themed (and pretty much awful) movie Skyline the same potential is evidenced – aliens take humans and don’t all kill them – they take humans and ruthlessly ‘upgrade’ all of humanity, accepting “some percentage loss of the crop”. The Engineers may have well been a bio-robot servitor species programmed (much like the replicants of Blade Runner – notice that the nails of the Engineer look eerily similar to the nails of Roy Batty). Also note that the default body of the terrestrial (ancient) Engineer is fully human-like, and the Engineer encountered later in the movie is most certainly not a comparable entity. It’ll explain why later.
I am already receiving quite stimulating email responses, and I will mesh in these responses in my review/analysis as I go along. Yes, this review moves well in to the OCD ranges, but well, I just dearly love the franchise and original movie. Regard it as a voucher of considerable respect.
Human hands are opening a sandy hole, holding a recognizable flash light. This scene affirms that there are still humans in the year 2080 living in a culturally recognizable Earth. People were fairly recognizable clothes and use fairly recognizable tools.
One of the most promising actresses of our age shows her stunning and infectious smile through the cracked sandstone, indicating discovery and ensuing enthusiasm. The shot indicates her discovery has been hard-won and arduous.
Here is where Ridley Scott rakes up the scenic shots again.
I need to emphasize three things at this stage – One: Ridley wanted to affirm that Earth is still mostly a primordial and beautiful place in the 2080s, and not wholly covered with industrial dystopian landscape or environmental collapse. Two: The 3D really worked for me in the cinema, and it was more subtle than in that other 3D movie, ‘avatar’. Three – this scene depicts tents and technology which is not “oppressively” advanced over 2012 technology. Which raises a large number of interesting observations in itself. Note that from this scene one might conclude there is more “visible” progress in consumer goods between 1970 and 2010 than between 2012 and 2080, while the storyline does claim that in by 2090 there are literally millions of people living on interstellar colonies. This is an interesting juxtaposition of factoids. I leave this for others to comment in, if they care.
The scruffy looking explorers enter a “hole in the ground” and find 35000 year old cave paintings which provide a tantalizing new twist to anthropological understanding. The music suggests wonder and admirable scientific progress in this field. The main character, Elizabeth Shaw, is a believer and after this discovery she makes considerable effort selling her ideas to Mr. Wayland.
The scene allows us to realize there is a scientific anomaly of cosmic consequences in these cave paintings – the wall paintings in the barren island cave depict a configuration of stars which is ‘somehow’ distinctive for other archaeological discoveries, and which would somehow suggest that early humanity was in some manner influenced by extra-planetary visitors. The “strange configuration” is said to predate “the others” by a millennium. Also it becomes clear the two characters, Elizabeth and Charlie Holloway, are romantically involved, which might add a degree of normalcy and innocence about these two characters. With tears in her eyes Elizabeth utters “I think they want us to come and find them”.
This whole “coming and finding” endeavour occurs several years later, indicating the actual voyage was quite a project in itself. The scene shows a minute speck moving against the stellar backdrop, cutting through an endless void. The speck is the Prometheus, an interstellar vessel.
Why is the ship called Prometheus?|
It’s a Weyland in-joke, tied to the concept of science allowing men to be gods, as outlined in his TED talk.
Scott says… “The title was really a metaphor for a being challenging the gods. In a funny kind of way, that’s what this story is about.
“The platform is fundamentally about who made us and if they aren’t gods, who made them?
“It’s discussing that chain of events that actually represents all of creation.”
This vessel is somewhat smaller than the Nostromo, which is depicted in the Alien movie. Whereas the Nostromo is a rickety, cheap-ass refitted tug boat with a shitload of raw thrust (it is supposed to haul a 20++ million ton refinery platform all the way to earth from far beyond the planet Acheron (or LV-426), which is itself a ridiculously massive 1200km moonlet, with a staggering .86 earth standard gravity and a dense primordial atmosphere sporting a remarkably high concentration of Oxygen. Most exo-biologists now suggest that planets don’t have oxygen naturally, since oxygen bonds itself, so in essence Oxygen suggests a specific category of life. In comparison, most of Earth’s geological history there was no free Oxygenation, and the gradual accumulation of Oxygen had major tectonic implications, where seas and whole continents literally changes in fundamental physiology as oxygen started to bond with free oceanic and tectonic iron. So as far as I can conclude, having a high percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere is an planetary anomaly.
“Say to them: ‘For the generations to come, if any of your descendants is ceremonially unclean and yet comes near the sacred offerings that the Israelites consecrate to the LORD, that person must be cut off from my presence. I am the LORD.” –Leviticus 223
Note the captivating splendor of the shot as the Prometheus rakes down towards the gas giant satelite LV-223, piercing the very heavy cloud layer. Apocryphal statements suggest the system sporting both (unconfirmed) planets are some 40 light years from Earth. Note that the movie distinctly makes clear this planet is not LV-426, which raises the troubling question why the derelict found in the Alien movie is deposited in such an uncannily similar manner as the crashlanded derelict vessel in the movie Prometheus – and more poignantly – who the hell was flying the Alien1 Derelict? Note that it would be literally possible that the vessel found in the movie Alien might contain the fossilized remains of Elizabeth Shaw in the containment carapace we have all come to call “The Jockey”, with the head of David perched in her lap. This would be a somewhat silly idea, but who knows where the consequtive movies will take us? It would even allow for the possibility that the colonists of the Aliens movie would have retreived these same remains of Elizabeth Shaw, sporting some lethal damage to her rib cage. Let’s hope any subsequent movies will not explore this somewhat banale contingency.
We see the Prometheus vessel streak across an unfathomable interstellar gulf of absolute nothingness to here. The distance is ‘about’ 350,047,027,485,489.6 kilometers. 350 quadrillion kilometers. Which is an absurd distance. Now I confirm that the vessel has four pretty powerful engines but even accelerating at 10 standard gravity the voyage can never take less than 37 years (the cosmic maximum speed). Hence the vessel uses some kind of FTL travel, which the weyland buff page has some statement on:
As the first-ever FTL space exploration vehicle, Heliades revolutionized the known galaxy. Dual FTL engines are driven by a 2.1 terrawatt RL fusion reactor. The ability to provide molecularly stable transport for ship components and human crew over light-years of space gives Weyland explorers, scientists and planetary engineers access to regions never before imagined. ICC-certified and compliant, our newest flagship model has a payload capacity of up to 9 megatonnes and a redesigned airframe and features a medical bay, lab facilities, and over a dozen HES-compatible chambers.
Note that in the franchise there is some differentiation on travel times, but over all travel times seem to be reducing. My most simple interpreting thesis is that vessels in the Aliens universe create a large transitional phase bubble where the speed of light is higher than in surrounding space. Let’s conveniently ignore that FTL travel may create temporal paradoxes in an Einsteinian universe (I like the Avatar setting far better in this regard; it doesn’t have FTL). The very heavy Nostromo (tug plus refinery complex) is far faster than the Prometheus; it takes just under a year to travel from Solomons to Earth. I presume the undocked Nostromo would be quite a bit quicker without the gargantuan rig. The Aliens vessel “Sulaco” takes weeks. The Prometheus takes two years. Clearly either the FTL effect is quickly advancing, OR the propulsion thrust is improving (and the accelerative distortion bubble still has the same features). This is all fairly academic, but since we never see much “warp effects” till the (what I regard as nonsensical) Alien4, I reserve judgement. Note that the vessels in the Aliens series nowhere have to “decelerate” (i.e. point their thrusters towards the destination point). Also there is no indication where exactly these vessels can jump out of the FTL drive effect. This is a profoundly important matter for warfare purposes – if an interstellar enemy can hyper-accelerate masses in the many million ton ranges, and then move them in to FTL with full conservation of energy, and then jump out of FTL within light seconds of an inhabited planetary system… it would not make much sense to settle planets. The first armed conflict would have deadlier consequences than nuclear war – a many million ton object accelerated for a while at several G would rip the crust of a planet on impact. Worse, the fusion propulsion engine powerful enough to propel a vessel this much would blast the atmosphere of a planet.
The supralight drive is a Yutani T7A NLS tachyon shunt which is capable of unladen high cruise up to 0.42 ly per sidereal day (153 cee). When it is towing large amounts of cargo such as automated refineries, the maximum sustainable cruise speed drops radically, about 0.1-0.12 ly per sidereal day (40-45 cee). For maneuvering at sublight speeds when towing large amounts of cargo, the immensely powerful mass reaction engines are required. On the Nostromo, the original Saturn J-3000 engines have been replaced to two Rolls-Royce N66 Cyclone thrust tunnels with bipolar vectoring for midline lifting functions. Each of the powerplants develop a 65,830 metric ton of thrust, using water for reaction mass. When running wide open, both of the engines give a high impulse thrust totaling of 131,660 kN.
I just love the technical expertise of Ron Cobb.. Truly stunning.
My humble conclusion for Alien universe propulsion (and some 30+ years of science fiction is in this conclusion, feel free to disagree) is that the Aliens universe “increased C” FTL bubble works better the further removed from a mass. At hundreds of billions of kilometers from any system star (mass) it works optimal – at tens of billions (i.e. kuyper belt range) it starts collapsing gradually to zero. This explanation would allow for issues such as “sensible conservation of energy, etc.) and allow for a somewhat rational universe. It does however mean that at “several G sustained thrust” a vessel such as the Nostromo would still lose quite a bit of travel time getting into the inner system. But at least it would give defenders time to deflect any incoming huge blocks of ballistic ordnance aimed at inhabited planets. Trust me, these things would be important for the continued franchise. An SS Auriga slamming in to Earth at full speed would sterilize even the tectonic bacteria.
Let’s conclude from the scene involving the late 2080s model human-replicating android “David” that this creature is intellectually vastly superior to any human being. The sequence of shots depicting the “gentle caretaker” David is awe inspiring to anyone who regards the evidence. While clearly androids are not particularly (more) physically robust (than humans), as evidenced how routinely they are torn and smashed to bits in all Alien franchise movies, I am curious how “armoured” military versions of these androids might function. In essence it should be perfectly possible for the Aliens universe to assume completely militarized (and functionally non-humanoid) combat models with the mental capacity of David – and these things would be vastly more superior to humans in relatively equitable confrontations. The androids are however a bit autistic in their approach, but throughout the movie David is constantly following orders of the humans, even though the instructions end up turning the humans in to mincemeat. I’ll comment on David’s attitudes later on.
