Alien/ Prometheus: The doorway to the next chapter

Leading from:

a) Inside the suit is a being
In 2010, reports came through that Ridley Scott had talked about the creature known as the "Space Jockey" being a suit.

This brought much confusion and horror to many fans of the Alien series who had envisioned the giant being sitting in the chair as an independent intelligent alien being in his own right.

Many viewers thought that what looked like a ribcage with a chestburster hole in it was indeed the creature's ribcage.

While a few had guessed that it must have been a part of the creature's biomechanic suit since it was a Giger biomechanoid, however the skull was surely the creature's head, and what looked like teeth along its mouth were teeth.

Meanwhile Ridley Scott had his own ideas.

b) The Space Jockey questions
Ridley Scott noticed that throughout the Alien movies: 2,3 & 4, and then came Alien Vs Predator which he couldn't really tolerate watching, no one asked who was the guy, the big skeleton in the giant seat, well known to many as the Space Jockey although Ridley wasn't sure where the name came from.

"Engineer" sized
space jockey suit
c) Questions
There were the questions:

Who was he?

Why was he there?

Where was he from?

What was his mission?

What kind of technology did he possess?

What on earth were in those eggs and why did those eggs explode out all over him?

Ridley thought that these questions could provide a springboard for even larger ideas.

People often assumed that the space jockey was a skeleton but what if it was not?

engineer sets the controls from his seat

d) Questions about the croissant
The space ship designed by H R Giger and sculpted by Peter Voysey, Ridley always figured that the space vessel shaped like a croissant or a boomerang that was known as the Derelict was a battlewagon or a carrier.

Ridley noticed that some people asked if it was a building.

Many of those who knew it was a vehicle wondered if it had crashed, but Ridley understood that it had simply parked since it wasn't damaged, it may have forced landed but still it landed.

So the question was why did it park there?

If it was a ship, it would have a cargo hold, and that would be carrying in essence, what we would call today, biological warfare bacterial stuff.

Why would it have that?

Where was it going?

And to what end and what purpose?

Ridley envisioned the egg silo beneath the spacecraft as being the hold of the ship with the eggs whatever confusion there was to be had by the chamber appearing to be beneath the ground where the derelict sat, and indeed those eggs were deadly.

So what was the purpose of the vehicle and indeed what was the purpose of the eggs?

engineer as his helmet is being put on

e) Envisioning a prequel

Those are the major questions that Ridley came up with and no one else had brought up those questions and so there was a whole new storyline..

From that Ridley asked 'What happens if there's a group that decide to go and find that out?'

At the time when the film that would become Prometheus was to be a prequel to the first Alien, Ridley was running along the idea that this was because something in the cargo had got loose, had evolved and had actually taken the Space Jockey out, and so what could that be.
Therefore like all that technology and in any technology whether it's millions of years in the past or millions of years in the future, they'll always have a distress signal. 
So the Space Jockey he set up a distress signal that went on right up until it was turned off in the future when in the movie Alien they pick up the transmission and land on the planet.

engineer with head encased in helmet
f) Opening the doorway 
Somebody once said that the Space Jockey is a skeleton and Ridley's response to that was that it doesn't have to be, it could be a degraded suit, because the person only said it was a skeleton because because he thought that he was looking at a bone structure and a rib cage due to the way we as humans see things in our own indoctrination.

Ridley had been asking himself what if it was another form of protection or a suit.

It would be a kind of sophisticated organic spacesuit that's been lying there disintegrating for two or three thousands of years in deep cold, and so would be easily mistaken for skeleton.

So Ridley's idea was that if it was a suit then what was inside it?

It could open up and inside that suit was a being.

Ridley Scott had this idea since around 1995 which was when the movie Independence Day was released which featured just such an idea, and this followed the movie "Fire In the Sky" (1993) a couple of years earlier that showed what seen to be the form of an extra-terrestrial Grey was in fact a suit for another sort of a humanoid alien being, and a few years earlier the film version of Communion (1989) featured the Greys as organic suits for another almost reptile like life form hidden within.

(see :Prometheus: The "Space Jockey as a suit" question)

(see also: Prometheus: Here comes juggernaut!)

