The countdown to Prometheus gathers apace.
As well as a bunch of new images and an international poster, inevitably, another viral has been released. And like the Weyland TED Talk, Unboxing David/Our Family Is Growing and Happy Birthday David virals before it– this latest is hugely interesting.
The new viral – Quiet Eye - takes the form of a private ‘transmission’ between Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) – whose archaeological discoveries ignite Prometheus’s mission – and, weirdly, the ‘answering machine’ of Peter Weyland. Weird, because Weyland would be dead long before Prometheus’s own time frame (2089-2093).
In the transmission Shaw reveals her personal belief (or is it hope), that human beings are not the highest sentient beings in the universe. So far, so predictable.
The idea of a link or contact between humanity and extraterrestials is an ancient one, conceptualised by everyone from the Mayans, to some New Age thinkers who insist Elijah’s chariot was in fact a spaceship, Whitley Strieber and numerous authors, Carl Sagan, Steven Spielberg, Scientologists – right through to David Ike and billions of post-Internet believers since.
In fact, in an insightful THR piece on director Sir Ridley Scott, the veteran auteur talks again about how Prometheus is less a prequel to Alien, and more an extrapolation on the ideas contained in Erich von Daniken’s 1968 book Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past.
Nutshelled, Daniken’s book explored the idea that specific structures and places on earth – such as the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge – were in fact alien artefacts that couldn’t possibly have been built with the technology available to laborers at the time of their construction.
That book, and Daniken, were eventually disproved by others (as far as traditionalists in the scientific community were concerned), while subsequent accusations of plagiarism besmirched Daniken’s reputation even further. But we digress.
To Scott and Prometheus co-writers Damon Lindelof and Jon Sphaits, the ideas in Daniken’s book served as the perfect jump-off point for the movie, and a core belief of its heroine – Shaw. In Quiet Eye, Shaw’s beliefs are delivered with an almost childlike tone and emotion, unusual for a scientist, but as Shaw explains, “There’s a difference between what a scientist knows and what they believe.”
Curiouser still, is the metamorphosis that occurs in the viral. As we watch Shaw’s ‘transmission’, a mirror image of Shaw morphs through different likenesses. It’s almost as if the silent Weyland Industries observer (s) – Quiet Eye? – are trying out the concept of metamorphosis for size. Which, of course, would mean they already know the fate awaiting the Prometheus crew on LV-233?
Artist H.R Giger’s vision of a monstrous bio-mechanoid xenomorph and the world they inhabit – a vision, Scott told THR he found “f –king astounding”– sits at diametric odds with Shaw’s quasi-spiritual longing. Eons away from Spielberg’s 1982 E.T. The Extra-Terrestial, clumsy psyche could lay Scott’s darker vision at the door of the constant anger he admits to, or the depression he keeps at bay.
Whatever. A filmmaker – especially a consummate one – is free to explore any concepts they choose to. But something tells me no matter how much I’ll undoubtedly marvel at Prometheus when it touches down in cinemas, part of me will always wonder what Shaw’s vision would have looked like in Scott’s hands. In Scott’s universe loving the alien is an act of fatal folly; yet one we’re irresistibly drawn to discovering.
New Prometheus Viral: Quiet Eye
Prometheus hits theaters June 1 in the UK and June 8 in the U.S.