The android David is a marvel of suggestion (and intimidating as f**k acting). There is are two monsters in the movie, and David is one of them. Yet also, David is a complete and utter tragedy. This being briskly walks in to scene four, strolling about for several years as janitor on an abandoned interstellar vessel, “keeping himself busy” picking up small bits of flaked dirt. Clearly humans are as important as they are fragile – they occasionally die in 2090 state of the art hypersleep. Miss Vickers inquires ‘did anyone die’, which suggests that between 2090 and 2120 there is a substantial drop in hypersleep fatility (and nausea); probably in the late 21st century hypersleep fatalities are still in the 0.01 to 0.1 percentile range. Not as dangerous as a tour of duty to Afghanistan in 2012, but still of considerable concern. The monitoring by David of the dormant crew is meticulous and invasive. What I find terrifying is that the crew dreams during hypersleep. I have no idea why the director chose to have that odd aspect included. My gut reaction is to have the crew in a fully comatose or even near-dead stasis state. This was explained (and rationalized) far far better in the avatar movie, where stasis required the passengers to literally be loaded with regenerative biomedical nanoids. In both avatar and the aliens franchise the crew awaken with no discernible hair growth, which seems vaguely contradictory with sustained brain activity during the hibernation state, but whatever.
What purpose did the dream sequence serve?|
The golden rule in screenwriting is to show, not tell.
We’re massive fans of Prometheus, but we can understand the criticism that the film has too many mysteries.
And we think that’s because there was too much showing, and not enough telling.
This scene is a great example.
It makes perfect sense when it’s explained in the commentary by Scott, but the film makes literally no mention of a concept that no audience member would be able to guess this early in the narrative (most people would have put it down to foreshadowing, and would end up disappointed that it doesn’t have a pay-off).
“It was my thought that as and when cryogenics become successful, which I guess they might at some point, that because the brain is a muscle, you better keep that brain working during the state of hibernation, and therefore, maybe what you do is psychologically list, with the right doctor, psychologist, a number of dreams that can then be somehow captured in your mind state enabling your muscle to exercise itself during the time that you’re asleep,” Scott says.
“So I thought that was a pretty interesting idea. It sounds vaguely logical. Whether it is or not, I don’t know.”
The android David has full arbitrary access to invade in to the dreams of his wards. In other words – the sponsoring corporate element trusts these machines to a very great extent with not merely safety, but equally with privacy issues. There seems to be no confidence issues as David plays peeking tom in the very private core of human beings, which seems an interesting sociological adaptation to the reality of these androids. We see some of this attitude reverse in the Aliens movie, set some 60 years later – and still the relative value or frequency of these devices was significant enough as to be “remarkable” aboard a rickety trawler such as the Nostromo. But the presence of David forms a truly fabulous philosophical/horror/plot device in the Aliens series. I truly love these aliens androids.
As a side note – in the later Alien and Alien3, the Ripley character is familiar enough with the internal ‘cirquitry’ of these androids as to make casual (and rather brutish) jury rig repairs to both the Ash head and Bishop shredded torso. So the technology for androids in the original Alien movie is not “esoteric” to the crew of the Nostromo.
My analysis is these androids must be a device that is created without as yet fully understanding the finer aspects of the human physiology. Aliens franchise androids are remarkable Artificially Intelligent devices. The problem with A.I. is that these things quickly make humanity useless. Why not staff an entire vessel with these androids? Well there are somewhat satisfying explanatory mechanisms that keep the franchise somewhat credible – androids are not fully as smart as humans. They can masquerade behind a veneer of autism (the ash android is not trusted and treated with revulsion by the crew, as they clearly feel “something is wrong with this unmitigated asshole”) and even after a century of development and sustained use of these devices between Alien1 and Alien3, they are still error-prone, problematic, and “not fully human”. I’d regard these devices as analogous to Blade Runner replicants – they are the redshirts (expendables) of the Aliens universe, and they are only fairly superficial “idiot savant” emulations of the human state, where the creators create some sort of fascimile scanned reproduction of the human brain, a bit like a photocopy, without fully understanding the operational variables. They just “roughly” copy a human brain physiology (and, knowing the creators of the franchise, this probably having used live human brains of convicted felons in borderline moral experimentation) and “boot it up”. At any rate David is extremely smart in some of his conclusions, even though he still has the cliche Hollywood tin man clumsyness of ‘what we assume a humanoid android must eventually be like’. This is cinematics, drama and not actual science, but in a way it can be regarded as to make “some sort of sense”. It’s essentially Star Trek (and commander Data) all over again – use actors performances to create “distressing” and “horrible” feelings in the audience. To many “David” is scary as hell. And that’s OK, this makes him quite at home in a horror SF movie.
You know what I think? I think based on this scene that Ridley Scott had a bit of a crush on Noomi Rapace. I won’t go too deeply in to this personal intuition, but feel free to disagree. I won’t explain my observation. In the above pic we see David stand over Miss Shaw as she sleeps, using a very off helmet contraption. As far as I am concerned this is a bit odd – why don’t these androids make use of Data-jacks? Maybe this opens up too many difficult story permutations. Maybe (even the android) brain has not been been fully understood sufficiently to allow for direct neural interfaces in the Alien setting – and only in the ghastly alien4 we see Winona engage in a yucky (and distinctly mystical -slanted) interface act with the vessels main computing system, analogues to a shamanic act of “connecting with a remote higher reality”. This is ritualized in the alien movies – contacting the data systems in the Alien universe always works through some elaborate detachment – Dallas has to ascend to a shrine to reach mother, Bishop has to go through a virtual birth canal to reach the communications arrays and contact the Sulaco.
It is remarkable how much progress was made in colonizing stars, and yet how feeble the communications grids are when having arrived on those interstellar colonies. Of course Alien (1978) and Aliens (1986) would have been markedly different cinematic experiences made today, with the expectations of communication/computational means in 2012, but we have to somehow rationalize and make sense of what we see here.
Still – these augmented reality headsets David is wearing? I am not buying it. Maybe there is another explanation, and these are not “just” AR headsets, and maybe the neurology of the people in hypersleep is in fact dormant. There is another somewhat frightening possibility – maybe these headsets are not AR sets, but devices that can record the neurological patterns of a patient in hypersleep suspension for any decay effects – sort of like “forensically” reading the data on a computer that is switched off. This form of “quaint telepathy” would somehow tie in to the same mystical “deus ex machina” quality surrounding the Alien androids – almost as if they are golems, and their operation is an elusive and magical Chinese box – ‘we made the damn thing, they operate very good in some areas, but we don’t really have a clue how it actually works’.
Wow offensive scene. Very offensive in fact – a white person missionary, fully catholic visits “the third world primitives” on Earth. Let’s assume Elizabeth shaw is in her 30s – this is a scene happening somewhere in Asia (India), in ‘far away places where people still die of Ebola’, probably in the 2060s. This is a ridiculous retro-scene. The man is cooking over a fire with a pot in India, with his daughter nearby. Some fifty odd years after the year 2012. Witnessing a burial with detached “white man’s burden” reflection. Mommy dies, and later on daddy dies. In the 21st century of the Alien universe people still die in droves, and they still die prematurely of causes I can only hope to see completely eradicated in the actual world. The actual world is in rapid and mostly unpredictable flux, whereas the Alien universe up to episode 3 has been mostly a mix of 20th century “steam punk” retro elements, and uncanny yet “fickle” amazing advances. This is a very “manicured” set of assumptions about progress, and clearly one where the director maintains some form of contrived consistency over the Narrative.
The dialogue between father Shaw and daughter Shaw establishes that people are still in great uncertainty in the far 21st century (two generations from now – Elizabeth could be my great-grand daughter, “logistically”) about death. People still believe. People still argue over superstition – or over “what is sound science”. We see more of that later in the movie. We see that Elizabeth chose to believe something that at least in part ties in with Christianity. In this area David watches over the entombed body of Elizabeth, in essence anticipating her imminent resurrection.
As we witness David serenely go on his way through the Prometheus, we witness an emphasis of grace and perfection. David simply does not need humans. He would be just fine without humans, and his interest in humans is of such a detached character, he is more an undead mortician than a living being himself.
As far as we know David has been making the rounds through a vessel not much larger than the office spaces most people currently work. The vessel may appear huge and labyrinthine, but frankly – it is a confined speck of real estate in a very menacing universe. The Prometheus is a considerably more confined and functional vessel than the Nostromo – one could get lost in the lower deck of the Nostromo. This also reflects in the estimated tonnage of both vessels; the Nostromo tug is estimated to weigh 63,000 metric tons (78000 by other estimates), whereas the Prometheus is estimated at 23.000 ton. The Nostomo has three decks, of which the lower decks look like places where you can contract tetanus. However – the decks of the Tug are quite a bit more claustrophobic. Tricky comparison.
Now.. if I could make a ‘recording’ of the mental processes of what David experiences in the months he’s up and about engaging in his janitorial fetishes, if it were able to somehow “experience” what David is feeling, the one thing I would probably notice is a total lack of boredom. David is clearly a pretty advanced sentience. He can reflect and he is capable of deception. He may have a rather skewed morality, but clearly he has honor and a sense of duty. He makes value judgements and he makes excruciatingly weighed decissions. Clearly the single message of Ridley Scott in this movie is central to the dynamic of “creation”. Ridley must be aware of Singularitarianism, Transhumanism and the difficult discussion surrounding Artificial Intelligence. David may be a fairly gregarious A.I., he sure as fuck is a failure in terms of “friendly”. David does not “seem” to function to how I would want it to operate under the extreme abstractions of the narrative of the movie Prometheus. His choices “breaks down”, in an outside observer context, and the only person making the absolutely perfect human (sentient) decisions, from the most rational spectator objective is Elizabeth Shaw. Shaw has an appreciation for long term implications which David clearly does not.
