Origins of The Orrery

The Orrery in Prometheus
a) In the trailers for Prometheus we are introduced to a display of floating galaxies as if the chamber in the alien environment was designed as some sort of a planetarium what is known to be an Orrery. Much discussion has gone on about what this was supposed to represent. Soon in one trailer, David is seen to be holding a hologram of the planet Earth. Before the film was release, Jonathan Spaihts  revealed through Twitter that this strange place was called "The Orrery"

Jon Spaihts: "From my notebook: Ridley's first sketch of the Orrery.
#Prometheus #RidleyScott"
Jon Spaihts: "From my notebook: Ridley's first sketch of the Orrery.
#Prometheus #RidleyScott"
b) In a conversation that Jonathan Spaihts and Ridley Scott were about about star maps and the story necessity for the navigation instrument that the viewers would see, Ridley started talking about a painting that he had in his mind, he could not remember the title but described it as "Circles in circles with a candle lit image."

Spaihts suddenly thought of the Joseph Wright painting and did a Google image search on the internet and showed the image to Ridley

"Yes, that's the painting," exclaimed Ridley Scott "Scientist, scholars and children"

c) What they had done was made a leap from star map to an Enlightenment painting and then back into the far future. This was a very exciting moment for Jonathan Spaihts the self proclaimed "illuminatus" on Twitter (no! no! We're trying to get away from Illuminati conspiracies here) on the internet whatever that might mean, getting involved in this kind of interplay with Ridley Scott and the way his mind would leap from one level to another.

 Quote sources
  1. Jon Spaihts via Twitter said to "We called this "The Orrery".(Twitter, Jan 17th, 2012) 
  2. The Orrery as it is on the cover of Cinefex 130
  3. published an article with an interview featuring Jon Spaihts where they discuss the Orrery
    "Here’s an example: if you’ve noticed a point in the Prometheus trailer when a 3D alien star map fills up a huge room, that owes its visual inspiration to a 1766 painting by Joseph Wright, called “A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery.” The painting is of a scientist showing a mechanical planetarium to a group of enthralled adults and children, and by dramatic candlelight.
    A Philosopher Giving a Lecture
    the Orrery, 1776, Joseph Wright

    In a conversation we were talking about star maps and the story-necessity for the navigational instrument we would see, and Ridley Scott started talking about a painting he had
    in his mind,” Spaihts remembered.Circles in circles with a candle lit image,Scott had said. Spaihts thought of the Wright painting and did a Google image search.
    Yes, that’s the painting I mean,” Scott exclaimed. Scientist, scholars and children.”
    That was Scott, “making the leap from a star map, to an Enlightenment painting, and then back into the far future. His mind just multiplexes in that way,” said Spaihts. “For a writer it’s like riding a f***ing bronco. That kind of interplay is one of the great joys of screenwriting." ( 1st of May 2012)
  4. Read about A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery 
  5. During the filming of the scene where David steps into the orrery, Ridley had Dark Side of the Moon playing on loud speakers. Read: The Dark Side Of The Moon  

    a replica of the actual orrery itself

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