The Prometheus hype is getting to me – yes, I‘ll admit it. So, I dusted off my Alien Quadrilogy box set and played Alien, the original cinematic version, not the Director’s Cut. As always I enjoyed the film; the characters are great, the casting for each role perfect – why do we not see more of Tom Skerritt in movies? What I noticed most about the movie was how old fashioned it was. How analogue. From the chunky computers to the digital screen displays, the film has very much a 70s view of the future. The spacesuits worn by the actors also have a wonderful retro style. Prometheus, this is not.
Like I have said before, the world of Prometheus looks too clean and crisp, a total (and tonal) contrast to Alien. Sure, the characters in Alien are workers-“space miners” and the characters in Ridley Scott’s latest film are scientists, different people from a different time, but still I can’t imagine that the grime and the construction of the craft would be so different. If anything, they should be clunkier in Prometheus, as the film predates Alien by several years.
In reality, the world of movies has moved on since Alien’s release in 1979; technological advances mean that this style of filmmaking no longer exists. The models and non-digital effects add a reality, an earthiness to Alien, which makes it seem real, as if you could touch it. Now in the 21st Century, we live in a digital age. Computer generated effects are now the order of the day, and this adds a sheen and platisticity to science fiction films that wasn’t present in the likes of Alien, Blade Runner and the original Star Wars. We can achieve more now, but it doesn’t make it any more realistic or as enjoyable to view. The modern human mind simply can’t be fooled by synthetic movement or machine made vistas. CGI may be able to break the bounds of the human imagination, but it can’t break the bounds of reality. Maybe, I should be able to suspend disbelief; Prometheus is a different film from Alien, made in a different time period. However, if they share the same “DNA” which is what Scott has told us, then they should share the same visual aesthetic. The holographic effects look too advanced for the world of Alien, the vehicles too modern. Yes, the world created for Alien is a world that never came to pass. LCD’s and plasma screens mean that the green tinged screens of the film, with its low grade graphics, offer a 70s perspective of how the future may pan out. I am fine with that.
I’d like to think that Scott’s new film will have ‘retro-fitted’ reality, that maybe when we see the larger piece, the film as a whole, then we will be able to see the two films as being connected. Maybe the technology in the new film will match what has gone before it. Maybe the computer readouts and digital displays will have a dated quality to match Alien. One thing is for certain-Prometheus had better be good.