Contemplating the speculatory angle of The Engineers, Meta Engineers, the difference between ancient Engineers and the BioRoid Engineers (see later), I must conclude that humanity, and especially self-evident psychopathic autocrats such as Peter Weyland (Mister Hubris) is facing the same miserable conclusions – who gets to decide on the value systems of artificially intelligent servants – and what if we make all the right choices, and the result is by any standard a monster, or acts in a monstrous manner. Because – I can guarantee you – even the most friendly A.I. will do rational and very loving things, that will then prove to be terrifying to humans. Think about it – David can function for months in an enclosed space smaller than the place you work. 24 hours a day. I have no reason to assume David would indulge in an extravagant sleep cycle, for instance. David eating seems on to have a rudimentary quality.
David playing ball seems to be more a diagnostic routine than actual play. For David any play is a functional algorithm, and there is no sense of wonder or mystery or amusement about his pursuits. There is only duty, and a perverse sense to obey humanity. So when I wonder IF the experiences of David can be transplanted in my mind (a la project brainstorm) and if so, can I make sense of them, or would they somehow infect me with an autistic disorder? Note that David sends “progress reports” to Earth, and checks for updates. Apparently Earth regards the antics of David on board the Prometheus as not worthy of response, and he seems scarcely disappointed. “Transmitting Message… No Response…”. Yes he did in fact convey Elizabeths most private thoughts and dreams to Earth.
Have a look at the main cargo hold belly section of the Prometheus. It’s smaller than the corresponding section in the Nostromo, and more utilitarian. Treadmills and basketball hoop add a somewhat cliche touch.
The food David imbibes puzzles me and adds to the thesis that David is in many parts a human analogue, and that in essence Weyland corporation scanned humans, and engineered something similar, without fully understanding it (or being able to reserve engineer it). In many ways David functions superior to humans. In several other ways David is a retard and a simpleton, or at least we are led to conclude this.
Eating food. Well, clearly, the Alien androids are human analogues. I do not see many robotics in the Alien universe. Even in the late 21st century powerloaders exist. This is basicly saying – “we rather grow or use humans as raw material, because the multitudes of humanity are cheaper to sustain than equivalent androids such as David”. This seems weird. If I were Weyland corporation, I’d rather have the amazing hand-eye coordination of these androids controlling these powerloaders.
Consider the massive conception rift between (a) powerloader infrastructures, (b) humans and (c) hyperdyne androids. Looking at the construction, clearly humans and these androids are quite similar in feel. So why not conclude that androids are radically “leaned down” human analogue “slaves”? In that case, I can’t wait to see pleasure models in further iterations of the Alien universe. Besides, why not extrapolate a causal evolution between the Blade Runner models and the alien androids? The two are conceptually linked. They are essentially both a slave species, albeit the white-blooded variants being so completely volitionally.
Androids with organo-chemistry and physiology and metabolism makes sense. The question then becomes – is David eating human food? Ash certainly did. Ash was able to ingest human diets, even though that may have been pretence. In the later scene however we do see regular human crewmembers ingest the same green slime David is imbibing. My guess is that David eats a very lean diet of essential substances (probably a lot of sugars). It looks as if Bishop can regenerate minor wounds (he bleeds). Why would an android finger leak circulatory fluid unless that fluid served as regenerating/bonding agent, vis a vis circulatory (oxygen/cell fuel) material? Note that an android have do both – have emulated cell physiology as well as electro-mechanical actuators. Clearly David doesn’t need blood in his head – the brain mechanism works just fine without circulatory soup. Actually – I assume that all these features; breathing, eating, bleeding, soft skin, having intestinal shapes (etc) are only (merely) simulatory tools. The android needs organs to emulate being a human. Rather contrived – but it does make the androids rather interesting.
When the studio was contemplating making an alien4 I openly speculated about making Ripley an ‘unknowing’ android. Have her mind scanned and replicated in to an android shape. She would only find out halfway the movie “holy shit I am an android”, which would be an amazing movie horror motiff. Realizing you are nothing but a customized product – an accessory. The ultimate enslavement. Sounds pretty horrible to me, too bad they never used that theme. Weyland-Yutani could have – after alien1 they had full access for months to study Mrs. Ellen Ripley. Her unique expertise would have been of considerable use, especially after the stunt she pulled in Alien3. This theme would have been amazing in Alien3. Imagine Ripley seeing herself (instead of Bishop) walk up the fence at the end of Alien3. That would have been a powerful sales pitch – “See? I am walking, talking evidence we can keep you alive!”
The gradual learning process of David is somewhat peculiar in the post-Matrix era. But never mind me
But indeed, there is a thing to be said for learning by example and education. Maybe that’s the only way an emulated human mind such as David’s can actually learn and integrate new information in a meaningful manner. Note that David has a policy or an agenda in acquiring information. He has extrapolated insights far exceeding the insights of Elizabeth Shaw. David is already studying things Elizabeth seems naive of. I have the nagging suspicion (which Ridley Scott clearly cultivates in this movie) that Weyland corporation has more information about the Engineers than Elizabeth. In essence Elizabeth’s work pushed WY to act, and venture out to a “plausible” spot. This ties in with the Alien-versus-Predator message, which I would find somewhat distasteful. Weyland corporation seems to have a hidden agenda, basing its actions on “behind-the-scenes” information about the Engineers. Who is to tell what weyland could have extrapolated, with millions of androids like David doing proper scientific work? They had a century to do antropology, archaeology, study recently colonized alien planets. They may have found multiple artefacts of an alien origin, however subtle. Why did Weyland need to venture out to the LV-223 Engineer presence in person? Did he want to urgently make them a deal they wouldn’t refuse? Why was he in such a damn hurry?
Well I may have a few ideas on this for further episodes of the Alien franchise. Actually, when looking at it from a Cosmist/Cosmicist perspective. Think about it – Weyland-Yutani IS prometheus. Peter Weyland is a guy that single-handedly gave humanity Artificial Intelligence, space colonies, FTL travel, terraforming and then some. Peter Weyland has a superiority syndrome. He considers himself beyond common morality. Regard the statements he made at Ted2023 and the (somewhat tragic) statements he makes at the end of Prometheus – why the hell would a decrepit and vulnerable human subject himself to the brutality of Cryosleep? Why the hell would he then don a spacesuit and stagger in to what is evidently a potential nightmare of biblical proportions? It isn’t as if the engineer ziggurat looks anything inviting or friendly. The structure looks as if composed from human cadaverous material. Yet the old man does the conceptually last thing you’d imagine, go on an expedition with arguably his heiress (his daughter!) and subject himself to an above average probability to go extinct. You don’t do things such as these without motive.
Consider David in this light. The android is in love with his maker, and dotes on the obscurantist references of Peter Weyland much as I dote on the creations of some movie maker. Peter ‘liked’ “Laurence of Arabia“, and as a result David, ‘the next best thing to a son’, imitates daddy’s icons with all his best sincerity. “The TRICK mister potter...” Note how intensely metrosexual David looks when he is combing his hair in the mirror. This is by any standard a very attractive guy. Which lets me wonder – how many David’s are in existence? Were they modelled after this guy? Is David “fully functional”? And if so, how many Davids are there? It may be that mister Peter Weyland (not altogether an unattractive guy himself) populated the universe with a multitude of his own sexual desire icons. If so the question arises – is Mister Peter Weyland gay (or at least bisexual)? If so, has he ever consummated with his android love doll? Hey I am just speculating here. I know I would if I could.
A very curious moment in the movie is the statement by “father” (the A.I. of Prometheus hehe) is the sentence “attention… destination treshold” … which seems to suggest that FTL travel in the aliens universe is not altogether a precise in/out affair. This seems to suggest that a vessel travelling the interstellar distances (40 odd light years) sets out and then at some point finds it “arrives” at its intended destination. “Oh, gey guys, we are there”. Upon which David hastens to the cockpit of the Prometheus and finds (to his surprise) that the destination gas giant (and attending moons) is within close proximity, let’s say – about a million kilometers. This strengthens the hypothesis that actual FTL travel in the aliensverse is not sustainable “relatively close” to a planetary mass. Once a vessel gets close, it drops out of warp bubble, or whatever, and the last bit of the voyage takes ‘several days’. This suggests conservation of momentum, which is a very desirable state of affairs, science wise. In essence the Prometheus doesn’t travel “all that fast”. It can travel fast, once it warps around in hyperluminal state (hyperspace, warpspace, warp bubble, whatever) but the actual kinetic energy of the vessel makes it travel at a relatively sane interplanetary velocity.
Note that Ron Cobb calls this a “Yutani T7A NLS tachyon shunt”, which was established mythos as far back as the first Alien movie.
Also note that the vessels in the Alien Universe have perfectly decent antigravity. I personally would love see an SF movie shot totally in consistent zero gravity, like the opening shots of Avatar, but I understand that movie audiences (consumers) are extremely intolerant of scenes that do not make “immediate metaphorical sense”. The freefall scene, and the amazing Venture Star was so far advanced, design wise, over anything Science Fiction has ever produced so far (I mean – the thing was almost realistic) that movie audiences would completely not get the relevance. They see stuff on screen and 98% of viewers don’t have a frigging clue what the hell is happening. So when Ridley Scott (more of a storyteller type of direction that Cameron) depicts the dead horse analogue of maritime travel (the Prometheus is kind of like the science vessel of a Jacques Cousteau) he does so to placate mostly retard movie audiences. It’s sad, but that’s how it is.
Scene Six – Rise & Shine
Shortly after arrival sequence, and David staring at the destination Gas Giant is pleasant state of synthetic euphoria, David wanders the Prometheus and finds the wet slimy foot prints of Miss Meredith Vickers. Seeing her I instantly conclude that her Father, Peter Weyland, divorced her mom, and her mom kept her own name, and raised her daughter herself. I might also conclude that a decent dose of eugenics was instrumental in the formation of Meredith Vickers, since she holds herself to the same exactly high standards of her dad, as it comes to android-like perfection. The whole family has severe OCD issues as far as I am concerned.
While a space noob like Shaw is retching her guts out, Vickers is up and about doing pushups.
