Ridley Scott is frustrating more than a few times over. The filmmaker, while well-respected and considered one of the greatest living directors in some corners of the world, he arguably has an impressive but uneven career (see our retrospective for that argument), and only a few unimpeachable touchstones to his name. “Alien” and “Blade Runner” are obviously two of them, and having already fumbled pretty hard with his not-a-prequel “Alien” prequel “Prometheus,” Scott is attempting to pull off a sequel to “Blade Runner.”
In a recent interview with Metro U.K. the filmmaker discussed both the “Blade Runner” sequel and the continuation of the “Prometheus” story which will further veer off course from the “Alien” saga to tell a different kind of tale altogether (or so they say).
“ ‘Prometheus’ evolved into a whole other universe,” Scott said of the way the narrative moves away from the “Alien” origin. Although earlier, he contradicts himself and admits, “…no one else had addressed the [‘Alien’] origin question and I thought that was interesting to tackle.”
“You’ve got a person [Noomi Rapace] with a head in a bag [Michael Fassbender’s David] that functions and has an IQ of 350,” he continued about the conclusion of “Prometheus” and where it could possibly go from there. “It can explain to her how to put the head back on the body and she’s gonna think about that long and hard because, once the head is back on his body, he’s dangerous. They’re going off to paradise but it could be the most savage, horrible place. Who are the Engineers?”
So lots of not-so-subtle hints of what’s next in “Prometheus 2.” Asked about the “Blade Runner” sequel he said, “It’s not a rumor – it’s happening. With Harrison Ford? I don’t know yet. Is he too old? Well, he was a Nexus-6 so we don’t know how long he can live [laughs]. And that’s all I’m going to say at this stage.”
That’s all you’re going to say? It’s kind of laughable as Scott’s comments only serve to remind us that the filmmaker doesn’t seem to understand the power of ambiguity and mystery, like some of the true classics of sci-fi.
First off, yes, Harrison Ford’s character Deckard was a replicant — surprise, surprise if you’re not a hardcore fan who’s known this for years. This isn’t exactly new. Scott’s said this several times in the past, going as far back as 2000. Ironic considering the director’s cut of “Blade Runner” is far more alluring and opaque (in a good way) with its lack of spoon-feeding voice-over and its dream sequences that seem to suggest Deckard is actually a replicant. But the beauty of “Blade Runner” (besides its incredible possession of mood, tone and atmosphere, still almost unparalleled to this day) is in regards to the uncertain identity of Deckard, something that adds yet another level of mystique to the dystopian story.
But of course, by not letting that remain enigmatic (and therefore beautiful and striking), Scott ruined this surprise ages ago, which frankly separates him from the masters of our time. (For instance, Christopher Nolan is not going to tell you what happens with the totem at the end of “Inception” because that would defeat the point, obviously. Stanley Kubrick didn’t exactly spell out what happened in “2001: A Space Odyssey” either.)
Scott should understand this, but evidently it’s not clear at all and instead of creating epics for audiences to ponder for ages, he’s seemingly stuck on forging clue-based puzzles with concrete, discoverable answers. “Prometheus” was maddening and uneven, but the various questions it raises were its strength. Who were those guys at the beginning? What was the weird black goo they swallowed, and was it some sort of suicide or sacrifice? What planet was that? How did they tie into the rest of the story? Etc. etc. And one by one, Scott, in various interviews (including this one in particular) has revealed exactly what he meant and what happened (and in the recent “Prometheus” DVD commentary track he basically answers and responds to all these questions in one nice neat package).
Even more, the film’s Facebook page released some cryptic “Prometheus” viral infographic about the etymology of the “black goo” that is a supposed hint and tease at “Prometheus 2” (see below). But really, given Scott’s track record, isn’t this just going to be another solvable clue in the next film that some geeks are going to uncover? To the filmmakers, this is probably part of the fun, but to this writer, it once again just re-addresses the fact that genuine masters of cinema would rather let audiences come to their own conclusions about purposefully enigmatic pieces of art rather than spell them out later so fans won’t be… irritated.
We’re not sure what the impetus is, but frankly, it’s rather disheartening. Wouldn’t it be nice to lock Damon Lindelof in a room and say, “Dude, even though we thought ‘Prometheus’ the script was a mess, it hinted and played with some great themes and ideas, how do you feel about Scott letting out the cat out of the bag for almost every secret contained therein?” As a writer who likes to hew close to almost maddening ambiguity (no one would be dumb enough to try and explain the ending of “Lost” for example or even the abstract ending of “The Sopranos”), one would think Scott’s approach is completely antithetical to Lindelof’s.
“Prometheus” is on DVD/Blu-ray now. If you want every single clue revealed, just listen to the commentary track. We promise you it won’t be as satisfying as the questions your imagination raised. Constant complaining, or do we just expect much, much more from the guy who created “Blade Runner” and “Alien”? Or does the emperor truly have no clothes?