Independence Day alien coming out
from inside its organic suit 
(source Internet)

g) Tom Rothman's Approval
It was here that Ridley was seeing a door that they could open up into a new chapter of the alien universe. Around 2009. 
He went to see Tom Rothman then the Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment about this. 
Although Ridley could only talk about his idea in broadstrokes, but he talked about how he thought that the Alien had now dead. 
He thought it could open a new door focusing on the space jockey, and what they thought was the space jockey was actually something else.
Tom Rothman agreed that it was an interesting idea and put the project into development.

Tom Rothman the  Fox CEO

h) Doorway to Previsitation
Ridley Scott had been very interested in the idea that the space jockeys and its demonic cargo had been to Earth before in ancient times in a way that echoed his appreciation for the powerful 1967 Hammer science fiction horror movie "Quatermass and The Pit" that brought the idea of previsitation by a devil like race of beings from Mars to the screen long before Erich Von Daniken's Chariots of the God's ever was written.
As it goes Nigel Kneale who wrote the script for Quatermass and The Pit originally for the 1958 TV series may well have borrowed some ideas from Arthur C Clarke's novel 1953 Childhood's End that also dealt with previsitation by a race of extra-terrestrials who looked like our perception of the devil.

poster for the 1967 film Quatermass and the Pit

So the story of previsitation began to evolve.

He asked himself if we have been previsited before, and the more he climbed into it the more he relised that it seemed entirely logical and indeed it's entirely illogical to believe that we haven't been visited before, because there was a point of arrogance to that idea that one is to believe that we're it in this entire galaxy.

He understood that there had to be more, not necessarily humanoids but more likely other life forms. It was surely arrogant for us to believe that we are superlative as opposed to the possibility that we may be minor

The doorway would open up the idea about the Space Jockeys being engineers of space, perceived as gods in ancient times on Earth (linking in with Erich Von Däniken's concept of previsitation by extra-terrestrials) and perhaps the alien in the cargo hold was as biological weapon, able to go in and clean up a planet inside out like a weapon of mass destruction.

