Prometheus: aliens in suits that look like aliens

 Leads from: 

"Engineer" sized space jockey suit
a) Space Jockey is a suit
Once we have seen the film, we understand that Ridley Scott has been telling us that the Space Jockey we had seen in the original Alien film was a suit. There might still be a way to turn the idea around because of the dissimilarities between the space jockey in Alien and the space Jockey suits in Prometheus.  

However Ridley asked the question and out of that came the answer that it must have been a suit and for Ridley this happened from his perspective around 1995, or near enough twenty six years after Alien going by Ridley's memory.

b) Hollywood reflections
What ideas were these floating around in Hollywood at the time?  

My own explorations about the matter brought me to think about the alien space suits seen in the movie Fire In The Sky back in 1993, but this movie was preceded by the film Communion which featured the idea of aliens that were suits containing a different sort of an alien within. 

A few years before that, there was the TV series V which featured reptilian extra-terrestrials disguised in an outer body that looked like a normal human. 

A few years after Communion, Fire In The Sky came out featuring a concept that was similar and this was later followed by Independence Day which developed the idea even further of an alien in a space suit that might have been mistaken for an alien life form itself.  (Refer to: Prometheus: The "Space Jockey as a suit" question links)

engineer sets the controls from his seat
c) Possible French connections
Another thought is about illustrations by Patrice Garcia's and others for Luc Besson's The Fifth Element starting from 1992 for the Luc Besson film The Fifth Element released in 1997, as they worked on illustrations of the Mondoshawan/Sheridan characters that were often alien creatures or bald humanoids inside exoskeletons, some of which echoed the idea of the space jockey

d) Older thoughts
Meanwhile Sylvain Despretz recalled that Ridley Scott talked about  "a spaceman/pilot inside the shell" long before Besson's project came into being, perhaps one might want to explore this further.

But if from Ridley's perspective the idea came to him in the middle of the 1990s, perhaps one might ask if the idea he was having was being reshaped by these films

engineer as his helmet is being put on

e) Thinking about the nature of the Prometheus
I might be asking if perhaps the idea of the spacejockey in its seat being a sort of a shell could have gone back to the Alien production since Ridley drew the entity looking like a chrysalis sitting on seat and if that was like a chrysalis, what was inside?

Whatever the original space jockey was, as an item being built. it was always a hollow sculpture and if anyone was inside it, it would be like a shell.

As news about the ideas in Prometheus came to the surface, Ridley revealed that the Space Jockey in Alien was a suit and so we would find the engineers in Prometheus were those types of suits.

In the latter film, there are the Engineers wearing what are known as flight suits, there are those seen as if they are statues along a corridor of the Juggernaut and there are the engineers whose holograms are seen running along the corridors.

The dead remains of one Engineer is found by an entrance to a chamber, with the suit across the floor, and the empty decade suits of dozens more Engineers are found later in another corridor.

They wear what are known as pressure suits which the Engineer who emerges from his hibernation crypt is seen to wear and when he gets to his chair, we see a suit coming out of the chair to wrap itself around him and enclose him.

Perhaps it means that the flight suits are not necessarily used for the purpose that we think they are, and the only one used for flying in the juggernaut is part of the chair itself, or the chair takes the suit to pieces and fits it back together again for the next wearer.

f) Memories of gods like Mars
Also, while we've heard from Ridley about how the space jockey was perhaps one of the gods of war in the way we might think about the Roman god Mars.

What were the much earlier ideas for the Engineers that he had and when did he first have the ideas?

There were only a few fragments of ideas given by Ridley that changed over the decades.

See:  Alien: The end of the line and back to the distant past

Quote sources

  1. (37:35) Simon Mayo: Now as we have people spalling back in their minds to this character that you're talking about, this is the, there's a mysterious being this giant creature, I know it became known as the space jockey, but erm, could you, could you just describe him so that people can picture him.
    (37.53) Ridley Scott: "He was perceived, the giant was perceived as skeletal and erm, I kept staring at the skeleton which was kind of a wonderful drawing by H R Giger, and erm, then I thought, twenty, thirty, twenty, actually twenty six years on (1995?), I thought what if this is not a skeleton, but, because we only see it as a skeleton, because of our own, the way we see things in our own indoctrination, and er now I thought, what happens if its another form of protection or a suit? If its a suit then what's inside the suit" ( Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film reviews, BBCRadio 5 live, 01 June 2012.)
    engineer with head encased in helmet
  2. Often Scott will have a trigger image in mind when he begins prepping a film. With Prometheus  it was the Space Jockey. "The big guy sitting in the seat, " he recalls.
    'Somebody said it's a skeleton and I said it doesn't have to be, it could be a degraded suit. It's only you saying that because you think you're looking at bone structure and a rib cage. Why isn't that a suit? It's been lying there disintegrating for two or three thousands of years in deep cold, that could be a suit. The suit works great as a kind of organic, very sophisticated spacesuit." (Prometheus: the art of the film, p20))       
  3. Sylvain Despretz: On the one hand, I think Patrice is a truly creative person, and a fountain of ideas. It cannot be overstated but when we did a body-count of all the designs in The Fifth Element with the Production Designer, it turned out that over 60% of the creations selected for the film were designs by Patrice, and NOT by any of the high profile contributors. Similarly, he created a lot of material in the upcoming Valerian. Patrice was highly influenced by Giger, no doubt, but the idea of a spaceman/pilot inside the shell, to my knowledge, was an old one, from Ridley's perspective. I very much doubt that there is any connection here. I recall Ridley telling me about his idea for the engineers way back, before the Fifth Element was even a thing. I haven't seen the new Alien, but based on Prometheus, his original thoughts were far more intriguing than what he's done in the end. (22 May at 12:07  comment from AlienExplorations at Facebook from this thread                                        

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