It’s Alien but still familiar
After all these years this movie franchise is doing well, writes
ALTHOUGH the movie has become a modern classic and been celebrated for its unique blend of horror and science-fiction, Scott couldn’t stop thinking about the one, gigantic question that Alien and its five sequels failed to address: Who was the Space Jockey?
In the original Alien, a team of humans aboard the space vessel Nostromo investigate a distress call and discover an abandoned alien craft. Sitting inside is what appears to be the skeletal remains of a 9-foot-tall pilot of some sort. This is the Space Jockey, a name supposedly given by a film crew member who scribbled it on a storyboard, which suggests the Jockey was not even important enough to be given a name in the script. (Chad?)
What’s most relevant about the Space Jockey, for Alien at least, is that something appears to have burst out of its rib cage, giving the first hint of the horrors to come.
Then the Space Jockey is completely forgotten, as Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and the rest of the crew spend the remainder of the movie battling the H.R. Giger-designed creature with seriously terrible dental hygiene (known to fans as a xenomorph).
Ridley Scott, however, never let the mystery of the Space Jockey go.
‘‘Who was he? Where was he from? What was his mission? What kind of technology would his kind possess?’’ Scott asks. ‘‘I thought those questions could provide a springboard for even larger ideas.’’
Those ‘‘larger ideas’’ ended up as Prometheus, Scott’s return to the genre – science fiction – that launched his career and a chance to once again play in the Alien sandbox.
Never mind the Space Jockey. The big question on everyone else’s mind is: How does Prometheus connect to Alien?
When Scott began developing the project a decade ago, it was originally planned as a direct prequel to the 1979 movie. Jon Spaihts wrote a first draft that contained all of the familiar elements from the franchise, including face-huggers, chest-bursting, acid blood and xenomorphs. Damon Lindelof, the mastermind of TV’s Lost, was later hired to revise Spaihts’ script.
‘‘They were looking for a version that stripped away all of its prequelness and fleshing out the big idea in the script more so the movie could sink or swim on its own without being married to those others,’’ Lindelof says. ‘‘But at the same time, it’s Ridley Scott doing science-fiction, so pay homage to those movies, don’t strip it all away, but rebalance it and change the focus of it.’’