Almost outright acknowledging the lingering questions about Ridley Scott’s recent sci-fi epic; the promotion for the Prometheus DVD/Blu-ray release carries the tagline that “questions will be answered,” which is most certainly not the same as making excuses or explaining the movie.
And while there are tons of bonus features (almost 7 hours!) on the 4-disc Blu-ray, the director’s commentary track from Ridley Scott might be all you really need. Thankfully, not only does Scott answer some big continuity questions about the film and its placement in the Alien mythos, he does it by accident, while ranting in a marvelously bonkers tone of voice.
Here are some highlights of what I learned about Prometheus, Pink Floyd, blond robots, the f-word and more! All from my main man, Ridley Scott.
Lots of spoilers for Prometheus ahead.
The Engineer dying at the start spreads DNA... somewhere
Initially, he describes The Engineer dying scene as a “seeding” of whatever “rock” he is on. Scott doesn’t claim it’s necessarily Earth. At this point in the commentary, he already seems annoyed that we all assumed it was definitely Earth.
David IS a replicant (Peter O’Toole, too!)
In the early David scenes, Ridley Scott definitely uses the word “replicant” to describe Fassbender’s robot, further cementing the notions of a pseudo-shared universe between Prometheus/Alien and Blade Runner. He also claims Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) from Lawrence of Arabia is soulless, like David. You get the sense that it was possible Scott was just planning a Lawrence of Arabia reboot and decided to do Prometheus at the last second.
The planet in Alien is not the same planet as the one in Prometheus
Early in the director’s commentary, Ridley Scott confirms that the planet from Alien was LV426 BUT in Prometheus the planet is LV223. (He calls this number “romantic.”) Presumably this is still in the Acheron star system from the first Alien movie. So how did the xenomorphs get off LV223 and over to LV426? Well, later in the commentary, Scott says the decision to not have things take place on the same planet was intentional. He says he didn’t like the idea of the Nostromo picking up a signal from the same ship in Prometheus because it was “Too neat. Too clean.”
He suggests that other “misfortunates” have died trying to get at secrets in this star system. Most importantly, he says the spaceship located by Tom Skerritt and co. in Alien was set down by an Engineer not because of a crash-landing, but because the Space Jockey had indigestion. (This is likely a joke about the chest-burster. Good one, Ridley.) But really, this means the xenomorphs came from LV233 and then got inside other Engineers who set down on a different planet. And that’s the planet everyone goes to in Alien. So the planets are neighbors. This is why no one is where they are “supposed” to be at the end of the movie.
The whole of Prometheus came from Ridley Scott wondering about the Space Jockey
During the Prometheus landing sequence, Scott says that the more they wrote this film, the more “Alien flew away.” He also asserts (as he did in interviews before) that he was really surprised that no one in the Alien sequels ever wondered about the Space Jockey and what happened to him. He also asserts that by the end of the movie, “you find out.” Um?
Ridley Scott is really pleased with his vision/tells the world to f*ck off
During the section of the movie when Scott is describing the nifty floating scanning balls, and holographic table on the bridge of the Prometheus he goes on what can only be called a rant. He basically asserts a lot of people challenged him on certain design elements. People who are either “inexperienced” or “fundamentally stupid.” But he insisted on the floating balls saying: “every kid will want one of the floating balls,” lamenting that they don't exist but that he’ll “sell them through NASA.” Apparently he told a lot of people to “shut the fuck up” when they opposed a holographic table. You go, Ridley. You go.
All blond people are robots
Because both Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron were blond, Scott decided it would be fun to suggest they were “like clone brother and sister." Blond people are robots. Duh! He seems to think it’s funny that we might think Charlize Theron is a robot. He also doesn’t explain if she is or not. Ridley Scott, are you a robot? Somebody get Deckard in here right now.
Later, Scott suggests that Charlize Theron's character maybe is indeed a robot. Because a lot of “company men” are robots. He says this acknowledges Ash from the first Alien film.