Source quotes 
  1. Ridley Scott: The problem is with science fiction is we all feed off each other , that's why they all start to look the same, how do I do this different, you know how do I get your attention and have you had bad dreams, bad chills. That's really kind of what stopped me doing science fiction because I thought, you know, "How's it going to be different? How's it going to be new?" (The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus(00:10) )
  2. "I think beneath that carcass isn't a carcass," Scott teased on June 13 in Hollywood. "That's a suit, but inside the suit is a being."(Hero Complex Festival 2010 report: scifiwire)
  3. I think beneath that carcass… it’s not a carcass, it’s a suit. Inside the suit is a being.” An interesting hint at to what he’s doing with the prequels, perhaps? (Hero Complex Festival 2010 report: Aint It Cool)
  4. Ridley Scott is quoted in Icelandic as saying "Þau fundu ekki beinagrind í geimskipinu í fyrstu myndinni heldur búning og þá spyr maður sig hvað hafi verið í þessum búningi? Hvers vegna var það á ferðinni og hvert var það að fara? Í mínum huga hefur það alltaf verið þannig að ef einhver er svo brjálæðislega klár að hann geti skapað eitthvað jafn skelfilegt og veruna í Alien þá hljóti það sköpunarverk að hafa verið hugsað sem vopn." ( source :frettatiminn, 15th -17th July 2011, p16)
    However a confusing Googletranslation from Icelandic to English :
    Ridley Scott
    :They found no skeletons in a spaceship in the first film but a costume and then man asks himself what was in this guise? Why was it on the move and where was it going? For me it has always been that if someone is 'crazy smart'(?) that he could create something as terrible as creatures of the Alien and the fact that all creatures have been designed as a weapon.
  5. La realisateur va donc répondre a une question que les fans se posent depuis 1979. "Cette forme de vie extra-terrestre, à la fois divinité et ingénieur/ biologiste, semble avoir créé les aliens. Nous parlons ici des ingénieurs de l'espace! Les aliens ont-ils été conçus pour une forme de guerre biologique, nettoyant une planete de fond en comble, á l'instar d'ármes de destruction massive? Ou est-ce impitoyable forme de vie, qui s'est developpée au sein d'un écosystème incroyablement dangereux? On révèlera une face encore plus sombre des ces créatures."
    (L'Ecran fantastique Hors Serie no.13, Decembre 2010)
    English Translation: The film director will then answer a question that fans have arisen since 1979. "This form of extraterrestrial life, both divinity and engineer / biologist, seems to have created the aliens. We are talking about the engineers of space! The aliens were they designed for a form of biological warfare, a cleaner planet inside out, like weapons of mass destruction? Or is this ruthless form of life that has developed an ecosystem incredibly dangerous? We reveal an even darker side of these creatures "
  6. Ridley Scott “The film will be really tough, really nasty. It’s the dark side of the moon. We are talking about gods and engineers. Engineers of space. And were the aliens designed as a form of biological warfare? Or biology that would actually go in and clean up a planet? (Ridley tells Mike Goodridge of, 26 April, 2010
  7. Ridley Scott:"If you explain who he was and where he came from, then that will deal with the savagery of this version, which will be pretty savage. Then you may want to find out where they came from, the place where his people come from."(Hero Complex Festival 2010 report: fearnet)
  8. The story has no set timeline except that it’s WAY before the first Alien so that they can fit in enough history for two movies. Scott explained that once you learn the history of how the jockey encountered the aliens, you’ll also want to learn about how he got there.(Hero Complex Festival 2010 report: ,Collider) 
  9. Not only will we find out who the Space Jockey is, we’ll find out where his people come from.(Aint It Cool).
  10. "La premiere se concentrera sur l'histoire du space jockey, Quel est son but? Comment des oeufs d'aliens se sont retrouvés sur son vaisseau? La seconde préquelle nous permettra de décrouvrir d'où vient cette mystérieuse créature.(L'Ecran fantastique Hors Serie no.13, Decembre 2010)
    Google translates as " The first will focus on the history of space jockey, what is its purpose? How alien eggs were found on his ship? The second prequel will we must see whence comes this mysterious creature
  11. Ridley Scott: No one asked one very big simple question, and I was amazed at that because it was an evolution where you could certainly go into the next story by saying "Who was the guy in the seat, who was the popular character that got the name, The Space Jockey", I don't know where that came from but, it did, and er, there was this big skeleton lying in this giant seat, who was that? why was he there? wha.. and I always figured what I had was a battle.... I used to call it the battlewagon, and it was almost based on a croissant, it's a croissant, that space ship was a croissant, okay, and I said, "why is this boomerang, it didn't crash, it parked, and why did it park there", no, no one brought up those questions, it's a whole new storyline (Ridley at the Press Conference in Paris, 11th April , 2012, About 15 minutes and 35 seconds into the youtube video) 
  12. Ridley Scott: Something that had stayed with me ever since Alien, was the mystery behind it, Who was he?  Where was he from?   What was his mission? What kind of technology would his kind possess?  I thought those questions could provide a springboard for even larger ideas.(screenslam).
  13. Ridley Scott: My question that always bothered me, er, was on the four Aliens, er, really three subsequent Aliens to my one, why did no one say "who was the big guy in the chair?"

    Geoff Boucher: Sure

    Ridley Scott: And what on earth were in those eggs and why did those eggs explode out all over him 

    Geoff Boucher: Right

    Ridley Scott: And therefore in a funny kind of way a bit like a kind of viral time bomb, and erm,  I'd sort of sat there for years, I mean I didn't agonize over it, 

    Geoff Boucher: Right

    Ridley Scott: But when I thought that the Alien franchise was done fundamentally , I'd got to go to  see Tom, talk to him and say, "I think I've got this idea" and I said, "in first it's in very broad strokes but, um,  if you... "my theory is that... that croissant", I've called it a croissant, the ship which was made by Giger, designed by Giger and made by a guy called.... sculptor called Peter Voysey, and I thought it was a battleship, it was a carrier, I've always thought it was a carrier, what is it, what... people say "is it a building?", I say "no, so it's a ... it's a vehicle that doesn't look like it crashed, it looked like it may have forced landing but it landed" 

