For those who don’t know, Prometheus is a new sci-fi thriller directed by Ridley Scott. Since it first went into development, the film has been touted as Scott’s return to “the genre he redefined” with films like Blade Runner and Alien. (That would be, well, Sci-Fi). The film has also been rumored to be a prequel to Scott’s own Alien film. Up to this point, fans have been given very little a few leaked photos, some official photos, a poster, and lots and lots of speaking through the media (by Scott, the writer Damon Lindelof, and Fox studios).
And now, with the release of the teaser trailer, we finally get a glimpse of the actual film.
Thoughts and theories are coalescing in my brain faster than Bishop dancing a knife through Hudson’s fingers, so it’s really hard to know where to begin, but I’ll give it a go.
Here’s what we know for sure. Based solely on what’s in this trailer, the public statements that Prometheus is not overtly, but subtly connected to the Alien films are complete rubbish. This film appears to be, absolutely and completely a prequel to Alien. By my count, there are at least 12 overt references to Scott’s 1979 film.
I’m going to get a little inside baseball here, so I’ve not only sited the time codes to the moments in the Prometheus trailer I’m going to discuss, but for your reference, I’m also going to provide links to photos or include the time codes to the moments they directly correlate to in the 1979 Alien trailer.
The Letters (0:17)
One of the most recognizable stylistic executions in both the original Alien and its trailer is how the title of the film slowly builds itself through linear connections. The Prometheus title is revealed the same way in its trailer. (Alien Trailer, 0:14)
The Alien Tunnel (0:26)
Outside of the Xenomorph (the name of the alien creature from the series), the face huggers, and the eggs, one of the few distinguishable elements in all four Alien films (no…I do not…in any way count the two Alien vs. Predator flicks as part of the series) is the insect-esque alien tunnels. Although never fully explained, these ribbed, and spine-like caverns have always led the given film’s humans (or prey) towards danger. Either to a cavernous chamber filled with eggs, the evil mother alien, or just a nest of Xenomorphs. (Alien Trailer, 1:11)
The Darkness (0:28)
Another stylistic choice Scott appropriated from his own 1979 film is his liberal use of overbearing darkness. Many of the original’s most suspenseful moments play out in dimly lit or pitch-black caverns, hallways, and air ducts, usually lit by a flashlight, strobe light, flame, or…
The Space Suits
…a single light attached to a bulky bulbuls headed space suit. All prevalent throughout the Prometheus trailer. (Alien trailer, 1:01 and 1:05)
The Medical Station (0:34)
This might be the biggest stretch of the bunch, but the layout, the outfits, and the medical table are extremely reminiscent of the room where Dallas and Ash performed their examination of Kane after he’d been face hugged. (Example from Alien here.)
The Flashing Lights and Hallway Run (0:36)
Some of the most intense moments of the original are when Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is trying to escape her ship The Nostromo before it self-destructs or before she’s mauled by the Xenomorph. Scott’s hand held camera runs with her through dark, narrow hallways as gasses spew from valves and a warning strobe lights taunt her every step. The moment with Charlize Theron is eerily analogous. (Alien Trailer, 0:54)
The Control Panel and Video Screen (0:37)
The dingy, non-high-tech looking control panel and “emergency tape” framed video screen is similar to the Nostromo’s cockpit. (Example from Alien here.)
The White Padded Walls (0:42)
Although subtle, these are by far the most overt homage to Scott’s 1979 film. In Alien, the walls of the more domesticated areas of the Nostromo (dinning, sleeping, medical, etc…) were lined with angular white padding. The doorway and walls, framing the collapse of the scantily clad Lass look almost the same. (Alien Trailer, 1:14 and 1:31)
The Screeching/Alarm Sound Effect (0:53)
Of all the references and call-backs, this is by far my favorite. This sound effect is so specific to the Alien series, but oddly enough was never actually used in the 1979 film. It’s unique to the film’s trailer. So by recycling it here, Scott is intentionally connecting Prometheus with Alien. (Alien Trailer, Starting at :50)
The Space Jockey’s Chair and Ship (0:44)
This is where the tie between the Alien and Prometheus becomes oh-c’mon-man undeniable.