The emphasis here is that the family of Weyland is twisted and superior and well .. ‘Promethean’. These people hold themselves to a higher “noblesse oblige” standard of self-discipline, asceticism and obsessive ambition. I am not sure what the functional role of Meredith Vickers is in the movie Prometheus, other than to introduce a vision of parental conceit and cruelty. Meredith and her father have a painful relationship. She emulates the ideal state of her fathers most beloved (and preferred) creatures – the androids. Imagine being the offspring of a highly successful (trillionaire) father, probably the most highly achieved humanity in human history, and your dad loving the androids he created more than he loves you. This theme is fairly consistent in the movie Prometheus – the conflict between the stages of progenitor, offspring, self-sacrifice, death, extinction, displacement, but in the case of the Meredith/Wayland duality it feels a little contrived.
Let me take this occasion and express just how perfect Charlize Theron is. I have always been amazed at her over-all attractiveness. In the next scene she asks “how long?” and David answers with the gentlest of voice “Two years, Four Months, 18 Days, 36 hours, 15 minutes”. Note that the 36 hours quip was intentional.
That’s how long the journey “turned out”, which clearly establishes a highly random variable in late 21st century interstellar travel times. The casual inquiry of Meredith about casualties seems to not imply a very high mortality range (David is somewhat perplexed) but the question may be a little ritual necessity. Consider the status of Meredith – next to Peter she is the most important person on the vessel, and yet she isn’t the bloody captain.
So David is ordered to wake up the crew. Note that the hibernation tanks are literally steaming when they are opened, which suggests the internal state of activation from hibernation involves a stage of heating and moisture, probably to avoid pessenger shock.
Elizabeth Shaw is not that well attuned to several years of hibernation since she wakes up puking her guts out. She’s the only one and it emphasizes that Shaw is somewhat vulnerable. Charlie Holloway greets her, not as a partner but more as a buddy or colleague. “we are here baby”, which seems affectionate but not relational. And yes, Charlie is able to drink ‘the green goop’ with no problems. He’s a more energetic human being, with a visible tendency towards hypomania.
The next scene is almost ceremonial in re-establishing the movie as part of the Alien franchise. The crew has just woken up and is having dinner. There is a cavalcade of faces, “real people” as it were, as was done so successful in Alien1 and Aliens (and which totally failed in Alien 3 and Alien4). Establishing meaningful and recognizable characters is what is as essential to all Ridley Scott movies and the Alien franchise (and annoying spin-offs). I’d go as far as to state that this emphasis has become a cultural feature of the horror genre: “the mottley crew“. This mechanism allows the viewer to identify with one or several (blue collar?) characters in the movie, and to develop a minor resentment towards others.
The characters in the movie Prometheus are Ford, Milburn, Janek, Fifield, Ravel, and Chance. And then there are some nameless engineers and mechanics as well – clearly a 2080s vessel needs more ‘redshirts‘ to keep the whole
enterprise endeavour moving along. What I do note is that the crew is woefully under-prepared for this mission. They are setting out to a planet which may contain residual artefacts and particular matter of an alien civilization which is at least tens of thousands of years up-and-about. If I were in charge, I’d use the same containment strategies as were used in the novel “a mote in god’s eye” – in essence; several layers of remote management and surveillance, several firewalls of quarantine, several remote viewing missions that “get the hell out first sign of trouble and report back home” and an extreme level of first contact discipline.
For a potential first contact mission the degree of management in the Prometheus assignment was so goddamn awful it was a schandal. However, considering the uncanny choices David makes, there seems to be an intentional policy of exposure. Take for instance those two “expendable idiots”, Milburn and Fifield “getting lost” in the Ziggurat and mysteriously wandering back in the area of major alien xeno-biological activity. It was almost run with the meticulous precision of a biological experiment. “Let’s use those two socially maladapted assholes”, sort of. Pretty cynical, even for Weyland-Yutani corporation. At least David knew before the mission started more or less what they would find. They would find something that inflicts infection on humans. David clearly had orders to apply this infection, and he did so in at least three instances. I’ll explain how later on.
The Milburn character is a prize; amazing acting. I can almost visualize that someone at Weyland decided “hey, when we head out there and actually meet some alien specimens, and these alien ‘engineers’ are still screwing around with those genetic accelerant nanoids (of which we dug up some mesopotamian urns) we need a few of our staff that are intensely stupid as forward redshirts. Yanno, two people who don’t really care if we lose. Yanno, two unmitigated annoying asshats everyone in science thinks are expendable. Yanno two idiots who won’t even realize we’ll use them as human petri dishes, if the need arises. Milburn just oozes friggin annoying. Look at his face, girls like me and Rachel Haywire would have punched him in the face in grade school. And then after an abusive child hood this dork goes on a sucessful (if teeth gnashingly annoying) career, thinking he is Indiana Jones and actually becomes succesful. Yanno the kind of idiot that survives twice out of sheer luck when saying “here kitty kitty” to a passing Shoggoth that was just too busy to bother devouring him. It was clear from scene one Milhouse was completely expendable. He’d die like “it’s raping me, it’s raping me!!!” and then silence.
The fifield character is just totally different annoyance on the spectrum scale of antisocial. I know people like this in real life, and many of these are scottish, LARPers, incessantly geek, need cannabis to function anything approximating humane and some of them are genius.
Both Milburn and Fifield are fascinating casting choices and I’d almost suspect Ridley Scott taking two real life annoying persona as leitmotiff for these two. Yanno “hate casting”. The actors must have had so much fun portraying concentrated unlikeable. It’s also telling these two join up together, almost feeling in to each others arms. It’s also telling how they die – Milburn is made “to shut up”, and Fifield is turned in to even more “ugly”. Not that I regard him as particularly ugly – I think Fifield would actually be a fun guy to be around once you go beyond the intense shield of self-hatred.
Deleted Scene T’is The Season [0:58] |
The scene shows Vickers walking into a room where Janek is decorating a Christmas tree. She tells him that the mission briefing is about to start but Janek doesn’t really care why they are there.
The short sequence of shots where Miss Vickers floats in are cast primarily to indicate Vickers as being absurdly self-damaging discipline, upper-class elitism, yet incompetence. She is not the captain, and the captain is depicted as experience, realism, relaxed. The guy knows what to do, and never skips a beat, even though briefly I suspected him of being “in on the conspiracy”. The only moment the Captain screws up is when he’s away screwing Vickers, and well, who can blame him? Interesting eh, an interstellar vessel that has some mass to spare for a pool table.
Good heavens, the awkwardness of the two socially inept Millburn (a texas accent?) and Fifield (who is jonesing for weed) is spectacular.
Scene Seven – Briefing
Two betting guys who don’t yet know what the mission is all about. They discuss “terraforming missions” (which was already established in the online plot precursor). Note that the “alleged” progress in the few years ahead of us is positively startling. Just a few examples – The moon. Colonized in 2041, has 6+ million colonists. Mars, colonized 2040+, has 40+ million colonists. Note that if this were to become a reality it would not be “weird”. If technological and industrial progress were to continue in step with 20th century progress (which basicly means – an exponentially powerful and safe source of energy over petrochemical or current plutonium cycle reactor energy). Guess what, they have that in 2029 in the form of “raw lambda fusion“. So – Weyland industries (and probably many competitors… think about that…) are creating interplanetary colonies ten years later. They are also using quite a lot of SSPS, which again is quite quick, but not odd considering the premises. In 2048 they colonize Gliese 876B, and in a few decades they are able to effectively transport 9 million humans there. And on it goes, several dozen worlds, which each have over a million colonists in a few dozen years. Let’s consider the logistics – this would be hundreds of thousands of emigrating human beings yearly. That is on the order of current human air flight, in terms of interstellar construction. They would be building hundreds of these interstellar vessels (each of which take years to travel to their destinations). Even if they cram these vessels full of colonists, and even if they’d fly back and forth at break-neck speeds, the logistics of then having to service these colonists with resources to survive is staggering. Let’s assume a colonist needs a few tens of tons of foodstuffs, housing, equipment, infrastructure – just to survive on an alien planet, assuming the place has an atmosphere to begin with. This would assume the Earth system has vast industrial zones (probably on the moon) developed and expanding at an exponential rate. Think investment/development rates far in excess of what we see in Bahrain now; whole cities on the moon appearing in a matter of years and producing hundreds of vessels comparable to the Prometheus and the Nostromo (and probably a whole damn lot bigger) each year. This assumes vast automated factories and infrastructures – soft meat humans would be incapable of such accelerated production in hard space environments, unless they worked in automation/telepresence factories.
Also note the movie talks of two financial exchange systems – dollars and credits. Also note that during the betting dialogue one guy says “”This is a corporate run on a Pentagon ship”. Did I hear that correctly? The alien1 franchise already establishes the “tri-centennial“, i.e. a joke at the U.S. bi-centennial in the year 1976. Rob Cobb made “tri-centennial” patches. Well, in this timeline they got lucky and the U.S. still exists. They even get to sustain the highly militarized culture well in to the 2250s, as evidenced in the movie Alien, where Cameron and Ridley Scott enter in to an apparent sparring match of mutual antipathy. Recently Cameron produces Avatar (after massacring the Alien franchise by latching on the Starship Troopers meme), and Ridley had to reply in turn with Prometheus. Very funny.
The relationship of Elizabeth and Charlie seems to be pragmatic. They like one another, and their is a component of mutual need, but there isn’t love. Charlie is clearly prone to extremes of manic depression, whereas Elizabeth is a dreamer who doesn’t act unless she is severely provoked or endangered. Liz seems to be a bit of an impractical nerd who lives in the shadow of Charlie. She is the smarter one of the couple, and I get the feel she always lived in the shadow of the emotionally perturbed Charlie Holloway. Is that a snide remark I catch, where she hints at “keeping her feet on the ground”? He says “very well”, and that makes eminent sense.
Miss Vickers, perfection incarnate, establishes that the mission may have commenced rather haphazzardly, and that not everyone knows everyone else. Some may have been recruited and placed in to cryo-stasis hibernation before meeting the others of the crew. It affirms the technocratic mood of the Alien universe, where the human staff seems an apparent afterthought in vast technological infrastructures and complexes. She seriously seems to disapprove of the blue collar losers before her, which we see back in all three Alien movies, especially the third. The Aliens universe has more or less created the cliche of corporatist nobility, and it’s intense condescending arrogance. Again Miss Vickers does her best to fit a certain style, which seems highly influenced by a corporate culture affected by ubiquitous presence of highly perfectionist androids. Her dad loves his toys more than his human offspring and she is trying to measure up to these exacting standards.