Ridley Scott helps me justify my belief in unreal things
You heard it here first folks: “We can’t terraform yet, but we know it exists.” Now that is a sweet notion. I also can’t see unicorns yet, but I know they exist, so I totally agree with him. (I know what he meant, but it sounded hilariously absurd.)
There is a “weird section” of the internet where Ridley gets stuff
The black goo David touches is actually corn oil, which is apparently sitting on top of a speaker, which makes “weird designs” as a result of a “sonic boom.” Scott said he found this cheap speaker on a “weird section of the internet.” Scott then trails off saying something about “worm design.” Where is this weird section of the internet? I want in, Ridley!
The big hologram scene was filmed to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
In the totally beautiful scene where David hangs around in the nifty hologram room Ridley Scott challenges us with the taunt “don’t you want one of these in your car?” Having a giant floating hologram with star maps in your car is kind of cool, but I guess I’d be worried about having to carpool with one of the Engineers as a trade-off.
Anyway, Scott gives us an awesome tidbit in this scene. Because the initial filming did not include a real hologram, Michael Fassbender was reacting to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon to get in the mood. There you go, internet: start making mash-up videos with Prometheus and Dark Side of the Moon. (Note: At this point in commentary, Ridley Scott is referring to Michael Fassbender as “David,” exclusively.)
Charlize Theron really burned that dude
Ridley Scott says he thinks Charlize Theron was really reacting emotionally to shooting the flamethrower at Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). He told Charlize “you’re going to burn him now.” And Charlize Theron really shot that flame-thrower. When Ridley tells you to burn, you burn.
There were three other Engineers asleep on the spaceship, but they’re dead now
And Ridley Scott doesn’t want to “get into it.” There you go: they just died. Be quiet. Ridley then starts complimenting his own movie and saying “marvelous.” Seriously he just said “look at that!” and “amazing!”
Ridley Scott thinks your kids can (should?) watch the gory self-surgery scene, because they’ll all watch Prometheus anyway.
At first, our wonderful director mentions that he believes in film ratings and limiting what people could see in a theatre or on public television. But then, as if he’s arguing with himself, he turns on a dime completely and points out “...but you can watch a caesarian [section] on reality TV.” So really, what’s the difference between watching that and Dr. Shaw remove the squid baby? Ridley doesn’t think there is one. Further, he says “every kid under the sun is going to see this anyway.”
Cyber-Yachts were cut from the movie (or were they?)
Guy Pearce’s Weyland was at one point going to be depicted as a younger man in “cyber-sleep.” The scene he describes would have involved the dream of a young Weyland on a “cyber yacht” in the “Cyber-Mediterranean” with “lots of cyber girls.” I seriously couldn’t tell if Ridley Scott was kidding or not.
Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace weren’t sure why they were running
In a mock-imitation of the actor’s voices, Ridley says Theron and Rapace said “why do we have to do this again?” in reference to the scene in which Vickers and Shaw run away from the giant tumbling spaceship. But in true Ridley form he says “You gotta stick to your guns,” closely followed by his trademark humble appraisal of the movie: “looks good though, innit?”
Apparently Grey Goose or Smirnoff executives are kicking themselves right now
Just before Noomi Rapace wields her axe in Vicker’s life pod, she has a swig of vodka. Ridley Scott thinks vodka companies screwed up by not going along with his product placement ideas in the scene. I mean why wouldn’t Grey Goose want you to associate drinking their product with a giant fighting a giant squid baby and somebody swinging an axe around?
Ridley claims the fact that Noomi kind of looks like Sigourney in certain scenes was “not intentional”
Ridley, I love you, but yeah, right.
Ridley Scott wants to do a Prometheus sequel NOW
He says he had so much fun doing this movie, he wants to do the next one as soon as possible. And if he’s “very clever” maybe a sequel after that.
Whew! Say what you will about Prometheus, the Ridley Scott show is super entertaining.
Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com and loved his time with Ridley very much.