In the weeks since its release, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus has established a reputation as perhaps the most divisive film in the ALIEN franchise. Most fans agree that the original film and its immediate sequel, ALIENS, are classics of the horror/scifi/action genres; most fans also agree that ALIEN 3 and ALIEN: Resurrection are deeply flawed as follow-ups. Prometheus, the “indirect prequel” to the aforementioned films, has fans championing its ambitious ideas and epic scale, and detractors troubled by some questionable characterization and gaping plot holes.
One thing it seems that everyone can agree on, however, is that Prometheus is a gorgeous piece of filmmaking. Prometheus: The Art of the Film, a lavishly illustrated new book from author Mark Salisbury and Titan Books, is all the confirmation for this opinion that anyone will ever need.
The book gathers a wealth of visual material – everything from rough sketches to schematics to conceptual art to full paintings and behind-the-scenes photographs – augmented by contributions from Salisbury, Scott and Arthur Max, the film’s production designer. We learn about Scott’s desire to use primarily practical effects (hallelujah!) enhanced by only the most judicious use of CGI. We get to see the gigantic sets and creature suits used to bring Scott’s ideas to stunning life. And we get to see the evolution of those ideas as the design team brings together elements as diverse as ancient architecture, Nazi-era gold smuggling devices and Russian and American spacesuits to form a singular vision for the film.
H.R. Giger’s works is of course one of the most recognizable and revered elements of the ALIEN franchise, and this book demonstrates how careful Scott was to retain Giger’s signature flavor while forging beyond it. We can also see where other elements from the previous films – details like the crew’s sleep chambers and the ship’s octagonal hallways – have been translated in this new entry.
Love it, hate it, or hover somewhere in between, you can’t deny that Prometheus is a labor of love from one of our most exciting visionary filmmakers. The Art of the Film is a fascinating peek behind the curtain, a book filled with frame-worthy pages that are the best kind of eye candy for genre film fans.