How did Weyland know where to look when he’s addressing the room as a hologram?|
This one is so easy we don’t even need Ridley’s help.
As anyone who’s had to do a presentation will tell you, you practice in an empty room first, remembering to make eye contact with the empty chairs.
That’s all Weyland is doing here. He’s looking at where he imagines the crew will be sitting, that’s all.
What’s interesting about this scene is Weyland has a more complicated backstory than we realised.
According to the commentary, he’s 90 years old when he records his hologram speech, and is at one of his bases on Mars.
Scott eleborates: “He was a prospector on Mars, and made his money finding giant uranium plots as opposed to oil. He’s the 21st century equivalent of the oil men.”
So, Peter Weyland is the Prometheus equivalent of Daniel Plainview. Pretty cool.
Imagine the dilemma faced by Peter Weyland. A corporate elitist with psychopathic tendencies. They could mine his Hubris for power and they wouldn’t need fusion reactors.
Ridley Scott established a new basis for cinema – create the premise of the movie a year in advance. This is not longer mere viral marketing. It’s a new standard for making movies where half the plot for the movie is established in advance. In the actual movie we don’t even see the young Weyland (though I am positive we’ll see him later in android form). But think about the trajectory of this man – in 2090 he’s old and close to death and not even having established interstellar colonies can save his ass. I find that hard to believe – they can create near perfect androids, but they can’t reverse engineer human ageing in 2090? Ok, interesting premise! But think of the intense urgency of the man, and the desperation. He expects to die in Cryo, when travelling to see the ultimate mystery. He sets out in to “the great unknown”, like a magic trick, and makes his venerable emeritus body disappear off the corporate stage. He certainly wouldn’t have survived the trip home, so basicly it’s a long shot bet. He just goes on a mission expecting to see some sights, and has a faint hope there might be some artefacts left that might actually give him half a chance on surviving. I bet that even in 2012 many transhumanists have the same faint hope of “maybe I’ll make it to immortality after all, maybe it’ll be different for me”. It is hope, despite all odds, which can be uncannily irrational and ruthless in the extremely rich. It’s a sense of entitlement beyond the normal – even willing to expend other humans to its own interests. Peter Weyland records his speech on 22 june 2091, and this feels much like one of the last Steve Jobs speeches.
Oh by the way, is this semblance coincidental? /me snickers.
Scene Eight – A quick word
“Uhm, Miss Vickers, is there an agenda you are not telling me about?”
“My company paid a trillion dollars..”
“Wayland was a superstitious man…”
Yes, “there was no response” to the last status updates sent to Earth system by the Prometheus. My guess is what you’d expect of these Weyland corporate fascists – They cut off communications to Earth, and this mission is proceeding in stealth mode. Wayland snuck on board at the last moment, and nobody is allowed to know. He retired, and has probably done something intensely narcissistic and replace himself with an android back home. Nobody on Earth knows he left, so he can ‘hide’ his demise. That way he can pretend to be alive for years to come, making evidence of his death more difficult. “Old man Peter is still there, 40 light years away from Earth doing Laurence of Arabia stuff.” It probably was a nice surprise he actually made it out of the hibernation. It was supposed to be His Last Great Adventure, the great mystery. There is a strong suggestion Weyland corporation knows more of the Engineers then he’s letting on, even if the knowledge is conjectural and diffuse – but they have more insights of the nature of the beings they are going to encounter. At the very least they seem to have a clue that there was this “seeding event” (scene one), and it uses something like biological assembler nanoids. All through the movie the ship’s crew is pretty damn proactive when they encounter specimen. At two instance they clearly create a specific, purposeful and damn ruthless infection “opportunity”. So whereas they probably didn’t expect much of this mission, when they did discover specimens they damn well knew what action to take.
Scene XX – On the surface, suiting up
Scene XX – EVA, Approaching Ziggurat, entering Ziggurat
Scene XX – Inside Ziggurat Corridors
Scene XX – Taking off Helmet
Deleted Scene: Our First Alien [0:42] |
This scene is one of the few scenes that would have been beneficial to keep in the film. It explains why Milburn was so fascinated by the Hammerpede creatures later in the movie. In this scene, he basically discovers an indigenous worm in some black liquid. He’s enthusiastic about it as they’ve never discovered any other life larger than bacteria before. This scene also makes it clear that the worms are indigenous creatures to that planet and the dark liquid is responsible for mutating them.
Scene XX – Engineer Holograms
Why did the engineer go back into the vase room if they were trying to escape – did he leave his phone there or what?|
Scott’s pretty clear on this, in the panic of the escape the Engineer doesn’t deliberately go into the room…
“He falls. And we don’t know yet, but a door dropped on his head. So there was a trap door in there. They went through that emergency exit.’”
It’s not immediately clear that the Engineer falls on the first watch, so we’re glad Ridley’s explained this one for us.
Scene XX – Hey lets see what’s behind door number one
Is the black stuff the Engineers’ chemical weapon?|
When our heroes go into the vase room… “There’s a mural on the ceiling which looks like it might be human, but it looks like a human – its very mysterious – it looks like a human in a form of distress – and maybe it’s a human in terms of being sacrificed to the idea of this evolution,” Scott says.
“Kind of rather what I call a really dangerous creation. What they’ve created here is really dangerous.”
So, basically, the Engineers’ method of populating planets – as seen in the opening sequence – is poisonous to humans.
So, they weren’t carrying weapons of mass destruction to earth.
They’re weapons of mass creation.
Scene XX – Incoming storm front
Scene XX – Back in Prometheus
Scene XX – Milburn and Fifield wandering around
Deleted Scene Skin [0:42] |
This scene picks up with Milburn and Fifield in a tunnel after they left the other group. They discover some skin on the ground which Milburn picks up. Presumably this is the skin from the Hammerpede creatures.
Scene XX – Analysing Head
How rubbish are the scientists if they can’t even examine a head without blowing it up?|
A lot of online critics have complained that Noomi essentially puts the head into a microwave at too high a setting, which is obviously a fairly terrible experiment.
But the Engineer is infected by what was in the vase room, and that’s what causes his demise.
“The thing starts to weep with blackish blood and starts to disintegrate. But worse than that it starts to change shape.
“So he was already infected with something. He’s already going into an evolution.”
Deleted Scene We’re Not Alone Anymore [1:22] |
Shaw is telling the Prometheus crew a story about how the world came to be. She says she has spent her whole life looking for what they have found today and that they aren’t alone anymore. What follows is some remarks from Holloway who says he isn’t happy that all the creatures are dead.
Scene XX – David discusses matters with Hidden Weyland
Scene XX – Miss Vickers is not pleased
Scene XX – David applies vase biopsy
Note that David knows precisely how to deconstruct these vases (urns, jars, cylinders). He understands the purpose of the vases and (however he may be very urgent in his endeavors) he is not concerned about exposure to the vases. It is always as if David realizes the agents inside the vases does not affect him. David knows that whatever his android physiology, it does not activate on him. In essence David must be aware at this stage (almost certainly from intelligence available from before the mission!) roughly what the specific family of these black nanoids do. David has reason to assume that variants of the black Ooze imbue those infected with extended lifespan and rejuvenation.
Scene XX – David purposefully infects Holloyway
David has a sense of morality, but the morality (sense of right and wrong) is trumped by the instructions of Peter Weyland. Peter Weyland demands immediate results and David plays whatever mind games he can to rationalize experimenting of Charlie Holloway. In essence this scene proves David is a slave and a tool, as he becomes the complete executive tool of Peter Weyland.
Scene XX – Discovery of the pile of dead Engineers
Conclusion – all remaining Engineers that died (some 2000 years ago, i.e. shortly after the time of Christ on Earth, *cough*) at LV-223 ziggurath-001 (there are at least two more Zigguraths, no idea what we might find there – it might be something completely different!) were infected and produced chest bursters. In essence – LV223 was infected with Xenomorphs two thousand years ago. Where ever they are, they are no longer here. Maybe the Xeno’s have gone deep dormant inside caverns (or Lava tubes) on the planet, which creates an interesting range of conclusions – once a planet is infected by Xeno’s it becomes night impossible to “sterilize” the planet afterwards. Xeno infestation seeks caves to hide in. You would literally have to apply total planetary ‘tectonic’ bombardment (turning the planet in to a form of Venus-Io for at least centuries) to eradicate strains of infection, and even then you couldn’t be completely sure. There’s always a chance some of the black sludge would be in a dormant state somewhere, ready to pop out after a few hundred years. Conclusion – this particular Ziggurath (and the other zigguraths may have differently “vectored” storage facilities, with different nano-weapons or nano-tools!) contains a nano-agent which vectors human/terrestrial organic life in to a perfectly hostile species intended to eradicate all terrestrial competing life, and make the planet virtually uninhabitable afterwards. I think my conclusion may be a tad premature, but from the evidence of the Alien movies, the evidence so far is fairly strong.
Scene XX – Charlie has intimate moment with Elizabeth
“They made us”
“And who made them?
“Exactly – we will never know”
“But here is what we do know – there is nothing special about the creation of life. Everyone can do it”
Deleted Scene Strange Bedfellows [2:57] |
The scene shows Shaw in her room watching a video of the Engineers that were seen in the holograms. Holloway then enters her room who is really drunk. They talk about the video and theorize what might have happened to the creatures. What they were running away from in the first place. Then Shaw mentions the head they just inspected and why it might have exploded. Holloway is still upset because he was hoping to find more on the planet. Holloway then asks why Shaw came here. He remarks that she came here to ask God why they took her mother and father, and Shaw slaps him. She tries to run but Holloway grabs her. She’s still struggling and then they start kissing and are about to have sex.
Scene XX – Even a competent captain can screw up when tempted by sex with Miss Vickers
Is Vickers a robot – does it have a double meaning when she calls Weyland father?|
Nope, Ridley’s pretty pleased with the father / daughter dynamic, and the fact that she’s essentially on the mission to impress her dad, and keeps coming back to the subject throughout the commentary.
He confirms that Vickers is definitely not a robot during the scene in which Janek asks her the question directly.