    Geoff Boucher: Right 

    Ridley Scott:and erm,  why did it land and why was the pilot damaged? Because that... his cargo, something had got loose 

    Geoff Boucher: Right

    Ridley Scott: In the cargo, had evolved and had actually taken him out, and so what could that be, and therefore like all that technology and in any technology whether it's millions of years in the past or millions of years in the future, they'll always have a distress signal, so had he set up a distress signal that ah, we in our twentieth century, twenty first century electronics had caught up , technology was a million years old, and said gee what's that er, thing, we should land. Okay, that was the genesis of Alien 1  
    (Ridley Scott talks Prometheus with Geoff Boucher - Hero Complex Show, uploaded April 25th 2012 onto Youtube  starting at 4:53 into the interview)

  14.  (36:21) Ridley Scott: Well Prometheus evolved from,  I made a film almost thirty years ago, er called Alien and er, and the end of having finished Alien, I was always concerned about the fact that in the story, Tom Skerrit had brought up a question, who is this creature, how did he die and what was this device he was sitting in. We we never answered the question during the actual film itself. I was always concerned about it would raise its head, people would say what was that, they never did and then I watched 2, 3 and 4 get made, then I watched, I think I couldn't really watch, was it Alien vs Predator, but it was never raised, and erm, so I brought it up about er, four years ago to Fox, Tom Rothman, I said you know what,we can open the door here and have a whole new universe which will give life to this genre, erm, although I think the Alien itself is now dead and gone, wrung dry, I think we can open up to a new universe, new doors, new experiences and specifically asking some more significant questions which of course occur in the film.
    ( Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film reviews, BBCRadio 5 live, 01 June 2012)
  15. Ridley Scott:I said " I have an idea for a follow-through on the original four Aliens", because you really got - wrung it dry . Four films on Alien as a franchise is pretty good. Inevitably it's a prequel.(The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus(01:48))
  16. Ridley Scott: And then that evolved and from that evolution, I pitched to Fox and Fox said "wow, that's a really interesting idea." And that's where we started to evolve into previsitation. Have we been previsited before? And the more you climb into it, the more you realise it's entirely logical.(The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus(04:55) )
  17. Ridley Scott: It's entirely illogical to believe that we haven't been visited before, because there's two points of arrogance attached to that idea. One is to believe that we're it in this entire galaxy. There has to be more. Not humanoids necessarily, but more other life forms. And it's arrogant for us to believe that we are superlative as opposed to we may be minor. (The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus(05:38))
  18. Ridley Scott: I came up with saying, "what happens if these guys exist? And if they do exists, who were they?" And I always figures that pilot was flying a battleship and the battleship was a carrier of deadly objects. The deadly objects were the eggs, and the eggs were the DNA that would be carried out to destroy, would be used to destroy. What would they be destroying? (The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus(07:18) )
  19. Prometheus: The art of the film"I was curious that nobody ever asked "Who was the big guy sitting in the seat?" Scott says today. "He was fondly called the Space Jockey, though I don't know where that name came from. But somebody called it the Space Jockey, and the assumption was that he was skeletal. The I thought, 'Well what happens if he is not a skeleton? What was that ship doing there? Why had it had to put down? Or had it crash landed?'. It certainly it certainly didn't look like it had landed there easily, so it was probably an emergency put down, which , of course, then sets off a signal. That beacon is then telegraphed and then reaches the Nostromo and in doing so wakes up the computers and the computers wake up the crew and, behold, you have Alien.

    It was an idea that continued to percolate with the film maker, and a few years later Scott began to lay a foundation of what would eventually become Prometheus, his hugely anticipated return to science fiction  cinema and the world of Alien after a three decade absence. "I always figured that the huge croissant-shaped or horseshoe shaped vehicle was a ship, "he continues" And if it was a ship, it would have a cargo hold, and that would be carrying in essence, what we would call today, biological warfare bacterial stuff. Why would it have that? Where was it going? And to what end and what purpose? Those are the major questions that I came up with. From that I said 'What happens if there's a group that decide to go and find that out?' But this would be a prequel to the first Alien."(Prometheus: The art of the film, p10-12)

  20. Ridley Scott: So, there was one huge question in the very first one that I'd been concerned about at the time, so like I trying to answer all the questions, but who's the big guy in the seat.     

