Ridley Scott's latest film, Prometheus, will be released in U.S. theaters this weekend. It has received mixed reviews, but for this writer one of the more fascinating aspects of the film is not whether it is a prequel for Alien, but rather its incorporation of grand mythological ideas. These include questions on origins, as well as the ancient astronauts hypothesis which I have touched on briefly elsewhere.
In an interview with Eric Sptznagel in Esquire, Scott provides his personal background thoughts on some of these topics, including whether humanity is alone in the universe, and his views on God(s) and religion. In this piece of the exchange we find insights into Scott's views on organized religion [warning: spoiler alert]:
ES: My favorite part of Prometheus is when a battered and bloody Noomi Rapace reaches for her crucifix necklace, and the decapitated robot head says to her, "Even after all this, you still believe." In that scene, are you Noomi or the robot head?
RS: That's hard to say. [Long pause] I do despair. That's a heavy word, but picking up a newspaper every day, how can you not despair at what's happening in the world, and how we're represented as human beings? The disappointments and corruption are dismaying at every level. And the biggest source of evil is of course religion.
ES: All religions?
RS: Can you think of a good one? A just and kind and tolerant religion?
ES: Not off the top of my head, no.
RS: Everyone is tearing each other apart in the name of their personal god. And the irony is, by definition, they're probably worshipping the same god.
And a little later Scott discusses his views on life elsewhere in the universe:
ES: Do you believe in aliens? Is there life outside our planet?
RS: Yes, absolutely. Without any question.
ES: You're that convinced?
RS: I'm that convinced. And that's not just me letting my imagination run wild and all that bullshit. Just stare up at the stars at night, and you'll have those corny thoughts like we all do. How can you look at the galaxy and not feel insignificant? How on earth can we be it? It doesn't make sense.
ES: But believing in aliens isn't all that different from believing in a divine creator. It's not like there's evidence. It's still about faith, right?
RS: It doesn't matter how much faith you have or don't have. I just don't buy the idea that we're alone. There's got to be some form of life out there.
I have high hopes for Prometheus on a number of levels, but given the mixed reviews that have come in so far I may have to lower my expectations. But regardless, if some of the speculative, metaphysical, and religious commentary that Scott has been talking about in various interviews surfaces in the film, it will give more thoughtful viewers something to reflect upon the next time they gaze at the night time sky.