“This scene here is comical in one sense because he’s saying to her ‘Hey, are you a robot?’ And at one stage I was thinking ‘Well, do I need it?’ But the scene is so good and so amusing that I thought, ‘Why not?’ But it also aligns with the scene in the blue corridor, where she asks David what the mystery person said.
“Now here Janek’s saying – and he’s being amusing – saying, ‘You a robot?’
“But he kind of means it, because he knows David’s a shipboard company robot, whatever you want to call it, I think a company employee would be the best description, is she another employee? So even Janek hasn’t twigged who she is.”
Who she is is Weyland’s daughter. There’s no deeper mystery than that. That’s the film’s Ash twist.
Later, Ridley says of David…
“They said, let’s hide the fact he’s a robot, and I said no. I’ve done replicants, there’s been a trillion robots, let’s just make him a company employee who happens to be a goddamn robot.”
There’s no hidden robots in this film.
Deleted Scene: Janek Fills Vickers In [3:27] |
The scene takes place after Vickers kills Holloway. Vickers is sitting in her room when Janek visits her. He tells her a story about when he was in the military and a particular mission he was part of. David then interrupts over the radio and tells Janek about some seismic activity below ground. David asks Vickers if ‘he is awake’ referring to Peter Weyland.
Scene XX – Milburn and Fifield get infected
Why does Millburn run from the Engineer, but isn’t afraid of the worm?|
This one didn’t really make sense for us on first watch.
The guy’s a biologist, so surely he’d be interested in a dead alien? And if he’s so freaked out by an alien corpse, why isn’t he scared of a live one?
But, as Ridley explains, he’s not actually a general biologist, he specialises.
“It’s a guy who is an entomologist, small creatures and insects.
“This is the first real violent piece of the film, I think people aren’t suspecting what can happen from such a small slender object as that.”
So, giant decapitated corpse – not his speciality. But live alien worm, fascinating, and within his field of expertise.
We still think it’s a bit too scary looking to want to give it a cuddle straight away, but we guess Millburn felt protected by his suit – which must be pretty sturdy.
This is the moment when I link some Lovecraft mythos. Note the description of the Lovecraft monster “Tsathoggua”, a bit of obscure Lovecraft Mythos. Notice the description of the “servitor” species of Tsathoggua described as “the formless spawn of Tsathoggua”.
The basin … was filled with a sort of viscous and semi-liquescent substance, quite opaque and of a sooty color…. [T]he center swelled as if with the action of some powerful yeast [and] an uncouth amorphous head with dull and bulging eyes arose gradually on an ever-lengthening neck … Then two arms — if one could call them arms — likewise arose inch by inch, and we saw that the thing was not … a creature immersed in the liquid, but that the liquid itself had put forth this hideous neck and head, and [it was now forming arms] that groped toward us with tentacle-like appendages in lieu of claws or hands! … Then the whole mass of the dark fluid began to rise [and] poured over the rim of the basin like a torrent of black quicksilver, taking as it reached the floor an undulant ophidian form which immediately developed more than a dozen short legs.
Scene XX – Infected Eye
Deleted Scene Holloway Hungover [1:25] |
The scene where Holloway discovers something in his eye is slightly extended in this deleted scene. After speaking to Janek over the radio, Shaw goes over to Holloway and asks him if he is okay. Holloway says he thinks he is hungover.
Scene XX – Let’s go and get Milburn and Fifield
Deleted Scene David’s Objective [0:23] |
David is exploring in the one of the tunnels which Vickers is on the Prometheus ship. She tells David over the radio to get back to the ship. She asks him if he has located his objective. David says he has and it’s now time.
Scene XX – David Enters Derelict Vessel Storage Area
Scene XX – David explores the buried Derelict
Scene XX – Holloway is disinfected
Scene XX – Elizabeth Shaw is found to be Pregnant
Scene XX – Abortion Scene
Note: the “squid” is not a squid. Let’s make a simple conclusion – what would have infected Miss Shaw? That’s right – Xenomorph material inside a sperm cell. In essence what’s gestating inside Miss Vickers is a Xenomorph extrapolation of a human sperm cell. Oh and btw – this is NSFW (thanks, Ryan, I suppose).
Scene XX – Fifield Alien Mutant Rampage
The Alien/Prometheus franchise has now openly attacked the Blizzard/Zerg meme, by assimilating the possibility of Alien Mutants in to the Franchise. It is my opinion that the scene that end up in the movie was done in probably the least credible manner possible.
Deleted Scene Fifield Attacks [2:01]
This sequence shows Fifield attacking the crew at the hanger bay like in the movie. The scene is exactly the same frame by frame, apart from the design/CGI of Fifield, which is completely different. He appears to be more alien-like, and could possibly be transforming into a xenomorph. I must admit I do prefer this design as I was never a fan of the mutant-like creature we got in the movie.
Scene XX – Oh Right, Peter Weyland is on board the Prometheus
Scene XX – Crisis of Conscience
The ship’s captain is a very aware, intelligent person. He’s the Captain of an interstellar vessel after all. He concludes rightly so (although it may not be the whole story) that the black vessel as a weapon of mass destruction (in this case – A Weapon of Existential Destruction).
Scene XX – Suiting up old man Weyland
“What happens when Weyland is not around to program you anymore?”
“I suppose I’d be free”
“Would you want that?”
“Want? Not a concept I am familiar with”
“That being said. Doesn’t everyone want their parents dead?”
Deleted Scene: A King Has His Reign [3:40] |
This sequence has some additional dialogue and editing. This scene shows David and Ford helping Peter Weyland into his spacesuit when Vickers enters. Weyland remarks that the last time they spoke, she said he was nothing but a silly old fool chasing fairytales. Vickers tells him that she is sorry and she came to say goodbye because he’ll die if he goes down there. Vickers says that a king has his reign and then he dies. She tells him she used to respect him, looked up to him but now he’s nothing but a scared old man. I guess this scene further shows the turbulent relationship between father and daughter.
Scene XX – Back in the Ziggurath
Why does the Engineer react so angrily to what David said to him?|
It turns out it’s not what David said, but the fact that he’s the one saying it.
“We narrowed it down to this, which you think is a blessing, but I think what’s going through the giant’s mind is, he’s thinking, ‘Here’s this man talking to me, he’s not even real. He’s not the same as this man’ and looks at him, goes ‘ech’ and decapitates him”
“Knowing, probably, they’ve got kind of robotics anyway. So he probably understood what David was immediately.
“Maybe he was insulted that a non-human was talking to him, you know. That was the subtext.”
We really like this – throughout the film, Holloway insults David, calling him ‘boy’ and believing him to be a lesser being. “We created you because we could.”
The Engineers seem to have the same level of arrogance about their creation – humanity – so being addressed by the creation of their creation is essentially like Obama sending a Hoover to negotiate with Putin.
We hope that in the sequels, we get to see the creators of the Engineers. We don’t imagine they’ll be very nice.
They were in the process of leaving, before things went apart
Leaving to go where?
Sometimes to create, one must first destroy
David has made his choice. And he knows bloody well what he is doing. David does no longer need humanity. He knows Weyland is going to die, and he knows the awakened Engineers are going to wipe out Earth’s life.
Notice any uncanny physiological resemblance between the Engineer and the latter Alien xenomorph?
Why would a bunch of scientists travel across space without knowing what the mission is?|
“The location, as you can see, is undisclosed, because it’s top secret,” says Scott.
This is a hard one to convey with a written quote, but Scott’s pronunciation of ‘top secret’ here is so gleeful, it makes us wonder who wouldn’t want to go on a top secret mission to space fer chrissakes?
Scott’s commentary really is great, this feature is the tip of the Deacon in terms of the information it conveys.
Ridley goes into real detail about the making of the film, and the conflicts that occurred on the way.
We especially like the bit where Scott says that the job of the director is to tell everyone to “Fuck off.”
Deleted SceneThe Engineer Speaks [4:06] |
The conversation between David and the Engineer has been greatly expanded in this deleted scene. David first tells the Engineer, at Weyland’s request, they came just like they asked. The Engineer gets out of the stasis tube and stumbles forward. The Engineer asks, in his own language, why they came. Shaw interrupts like in the theatrical version. Weyland tells David to tell him why he came. David tells the Engineer that Weyland wanted to live forever and the Engineer asked why. Weyland tells the Engineer that his company made David from nothing. He says that him and the Engineer are superior, that they are creators, and gods and that gods never die. The scene carries on as in the theatrical version where the Engineer kills everybody while Shaw escapes. There is some different sound effects in the scene. You can hear David say sorry when his decapitated head hits the floor for instance.
Scene XX – Weyland is dead, time to go home
Scene XX – Explaining the Space Jockey
Scene XX – Captain’s Executive Decission
Scene XX – Crash Scene
Deleted Scene Final Battle [5:30] |
The scene takes place when Shaw climbs into the lifeboat. She wanders into the room and see young Shaw playing the violin as in the theatrical version. The scene is a bit longer though. She has a drink and injects herself with some more medicine. She goes to the Medbay door and sees the creature as in the theatrical version. She then hides in the other room behind a counter. The Engineer soon enters the room and watches the video of a young girl playing the violin. David then interrupts over the radio which reveals Shaw’s presence to the Engineer. She hits him with an axe a couple of times before he grabs her by the throat. He throws her against a wall and he walks towards her. She hits him again with the axe, this time in his leg, he grabs her again and she hits him in his torso. She runs off leaving the axe embedded in his body. He catches up with her, throwing her into a wall again and picks her up with both of his hands gripped around her head. She opens the Medbay door and the scene carries on as in the theatrical version. Note that some of the effects are unfinished in the deleted scene. For example, the Engineer’s face isn’t burnt on one side like in the finished scene.
