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[Interview] Damon Lindelof On The Origins Of The Engineers And Whatever’s In The Final Shot Of ‘Prometheus’

I think we’re pretty much winding down on our coverage of Prometheus. But I’ve been saving this brief tidbit for last. To recap, here’s Brad’s review and David Harley’s thoughts. And if you’ve seen the movie here’s my spoiler-filled take.

Speaking of spoilers, I pulled Damon Lindelof aside for a few minutes when I was in London last week. I had some specific questions that I knew I couldn’t ask in my on-camera interview with him, so I decided to go in for a brief one on one. I was actually surprised by how forthcoming he was and my few questions were answered more thoroughly than I thought they would be.

Head inside to check it out! And, as always, make sure to write your own review as well!

The Engineers are sort of designed like Michelangelo’s David, they’re statuesque. Do you see a connection between that and the human standard of perfection? Is that one of the things you’re trying to get to in the film?

I think that the David comparison is a very apt one. In fact that’s the way Ridley described them to me. When I came into this movie, Jon Spaihts had already written a draft and the Engineers were already represented in that draft and Ridley already had the idea that the Space Jockey from the first movie was actually human. Or human-like. So before I was even hired to do this movie there was already a room full of conceptual art by Arthur Max, the production designer. He had rendered the Engineers in almost this sort of mythic neoclassical Greek way. And that’s what got the ball rolling on a lot of it. Let’s revisit the Gods of 2500 years ago or 5000 years ago, this idea of Gods as beings who walk amongst us as opposed to the God that we’re all familiar with, this deity in the heavens with no corporal form. So the new idea felt more like a sic-fi idea melded with, for lack of a better term, this sort of Clash Of The Titans type myth.

What were some of the things you added to the draft when you came on?

I think that what I really wanted to do was rebalance the movie so it wasn’t really relying as much on the Alien tropes we know. The face-hugging and chest-bursting, Xenomorphs and acid blood – all that stuff is great. But I wanted to take it in the direction of, “what if we went to meet our makers? Who are they? What are they up to? What happened to them? Did they invite us here?” If we’re perceiving something as an invitation that’s not an invitation at all – that’s who we are. We’re very egoistic creatures. If we see something in a cave of someone pointing to something, they might just be saying, “that’s where we come from.” We look at it and go, “you want us to come there!” So what happens when you show up at a party that you weren’t invited to? This movie becomes kind of that cautionary tale. I felt like I wanted to take the original idea in Jon’s draft about going to meet our makers and make the movie about that as opposed to making it about running into more aliens.

Would I be wrong in drawing an anthropological perspective here? The characters in the film meet their makers and find out the makers want to destroy them. But humans are involved in the genesis of the Xenomorph, and now we want to destroy it even though we are its creator. Are you trying to get at the perception of us as being as equally a destructive element as the Xenomorph in the eyes of the Engineers?

I think that’s a very insightful question and I do think in all creation myth there is this idea of putting the self into the creation. So the idea at the beginning that this Engineer essentially creates a strand of DNA that may lead to what we know as humanity – something that’s confirmed in the movie – I felt that the punchline of Prometheus was going to be that there is human DNA in what we have come to know as the human Xenomorph. If what we see at the end of the film is a queen or a progenitor of the eggs in Alien is all up for interpretation. We feel that there are clues in the movie that lead one down a path. But this idea that a child of Shaw and Holloway’s basically infects an Engineer and then gives birth to a Xenomorph, I do feel that the idea of creation here is sort of the birth of mutts. The mixing and matching of combinant strands.




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