In hindsight, it makes a ton of sense that Ridley Scott’s quasi-prequel to Alien, Prometheus, would produce viral marketing filling in the world that led us to the doomed voyage of the Nostromo in the 1979 original. But the appearance of a video speech by Guy Pearce yesterday was a lovely surprise because it foreshadows the fleshing-out of the corporate powermongering that led to the events of Alien.
The video ties into the TED conference, an actual annual event that’s been held since 1984 bringing together notable figures from fields in Technology, Entertainment, and Design (hence the acronym) to talk about ideas and the future.
The three-minute video, directed by Ridley Scott’s son Luke and conceived by Ridley Scott and writer Damon Lindelof, sees Pearce speaking to TED in 2023 in character as Peter Weyland, no doubt the founder of the Weyland-Yutani corporation that plagued Ripley in the Alien films. Sounding awfully British and ominous, Pearce hams it up enormously but in the grand, nuanced way that only the best actors can.
The speech is far more bombastic and hubristic than it ever would be in real-life, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a fun three-minutes that’s shot terrifically well by Luke Scott, and the new Weyland Industries website promises more in a few days.
I won’t say any more about what Weyland says and let you enjoy it for yourself at weylandindustries.com.
I’m hugely excited for Prometheus, because Scott is returning to SF for the first time since Blade Runner and he’s gathered a superb cast (Pearce, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba – bliss). The story of what led the Nostromo to the crashed ship in Alien always seemed to me like one worth telling, but like many I still have misgivings about yet another prequel and yet more panicked running by studios back to the warm arms of established franchises.
Indeed, what exactly will Scott and Lindelof find to say about the Alien universe that hasn’t already been said, even if the xenomorphs themselves don’t appear prominently (not that we even know for sure)? Will this just be a disposable SF story that can be slotted neatly before Alien? Or has Scott rediscovered the radical zeal that drove his early work and overcome his competent yet unambitious recent work?
I truly hope so, because a connection to an established franchise doesn’t automatically make it reheated leftovers. Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica proved that beyond measure. Tidbits like today’s video suggest that Prometheus will offer some rich world-building, which is so often missing from big-budget SF cinema. Hopefully that translates into a film that resonates even half as well as Alien did and still does.