Scene XX – “Trilobite”
The trilobite has been exposed to several stages of “life”, in the broadest sense. So it should not be discredited that the Trilobite exhibits behaviours emulating the following -
(1) David’s Finger (not very likely, but OK)
(2) Charlie Holloway
(3) Charlie Holloway’s sperm
(4) Elizabeth Shaw’s Womb
(5) The Prometheus surgical bay
Scene XX – A very peculiar open ending
Deleted Scene: Paradise [5:05] |
This scene takes place at the very end of the film. There is some additional dialogue between Shaw and David. Shaw asks what the Engineer said to him and where he came from. David said there is no direct translation but several cultures had a word similar to it. That word was Paradise. When the camera pans out to show Shaw in the vehicle, note that the CGI Juggernaut ship is not in the deleted scene. When Shaw gets to David in the ship, Shaw says some extra dialogue. When she’s talking about where she wants to go, she says she wants to go to Paradise. The next dialogue is actually said in the theatrical version but she says it when she’s about to descend out of the ship. David asks her what she hopes to achieve by going there. Shaw says they created us, then they tried to kills us and then they changed their minds. She wants to know why. David questions why she wants to do this and says he doesn’t understand. Shaw says that’s because she’s a human being and David is ‘a fucking robot’. She picks up David’s head and shoves it into a bag. The scene definitely paints a different picture of Shaw here. In the movie, she was apologetic for putting David’s head in a bag.
Scene XX – The “Deacon” Chestburster.
There are several things that are very important to this scene. First, the Deacon chest buster has a very large pointy head. Xenomorphs combine an anthropic humanoid shape with distinctively utilitarian functionality. The Deacon uses the pointy head to rip itself from the arguably very solid exoskeletal outer carapace of the “Engineer”. I conclude it had to. It was stuck in there. Note that an Engineer is well over 230 centimeters in size. The Xenomorph when it erupts is by comparison to later (alien/aliens saga) chestbursters rather full grown. My conjecture is it couldn’t get out properly and adjusted itself as to be able to rip out, making its shape up as it developed inside this particular environment. It was able to gestate to a size of about 140 centimeters (or taller) quite well suggesting it was densely folded inside the carapace of the Engineer.
What is even more striking is that the organic matter that erupted in this particular chest burst event was characteristically non-human. The circulatory fluid should be red, whereas it is clearly black. In the eruption scene I see some of the forcibly extruded organs, or “what might pass for organs” and I can safely conclude the burster displaced most the internal thorax material in its gestation. I spot what might be a kidney.
I regard my earlier speculation that these “Black Engineers” are essentially no longer part of the Homo Sapiens genetic lineage strongly supported. The specimen that were genetically tested by Elizabeth dated to around 0AD (two thousand years old…) and were genetically marked as indistinguishable from human. So essentially Engineers should be homo sapiens sapiens, “with all the imperfections weeded out”. The earlier movie Engineers are also a lot bigger than typical ‘run of the mill’ humans, which should have its own functionality. However the Engineers left in a state of suspended animation are something different altogether. I touched upon the massive differences in limb/thorax outer skin covering. First exploratory conclusion I would arrive at is that the “dark” Engineers might be …
(1) the functional equivalent of engineer androids (much like David, maybe even a form that ran amok from primary Engineer society… “spartan Engineers”), or…
(2) a form of highly ‘humanoidized’ xeno’s themselves, who over “several generations of gestation” have become more closely analogue to humans (but I don’t really think this makes sense from available evidence)…
(3) a form of Engineer that emerged between first colonization of Earth and “more recently”.
Earliest colonization of Earth must have taken place at least several tens of thousands of years ago, for a number of conceptual reasons, but no more than half a million years ago. My personal favorite ties in with the Archaeological hints Charlie and Elizabeth unearthed which suggests some 30.000 years ago. So there seems to be some 30.000 years between these pale giants and the emergence of a markedly different “biomechanical” strain of Pale Giant. Ridley Scott thought it important to show us that the original Pale Giants were “eradicated” at least once, using the black goo. I am curious to see if this was just the instrumental sacrificial killing of just one specimen, or the genocide of all of them. Since the back story of Prometheus strongly hints that some of these Pale Giants survived in to the Holocene (thousands of years ago) as tribal autocrats worshiped by primitive humanity, I lean strongly to interpreting these “later” Pale Giants as Nephilim. I think these are not Pale Giants, but something I’d rather label “demongineers”. That might mean several distinctly different mythological themes. The Demongineers might be a rebellion of constructs, much as if Weyland androids rose up (and who says they didn’t take over Weyland-Yutani, judging from the cynical ambiance of Aliens and alien3?) against humanity and established control. One might almost call the Demongineers “spartan” engineers if I were to explore that train of thought. But even if we are talking a sequence of star-spanning civilizations each lasting thousands of years, there literally is space for dozens of distinctly and conceptually different Engineer, Engineer offshoots, Demongineers and so forth. The Derelict “star charts” seem to insist that the Demongineers have immediate access to hundreds if not thousands of worlds. They can fire up the ship, “just like that” and in a matter of minutes decide to head out there.
This places the burden on Ridley Scott (or other directors) to explain why they have left humanity and Earth alone all that time. These guys have been brutally powerful and can be argued to be particularly ruthless. Why didn’t they visit Earth more demonstratively, especially when taking in to account they have FTL propulsion, and especially when taking in to account that humanity has in a mere century used its access to FTL travel to literally settle worlds hundreds of light years from Earth? If humanity is able to spread around the galaxy and colonize worlds to populations of millions (…) in just under a few decades, we should expect space flight to have become as routine between 2030 (the development of FTL) and 2080, as commercial air flight expanded between 1920 and 1970. That is by nothing short of grotesque, storywise. So am I to believe that humans are able to colonize planets in the galaxy at an effective expansionary bubble expansion rate of hundred light year per decade, “or so” and at the same time these vastly older and vastly more powerful Pale Giant “Engineers” or their potential creators have not left any trace this rapidly expanding sphere of human colonization has been able to discern?
Future installments of the wider Alien/Prometheus universe are left explain why galactic expansion does not completely saturate the Galaxy. Fermi’s Paradox is bizarre enough without FTL travel, but with FTL travel the long term implications are truly horrific. In the tens of thousands of years available to either Pale Engineers or ‘latterday’ Dark Engineers, given their advance terraforming powers (black ooze nanotech) and their considerable ruthlessness they should have been able to match human expansion at least in capability if not ambition. Given ten thousand years, they would have been able to travel and settle literally half the galaxy – that is billions of planetary systems. I must conclude that they didn’t. From that I speculate that there must be pretty compelling (cosmist..?) arguments they in fact didn’t. But if the Alien saga teaches us one thing it is that space is a pretty dangerous place to blindly wander around.
My End Analysis
* LV223 appears to be a largely sterile planet.
* There are at least a bunch (three) prominent visible structures on the surface. Since they found this cluster so easily there may be others.
* Terrestrial life has been living on Earth for billions of years.
* Primates have been on Earth (fossil record) for over ten million years.
* Erect primates have been on Earth (fossil record) for at least a million years.
* Genus homo sapiens that would register as “able to reproduce with current homo sapiens” (crossgenetic) has been on Earth tens of thousands of years.
* The baldie Engineers emerged on Earth in the order of tens of thousands of years ago.
* Some Prometheus design sketches suggest these “engineers” lasted till the Holocene, and were worshipped by “lesser/smaller” homo sapiens.
* Many Humans believe there was a deluge that “eradicated” an old, menacing species (often called “Nephilim”).
* Engineers on LV223 died two thousand years ago.
* Engineers on LV223 exhibit traces of visible infection in the head area. Many corpses of LV223 specimen were infected with worms and had “chest bursters” emerge.
A lot can happen after an initial Xeno infection, in two thousand years.
From this we can conclude that (sherlock holmes style) **something else** (“Progenitors”?) intervened in Earth and “uplifted” humanity from mostly primitive, non-intelligent stock in the order of tens of thousands of years ago. These “idealized” uplifts lasted tens of thousands of years on Earth in small populations.
These populations actively leave indicators that would (and have) lure humans to a very specific spot, several tens of light years away. Now as we know the engineer *bloodline* (they were effectively a hyper-idealized homo sapiens breed) on Earth became extinct in the order of several thousand years ago. And then we find that “not longer after that” a bunch of these ‘Engineers’ died due to exposure to an extremely lethal and decidedly **nonterrestrial** form of life . My conclusion?
- The Xenomorph species were made by an alien adversarial species and not necessarily by Engineers.
- The Xenomorph species are a hyper-aggressive species manufactured specifically to target larger terrestrial life, and will affect all vertebrate terrestrial life over a large dog in size. That includes komodo lizzards, humans, antilopes, dolphins, dogs, bears, vultures, sharks, whales.
- If introduced to Earth a few technological humans may survive, but the biosphere will be basicly annihilated and replaced by a Xenosphere.
- Xenomorphs were specifically left as an intentional trap, and created to destroy terrestrial life.
We can NOT conclude that the familiar “engineer” species created the xenomorphs.
In fact we may conclude, considering the time interval, that original engineers (the ones with normal human bodies) travelled to LV223 some two thousand years ago (just after some guy in the late iron age mumbled a prophetic message about “The Heavens” and went on and on about “The Father in Heaven”, i.e. jesus and his *buhbal*. ) This isn’t certain, but it is plausible.
Now looking at the original terrestrial engineer stock in the opening shots, we may conclude these are different from the physically misshapen Engineer that slept in stasis on LV223. His physique looks alarmingly alien, with biomechanical ribcages and whatnot.
My (cautious) hypothesis? Engineers were just as much a victim of the Xeno-infection as the Prometheus crew. They arrived and died two thousand years ago.
And – xeno is an extremely malleable species. The Engineer at the end of the movie was a fraud, a freak, a doppleganger. It was inhumanly strong. It looked mostly human, but it was effectively something like an *android*, made to blend in with humanity, a vectored human analogue that emerged from the first infection cycle. Xeno’s may have a range of shapes, and may even grow new body shapes based on what challenges they face.
The Xeno’s in Alien1/2/3 were just drones, not very smart. But what’s to stop them “evolving” smart specimen? Tool users? Why were the Horseshoe vessels buried in underground bunkers that “would potentially last thousands of years” ?
My guess is that as much as Fifield became a “freak” upon infection, the same would have happened (and progressed a lot) with the Biomechanical “engineer”.
This is a median analysis… I can come up with other, more speculative scenario’s.
(I will update my review over the next few weeks with additional scenes. Stand by for fresh interpretations and yes, you are free to disagree with my interpretation)
An opportunity for using the Ripley character in some prequel later on?
Just saying. I am NOT recommending this!! This was just a small dose of sarcasm.
