Ridley Scott directed the science fiction classics Blade Runner (1982) and Alien (1979) but with his long-awaited return to that genre, Prometheus, he explains his belief that life on other planets is science fact.
”It just becomes logic to look into the galaxy and think we can’t be the only life form sitting here right now – that’s ridiculous,” the 74-year-old British director says a little gruffly.
”I remember talking to [astronomer, NASA adviser and author] Carl Sagan after the premiere of Alien and he said, ‘The premise is ridiculous, of course,’ and I said ‘Lighten up Carl, it’s a movie.’ Later he wrote a bloody good book, Contact, that ended 12 years before the aliens were coming … so I think deep down he really believed that was possible, too.”
Scott’s latest sci-fi epic follows a team of explorers that includes archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) after they discover an ancient mural in Scotland in 2089, which they believe is a clue to the origins of humankind on Earth. Backed by a mysterious corporation represented by ruthless executive Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and android David (Michael Fassbender), and under the instruction of its elderly founder (Guy Pearce), the group embarks on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe and discovers a shocking secret.
The foreboding tension of Alien and Aliens, its sequel, is ever present. The chest-bursting aliens that left their indelible mark on science fiction are surely around the corner.
Scott first conceived of the film as a straight Alien prequel but abandoned that story early in development for a plot that touches on religious and spiritual themes, as well as the prerequisite alien DNA of that successful franchise.
”I am not a scientist but I look into things a lot and, occasionally, I get a group of guys from NASA to come in and chat,” he says. ”So I had six of them and I asked, ‘Who’s religious in here?’ and they paused and three of them said they were. One of them was a math and quantum physics guy and I thought that was really funny and interesting.”
Scott talks quickly, touching on a dazzling array of topics that range from film to evolution. ”Prometheus was an immortal demigod,” he says of the symbolism of the film‘s title and the spaceship‘s name. ”He challenged the gods by sharing the gift of fire with humans, which was our first technology and what helped us evolve so quickly. When you burn your fingers and then you find a tree that’s been burning and has fallen and killed an antelope and then you touch the meat and the meat smells good so you eat it, already you’re evolving; so it’s going back to basics like that.”
The prolific director was initially eager to follow in the footsteps of his father, a brigadier in the British Army during World War II, but his father convinced him to go to art school instead. After graduating from the Royal College of Art, Scott started as a set designer and gradually moved into commercials, an experience he has described as his ”film school”.
He made his directing debut in 1977 with The Duellists and his next two films were Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver, and Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford. Other films include Thelma & Louise (1991), Gladiator (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001) and American Gangster (2007). When Scott is asked about his own religious background, he’s candid. ”I grew up as a choirboy in the Protestant Church of England and the time I spent in church leaves a mark on you,” he says.
”I think what you learn from religion is the fundamentals of right and wrong and I do think humans have souls … but we don’t know where they come from and that’s the big question, right? In fact, we really don’t know that much at all.”
GENRE Science fiction.CRITICAL BUZZ Ridley Scott returning to the genre he does best is expected to rule the box office.STARS Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce.DIRECTOR Ridley Scott.RATED MA15+.RELEASE Now screening.
JENNY COONEY CARRILLO – COASTAL TIMES