[Q] One question about the science … The super-weapon that the engineers have been creating seems to me to be working in two different ways: you have the first way, which is what happens to Holloway, which is that he becomes mutated himself immediately. It’s that real-time altering of his genetic code. But then you’ve got what, in terms of science of the moment, seems the more credible way, which is the way that the mutations are passed down to Shaw’s “child”, this alien that she’s giving birth to. Was there meant to be that contrast between those two?
"Religion creates more problems for us than any other single thing"
[RS] No, not necessarily. The man at the beginning, the person at the beginning, if we are created by gods or monsters – there’s no gods, it’d be singular, there’d be one god, probably, because every religion today (which creates more problems for us today in the entire global system than any other single thing, is religion, right) they’re all actually worshiping one dude, really. I don’t give a damn whether it’s, y’know, muslim or you name it: it’s theoretically, in theory, one person. I believe that we were pre-visited. I think it’s entirely ridiculous to think that four billion years, nearly four billion…?
[DL] Since the Earth was created? Yes.
[RS] Nearly four billion years. I don’t know whether it was Updike or the other guy said, a great quote, we’ve been here four billion years, what happened? Why did it take so long? Nothing’s happened ’til until about 750,000, which… 750,000 years in four billion is a blink. I don’t really believe… well, there’s two rules of thought. You’re either going to believe in the fact that we’re by entirely genetic luck, so from day one where you have atomic storms – inconceivable storms that will go on in this nucleus, in which the dirt bowl will find some reason to start growth on everything – was that created? That may have been accidental, because I think there are many of those out there.
But then the idea that, is there a higher force in the universe, comes the question: is it god, or are there superior beings out there? You stand and look at the stars at night in the galaxy out there, it’s entirely ridiculous to believe that we are it. You mean this is it? We’re sitting in this room, I’ve got this f*cking cappuccino, and up there there’s no-one else? I don’t think so!
And therefore there’s two questions in the film: the guy at the beginning is simply donating himself, no stranger than the Aztecs or Incas would choose some poor bugger, at the beginning saying “right, you’re it, in the year you get all the girls you want, all the food you want, blah blah, and at the end of the year we’re going to take your heart, take it out, squeeze it, and we’re going to get jolly good crops and good weather next year.” It’s no more than that, he’s into a form of donation, except his DNA is so powerful, each molecule is like a timebomb. So, we only set our standards by what we know here, which makes us essentially naive. We don’t, we can’t conceive of galloping DNA: I release that on the desk, and in a second I’ve got a cotton wool ball going black. We can’t conceive that because it’s not in your frame of experience. So you’ve got to take your brain, put it on the side, and when you enter the movie just let yourself breath.
[DL] I think another version of your question could be interpreted as “What does the black goo do?”
[RS] Three things! Cleans your teeth…
[DL] [Laughing] Exactly! And I think that one of the things that I love about Ridley’s movies, and have loved long before I worked with him – and it’s very surreal to be on the inside of – thirty-some odd years after Blade Runner we’re all still talking about whether or not Deckard is a robot. So there’s a speculative part of it, so the question becomes “what does the black goo do?” That is the question that you’re supposed to be asking coming out of this movie. The movie demonstrates what it does in certain circumstances. So, here’s what it does if it gets on worms; here’s what it does if it gets on your face; here’s what it does if someone just puts a little bit of it in your drink. So, now we see that that lots of this is headed to Earth. Now, you used the word “weapon”, you’re extrapolating that based on the theory [Prometheus captain] Janek has, because it looks like a payload to him: all these ships are loaded with this stuff, and they’re headed for Earth. The intent has to be to wipe us out, or is it to evolve us, or is it for something else?
These are all hopefully questions and points of debate – frustrating for some – but ultimately the kind of science-fiction… why the two movies that Ridley did decades ago are still being discussed, is this idea that when you walk out of the theater that you have to go into community and start to discuss “well, wait a minute, this is what I think happened,” and you’re hopefully mirroring the conversation that the characters are having in the movie, and more importantly this is why Shaw says what she says at the end of the movie. Which is, “I’m not going back to Earth and calling it a day, I need to know a little bit more about what’s happening here.”
The ultimate goal of Prometheus, usually prequels, or movies that precede the original, close down the universe – so now we know everything we needed to know about Anakin Skywaker – we wanted Prometheus to open up the universe, so it’s not a prequel at all. It has two children, one of those children grows up to be Alien, and the other child is hopefully growing up in this other direction and, god willing, will grow up into an entirely different line of films.