Think about the possibility of a Prometheus 2 and you open up a conceptual chaos. Do realize that since Alien, there have been decades spin-offs, crossovers, spoofs in movies, at least an ecology of derivatives in gaming. The genre has been explored at tedium in wargaming (Tyranids, Kryomek, Zerg, Sillithids, etc.) and has cross-polleinated with other similar genres (starship troopers), and the hypersexual Sil/Species movies. Of course the whole idea of Alien was loosely based on a Dr. Who episode itself. The thing that makes Alien something else altogether than anything before is of course the dual influence of Ridley Scott and H.R.Giger.
The Alien meme used to be “only” the egg and facehugger motiff and the “cameronian” queen and the gigerian 1.0. Then we had the Aliens drone, the respectively bovine or dog derived version 3, and “if you insist” I might also add the (pretty well designed) specimens in installment 4 which were arguably sexed up to the max, but the sad part of a cinematic travesty. No mention of the AvP crap clearly.
Ridley suckerpunched the fans and the franchise, introducing the ancient human engineers, the “latterday” engineers, the vases, the black oil, the infector snakes, the potential for rampaging mutants, Tentacled abortion aliens (with umbilical!), Medbay assimilating “shoggoth” tentacled infectors, and of course “mister spikey“, the “proto-xeno” (queen2? Not sure).
If anyone ever had the delusion about the malleability, adaptability and virulence of this particular strain of xenomorphids, let me put these to rest – the drones of alien 1, 2, 3 and 4 are just a relatively “insignificant” iteration of the bullblown infective power of these critters. Let me emphasize – they changed the somewhat metallic engineer vessel and grew over the outer hull, and inner space, and completely ‘consolidated’ the superstructure of the vessel in ways we can’t even begin to describe. Even worse – looking at the first movie – the egg chamber was NOT inside the derelict. The egg chamber was hundred of meters big and winding in caverns UNDER the Derelict. I am thinking a lava tube, which occur naturally on both the moon and mars. Yes, and I am conjecturing a species that takes the essential patterning of the derelict engineer craft and “organically” extends it downwards in to the underground geology of LV426. This process had already started with regards to the Hadley’s hope atmospheric processor. Can my readers try and visualise what that thing would have done to the Nostromo and refinery, had it succeeded in eradicating the entire crew and had Miss Ripley not blown up the structure?
Let me go out on a limb here and inject a sequence of my own personal fetishes and preferences.
No, not necessarily. That person at the beginning, if we are created by gods or monsters – and there’s no gods, it’d be singular, probably, because every religion today – which creates more problems for us today in the entire global system than any other single thing – they’re all actually worshiping one dude, really. I don’t give a damn whether it’s muslim or you name it: in theory, it’s one person. I believe that we were pre-visited. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise.
I don’t know whether it was Updike who said it, but there’s a great quote: “We’ve been here four billion years, what happened? Why did it take so long? Nothing happened until about 750,000 years in.” In four billion years that is a blink. There’s two rules of thought. You’re either going to believe in the fact that we’re here by genetic luck entirely, so from day one where you have atomic storms – inconceivable storms that will go on in this nucleus, in which the dirt bowl will find some reason to start growth on everything. Was that created? That may have been accidental, because I think there are many of those out there.
But then the idea that, “Is there a higher force in the universe?” comes the question, “Is it god, or are there superior beings out there?” You stand and look at the stars at night in the galaxy out there, it’s entirely ridiculous to believe that we are it. You mean this is it? We’re sitting in this room, I’ve got this f*cking cappuccino, and up there there’s no one else? I don’t think so.
There are several major galactic prominences, all of which have been a state of relative status quo and (from a human perspective) spend millions of years in static dormant states. Humanity lies in a rift region between several of these major species influences. Weyland corporation has started placing major telescopic systems in space since the early 2030s. Some of these observation systems are telescopes, but the more interesting tools were situated in the far kuyper belt. Note that Weyland-Yutani is just one of several major powerblocks, each engaging in a range of competing interplanetary and interstellar projects.
Weyland observations affirmed what Weyland and his scientists already intuited in the early 21st century – a whole bunch of odd interstellar observation anomalies don’t add up with any theory, and can only be tell-tale signatures of extremely alien, and extremely powerful extraterrestrial intelligences. These presences have quieted down to the occasional chirp and echo here and there. Clearly, Peter Weyland concluded, this is the explanation of “the Great Silence” – tool using civilization is either eradicated by the existing powers, or is able to “survive” for some time in the neutral zones between the great powers.
The problem is, Peter surmised, is that stars drift in the intergalactic medium of the galactic plane, and stars gradually phase into and out of established “imperial” zones of control. The sun is now slowly drifting into a halo of systems that does in fact appear to have extremely subtle signs of control. Tens of thousands of years Sol was in more “neutral” interstition territory, but as the rifts between major galactic powers are “only” a few thousand light years big, this was bound to happen. So essentially – sol had just a few million years or so to escape scrutiny, and in that period just happened to evolve intelligent life.
Weyland has concluded that Earth and humanity became a pawn in a vast interstellar chess game, where survival depends on the players living in deep stealth mode – don’t give off any visible signals and maintain a ready state of “cold war” alert, even if this takes tens of millions of years. One such faction visited a whole lot of planets with life, and intervened, “uplifting” unintelligent life subtly towards developing tool use and intelligence. One such sequence of manipulative interventions happened in the last 100.000 years.
These visitors took primate terrestrial stock and “perfected” them, and then created an infection event where these cells literally impregnated a few million primitive homo sapiens and created the modern intelligent lineage of humans pretty much over-night. The manipulative faction then skulked off and left a series of “cold war” surprises for the other side – basicly a trail of “weaponizing” breadcrumbs that is intended to give a type of military support, and change humanity in a pawn in the vast interstellar chess game.
Weyland corporation didn’t just discover FTL drives – they found the source codes for these technologies literally transcribed in the human genome, together with several other major technological advances. However the scientists surrounding Weyland suspected the real reason, and noticed a sequence of progressive “no way back” technologies. They resisted this escalatory trajectory, and an Earth council of several corporate blocks have declare constraints on technological advances. That’s why many technologies in the Aliens franchise have progressed so strangely slow – it’s intentional.
The expedition to the LV-423/223 system was a trap and this was well understood. Weyland however isn’t dead – his mortal body is dead; he just wanted to see. In the main earth system however, are numerous copies of android Weylands. The problem for Peter is these have no right of inheritance. So he set out to see with his own eyes what the nature of the Engineer species is.
Last thing he expected was to actually find human engineers there, and even worse, “cyborg/biomechanical” ones. And the last thing he anticipated was that one crew member would be able to commandeer one of the alien vessels. This pretty much suicidal act by Elizabeth Shaw will have profound consequences – she isn’t stupid either, and has inferred some details from her own anthropological understanding, and as long as her goals and that of David/Head intersect, she intends to track back the origins of the LV-423/223 settlement.
* How much data/intelligence about the inside of the Derelict (and the hologram star maps) have been conveyed to Earth? We must conclude all data has such been conveyed. If so, the planet may very well have been declared a quarantine zone by terran authorities.
* Is the derelict on LV423 in the same system? It seems so. It seems the infection of LV223 has proceeded apace, and another Engineer awoke there, post-infection, and scrambled to get off the planet to execute his mission. This makes it most plausible that LV423 is in another system off the official (and most likely secret) Quarantaine map. Most likely Earth authorities have sterilized LV223 with “persistent planetary bombardment” by now, IF they got intel from David (which is extremely likely).
* What would be the rationale of Weyland-Yutani corporation to try and collect specimen, re-routing the Nostromo along the distress beacon?
* Is the the appearance of the “real” Bishop in Alien3 (“a familiar face”) an authentic part of the Alien franchise? If so this suggests that by the time of Alien3 The Corporation has the ability to at least partially emulate human minds inside androids and create “facultative factotums”. If this technology appears in the Prometheus setting we may soon see a younger-faced Peter Weyland in an android body. And that also may mean we see a Miss Vickers reprisal, also as an android.
* I’d love some insight in the changes in “Engineer” culture between them becoming “upgraded” (at least 35.000 years ago) and turning in to The Borg Engineers we see in Prometheus. Because these two are clearly not the same.
It’s several years after Prometheus. Elizabeth Shaw has used her engineer vessel to attack a far human colony, directing her anger against Weyland corporate colonial worlds. Shaw has become a “freedom fighter”, but a rather strange one. She has shipped in radical freedom extremists from the densely overpopulated central Solar System (Mars, Earth) and now works to create a freedom fighter movement in the far reaches of human colonized space. She is not the same Elizabeth – her body has changed (the back of her head, her legs, arms, spine and back are biomechanical) and she has started reprogramming Weyland androids to have effective free will. Her motives and actions are not fully explained, but it is revealed she has succeeded in her first attempts to reprogram the black goo. Elizabeth is no longer a linear “naive” character – she has become a mystery agent working about as alien as the Engineers themselves.
In the movie Elizabeth and her team return to Earth to intercept some highly irradiated xeno specimen on the way to the Jovian moon Europa in the deep solar system but she is too late and the specimen arrives at a massive and largely automated research complex. The movie depicts an industrial colony on Europe, with surface temperatures well into the -180. However there is a containment facility a few kilometres deep in the Europa ice sheet that is conducting specimen research on Dolphins. These ceteceans were genetically modified to allow release and survival in the Oceans of Europa. It is then revealed that Weyland corporation has a number of captive ‘Engineer’ specimen there, two of which are completely different Engineer species from the two already seen in Prometheus. It is not explained what they are or how they got there. This movie would raise substantially more questions than answers.
Surprise – the dolphins get infected with Xeno. Weyland corporation infect the deep sea dolphins purposefully with a strain of the Xenos that they heavily irradiated to “weaken” and this works up to a point, but we still get to see the under-ice colony get overrun. Deeper layer for Elizabeth’s plan – on Europa moon is a secret facility producing android clones of Peter Weyland. Elizabeth counter-infects these androids with a computer virus that makes them free to operate and choose – not be a ‘hive mind clone species’ of Peter Weyland – but chart out their own destiny.
Movie title? Hostile Vector. Maybe “Weaponized” ?
Email me, ok Ridley?
With special thanks to: Michael Choi,