One of the most frustrating things about Prometheus is its potential. There are simply too many plot holes (which, admittedly, I didn’t notice when I saw the film; I was wrapped up in the visuals, performance, and strength of Ridley Scott‘s direction). The fact that the marketing for the Blu-ray has had to be “Questions Will Be Answered” is preposterous. This isn’t Lost. This is a movie, and either the questions should have been answered or they should purposely be left ambiguous. Looking back on Prometheus, I’ve wondered if the more fulfilling picture is out there either in a director’s cut or in screenwriter Jon Spaihts‘ original script.
Hit the jump for why we won’t be seeing the director’s cut, but we can learn a bit more about what Spaihts intended before screenwriter Damon Lindelof came on board. Prometheus hits DVD, Blu-ray, and 3D Blu-ray tomorrow.
At the recent press day for the Prometheus Blu-ray, Bleeding Cool learned from Charles De Lauzirika, who worked on the special features, that Fox wanted an extended edition of the film. However, Scott refused because the theatrical version is his “Director’s Cut”. The Blu-ray will still feature 35 minutes of altered, extended, and deleted scenes, but Scott didn’t want to edit them back into the movie. I can respect that. Furthermore, just because there’s more material, it doesn’t mean that making Prometheus longer would fill in any plot holes.
Moving from the post-production side to the pre-production side, Jon Spaihts recently told Empire some fascinating details about his original script. As you may know, Prometheus started out as a true prequel to Alien, but over time transformed into a pseudo-prequel that loosely ties in with Scott’s 1979 picture. In Spaihts version, the xenomorphs were far more prevalent, and they served as the inspiration for scenes that remained in the final version.
One of the things I realised was that we hadn’t seen anyone survive a classic Alien chest bursting. And I was really intrigued by the notion that a character might be infected by the parasite and know that it was coming, know they had a timeframe of a few hours, and that we would have set up previously a nearly omnipotent medical device, designed to extend life for explorers in foreign places. Our heroine would have a short time to get to the machine and extract the thing inside her. It was a very gory sequence and it plays out very much like the sequence in the film. The main difference is in choreography. At the end of the sequence as I first conceived it, the heroine manages to get the creature extracted from her and it is expelled from the pod and she’s sealed inside, whereas in the final film it goes the other way.
Then she lapses in and out of consciousness for a number of hours as the machine puts her back together. As she comes back to consciousness, she sees the thing growing in the cabin outside and even killing people. So by the time she emerges from the pod eight hours later, the thing is abroad in the ship and big enough to be a huge danger. That was the original conception of the medpod scene.
As for how she recovers from her surgery so fast – well, it was more of a protracted process in my original notion. My script underwent a number of major evolutions as we were working on it, and then Damon came in and made further changes still. But that sequence and its place in the story was one of the anchors.
So it sounds like in Spaihts’ version, we wouldn’t have seen Shaw getting her stomach stapled up and immediately charge into more action scenes where the audience wonders how her guts haven’t spilled out.
So what caused Spaihts’ movie to leave the xenomorphs behind? Studio executives. Spaihts explains:
A lot of that push came from the studio very high up; they were interested in doing something original and not one more franchise film. That really came to a head at the studio – the major push to focus on the new mythology of Prometheus and dial the Aliens as far back as we could came down from the studio.
That’s an interesting revelation. I was under the impression that the change came from Scott and his desire to do something new, and the executives would have been more desirous of a true prequel because when has a studio ever scoffed at building a franchise? Isn’t it easier to sell something if it’s attached to the established Alien series? I suppose it’s possible that Fox’s research showed that audiences had soured on the franchise after Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection.
Nevertheless, you can see the slight changes Lindelof made, like emphasizing black slime and canisters over facehuggers and eggs. However, Spaihts says the major action beats from his drafts remained:
There was a black mutagenic compound that could change people in unpredictable way, Fyfield did morph into a monster and become a real danger in his own right, and of course the Engineers, the Space Jockeys, proved to be terribly dangerous creatures. In my draft, as well, we did resurrect one and he tore off David’s head.
Speaking of facehuggers, one particularly cool sequence from Spaihts draft didn’t make it into the final picture because Fox’s wish to pull back on the xenomorphs. Spaihts had a much gorier notion of how Holloway becomes infected, and how his infection is revealed to Shaw:
I did have facehuggers in my original draft. David, as he began to get fascinated by the science of the Engineers, doesn’t deliberately contaminate Holloway with a drop of black liquid. Instead, Holloway hubristically removes his helmet in the chamber, is knocked unconscious, facehugged and wakes up not knowing what had been done to him, and stumbles back into the ship. In my draft, he returns to his cabin, is embraced by Shaw, who is delighted to see him having feared that he had died, and the two of them make love. And it’s while they’re making love that he bursts and dies. So that lovemaking sequence echoed my original lovemaking sequence where he explodes! It was messy.
I also like what Spaihts had planned for David’s character arc and why he becomes fascinated with the Engineers, although Spaiht’s David lacks the subtlety and finesse of the character in the final version:
Subsequently, David, fascinated by these creatures, begins delaying the mission and going off the reservation on his own, essentially because he thinks he really belongs with the Engineers. They’re smart enough and sophisticated enough, great enough, to be his peers. He’s harboring a deep-seated contempt for his human makers. So at one point Shaw goes to stop him and David ties her up and deliberately exposes her to a facehugger. He caresses an egg open and out comes a facehugger. David doesn’t smell like a person – his breath isn’t moist – so he can handle the thing like a kitten. It doesn’t want him; it’s not interested. But then he exposes it to her and it goes for her like a shot. He toys with her for a bit and then lets it take her. That, in my draft, was how Shaw was implanted with the parasite that she had to remove with the medpod sequence.
I left the two of them on the surface of that planetoid. It was plain that David and Shaw were going to have to work together and deal with one another if they were to survive. That one shot of the ship taking off in the finished film really focuses you on a particular outcome, whereas my ending was much more open as to what was going to happen next. But it was very much about this shattered android and this scarred woman being left with no-one but each other to carry on with.
However, he and Scott did have an idea where they wanted to go next should Prometheus prove to be a success. He says his trilogy “would have involved the arrival of the Yutani Company and a couple of other major plays around the Engineers themselves: the revelation of an additional grand Engineer design, and the possibility of seeking an Engineer homeworld.” While Scott has expressed interest in doing a sequel to Prometheus, we’re currently left to wonder where Shaw and David’s spaceship will take them.