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Prometheus

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Earlier this week, a fan site published an early draft of a script for Prometheus, revealing plot points and alien creatures that never appeared in Ridley Scott's final version. Titled Alien: Engineers, the script was penned by Jon Spaihts before Lost creator Damon Lindelof eventually took over, and includes new plot twists involving alien parasites and even Facehuggers.

On Sunday, Spaihts confirmed via Twitter that the script is indeed "authentic," and later told Wired that he wasn't upset about the leak, describing it as a testament to Ridley Scott fandom. "The interest in the script speaks, more than anything, to their love of the film and the Alien universe," Spaihts explained. "It’s really just an aspect of their fandom for the...

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Michael Fassbender in Prometheus.

It's no secret that science and the entertainment industry aren't always the best of bedfellows. Back in 2009, I reported from that year's AAAS meeting on NSF's program to encourage responsible science in Hollywood. Then, the message was clear. Hollywood is interested in telling a story, and if scientific accuracy gets in the way, well, it's getting run right over. But after finally seeing Prometheus this past weekend, I've come to realize that the industry's contempt for even vaguely plausible science all-but-guarantees I won't be able to suspend my disbelief. And it doesn't have to be like this.

Warning: spoilers will follow.

My problems with the film began almost immediately. A Lord of the Rings-inspired panoramic landscape gives way to a humanoid standing by a waterfall. He drinks some black goop, and then his DNA begins to fall apart, followed quickly by the rest of him. This mess all dissolves into the river, et voilà—the implication is that humans arose because of this. Just five minutes in and my brain is already beginning to push back against this dreck.

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via img.gawkerassets.com

We've been eagerly following Prometheus, the Ridley Scott space epic, so we're glad to see io9 give us a chat with its writer, Jon Spaihts. While Spaihts' answers to anything plot-related are decidedly terse, he has some excellent observations on video game storytelling ("In games, sci-fi's easier to achieve than mundane reality"), building human-level emotion into sprawling blockbusters, and the benefits of double-checking the science in science fiction. "For too many filmmakers, 'sci-fi' means 'anything goes," he says, "which leads in turn to arbitrary chains of events, or story rules that feel inconsistent or muddy. Story flourishes under constraint." It's even spoiler-free, unless you didn't want to know that Prometheus would have...

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This is an image of Saturn showing its rings and the shadows of the rings below, but also of Titan and Prometheus. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, looks small here, pictured to the right the giant Saturn in this Cassini spacecraft view. Can you find the moon Prometheus (only 53 miles across)? It appears as a tiny white speck above the rings in the far upper right of the image.

The dozens of icy moons orbiting Saturn vary drastically in shape, size, surface age and origin. Some of these worlds have hard, rough surfaces, while others are porous bodies coated in a fine blanket of icy particles. Some, like Dione and Tethys, show evidence of tectonic activity, where forces from within ripped apart their surfaces. Some appear to have formed billions of years ago, while others, like Janus and Epimetheus, might have originally been part of larger bodies. The study and comparison of these moons tells scientists about the history of the Saturn System and the solar system. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 5, 2012.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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The teaser trailer for Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus — his return to the narrative landscape of his 1979 film Alien — was one of the best teasers we’ve seen in a long time. We have no idea if the script, heavily revised by Damon Lindelof from John Spaihts‘ original draft, is any good, or if the picture will hold a candle to Alien. But damn, it looks beautiful.

Here’s something that will give you a slightly better idea of what’s going on in Prometheus, however. It isn’t a trailer, and it isn’t footage from the film. Rather, it is something that plays right into the rumor that surfaced yesterday about the character played by Guy Pearce. What we’ve got is a TED Talk… from 2023. Check it out below.

As mentioned above, note that this is a promo clip only — as you’ll see in the credits below, it wasn’t directed by Ridley Scott, though he did oversee it. It does not appear in Prometheus.

So that’s Peter Weyland of Weyland Corp, aka one of the two companies that joined together to eventually become Weyland-Yutani, the corporate entity that plays a huge part in the Alien series. What does he have to do with the story in Prometheus? That talk should have given you a pretty good idea; it certainly doesn’t leave much to the imagination with respect to the legend of Prometheus and this film’s story.

Here’s what the TED page for this talk offers:

Peter Weyland has been a magnet for controversy since he announced his intent to build the first convincingly humanoid robotic system by the end of the decade.

Whether challenging the ethical boundaries of medicine with nanotechnology or going toe to toe with the Vatican itself on the issue of gene-therapy sterilization, Sir Peter prides himself on his motto, “If we can, we must.” After a three year media blackout, Weyland has finally emerged to reveal where he’s heading next. Wherever that may be, we will most certainly want to follow.

Conceived and designed by Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof and directed by Luke Scott.

There is more info about Peter Weyland at that page, too. And if you want more background on this clip, writer Damon Lindelof has a Q&A at TED where he talks about creating the video. He explains, in part,

I said, “l’ll write this thing, and we’ll put it in front of you guys, and if you think it’s cool, we would love to platform it at TED, and make it only viewable through TED.” Because I liked the idea of exposing a more general audience to, “Wait a minute, I’ve never heard of this thing. There’s more talks here.” I thought it could be mutually beneficial — as opposed to overtly cram-it-down-your-face viral marketing, which I don’t think anyone wanted to do.

Ridley Scott directed Prometheus; it stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pearce, and Patrick Wilson. The film will hit theaters June 8, 2012.

Ridley Scott, director of “Alien” and “Blade Runner,” returns to the genre he helped define. With PROMETHEUS, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

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