    Alex Billington
    : yeah.                                                                                                                 

    Ridley Scott:
    No one ever asked the question.
    Alex Billington
    : yeah.                                                                                                                   

    Ridley Scott:
    And so I just kept thinking about that, thinking "you know, if that wasn't a skeleton, it was something else, we could actually have it open," and so suddenly you have it open a door. And so when I saw Tom Rothman about, actually, pretty recently about three years ago, saying you know what, we can open, re... re-open this door, and if you like. He said abs... of course. So then we could get into it, we er, R&D, suddenly this is where we are right now.  (Interview in London with director Ridley Scott on Prometheus, discussing his return to sci-fi. Conducted by Alex Billington of, video also found at ., published on Jun 8, 2012)
  21. Alex Billington : ...I'd mention that the idea of the space jockey being... you know asking the question about it, is that sometimes people think with certain scifi movies, even Blade Runner that the ambiguity of it actually makes it better, you know, the question, the fact that the question exists and isn't answered makes it interesting.                                                        

    Ridley: More interesting                                                                                                 

    Alex Billington : So were you concerned about answering that question and it being too much of an answer, you know, sort of....                                                        

    Ridley: In this one?                                                                                                           

    Alex Billington Yeah, with Prometheus answering the Alien question.  

    Ridley: Er, no because all i was doing was turning the chapter and opening the door, 'cause why would a guy, wh.. why would that creature er, have a cargo like that.                          

    Alex Billington yeah.   

    Ridley: What was his intention. So that was a cart. I would always used to blindly call it a battle ship, that the, you know, the old beautiful ship, the croissant, I called it the croissant, er, but it's kind of unique, it's pretty cool, and erm, the actual lay... I was never happy about the layout of the eggs on the floor but that's what it was when we did it at the time, and when we actually built them the eggs, they were kind of por... sitting in rows, a bit like er pineapples, and er, it was a specific layout, so clearly this was a hold of some thing… , for some reason, and so you may as well tell it, open up say "well, it's that and it's deadly," and then the biggest question becomes "why and who would conceive of these things and where were they going?", this is a whole new story.

    Alex Billington yeah.  (Interview in London with director Ridley Scott on Prometheus, discussing his return to sci-fi. Conducted by Alex Billington of, video also found at ., published on Jun 8, 2012)
  22. Simon Mayo (37:35) : 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.
    Ridley Scott (37.53): "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, 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.)
  23. 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)
  24. Ridley Scott: The thing nagged me which I talked about this morning was that no one asked the big question, and I started to think about it, well, it doesn't have to be, it doesn't have to be what it appears to be, what you see in the, what we call the space jockey is actually something else, and that's what I came in with and Fox said "Okay", and they sensibly put us into development which is spending a little bit of money up front to see what it's going to look like first of all before you start spending the real money, then at the same time of having right to rite , and the two come together, then suddenly and then you budget it, then you're, you're on. (STVentsandComedy
  25. Ridley Scott: I still think there’s mileage in a lot of material, I still think there's a lot of mileage  in , in ‘Alien,’ but I think you have to now re-evolve, I think the, the, the alien himself is special, but you've got to be careful, that he's no longer frightening, right. I thought one has to go to another evolution of what it could be.  What I always thought was, when I was making it, the first one, why on earth would a creature like this be made and why was it traveling in what I always thought was a kind of war-craft, which was carrying a cargo of these eggs. What was the purpose of the vehicle and what were the purpose of the eggs? And no one's e..., that... that’s the thing to question — who, why, and for what purpose is the w... is the next idea, I think. (Youtube: This week’s summer movie is “Alien” Join film critic Justin Chang and his special guest, director Ridley Scott, for Week 4 of the #UltimateSummerMovie Showdown series on May 28.)
Egg Silo set from Japanese edition of Giger's Alien video

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