Prometheus: The Art of the Film Book Review

The latest release from Titan Books comes with Prometheus: The Art of the Film which takes readers behind the scenes of the production behind the biggest sci-fi film of the last decade. Filled with full reprints of Ridley Scott’s own work (Ridleygrams as he calls them) and notes from the aforementioned director, this is an excellent tour de force art book made not only for serious fans of the franchise, but art lovers and sci-fi fans as well.

Scott claims to have been inspired to do Prometheus after an audio commentary he did for Alien back in 2003. Suddenly, he caught himself wondering why people never asked the question “who was the big guy sitting in the seat?” when the original crew landed on LV-426 all those years ago. The fans gave the big guy the name “space jockey” and nothing came of it. That is, until the idea began to swim in his head about a prequel of sorts, laying the foundation for what became Prometheus.

How do I know this? All of this information and much more is featured in the A Return to Science Fiction chapter that has an extended 12 page interview with the man behind the film. Have any questions about why Ridley Scott decided to make Prometheus after such a long absence in the genre? Curious about his disappearance from the Alien franchise? You won’t be after reading this chapter.

There is an absolute must see section titled The Dawn of Time that showcases a completely alternate opening to Prometheus that looks much cooler than the one in the film. Screenwriter Damon Lindelof says the beginning was set to feature this more elaborate version of the Engineers “seeding” the Earth with their DNA. Was this shot? Will it be included in a director’s cut? Unfortunately, this isn’t touched upon in the book, but the sequence looks fantastic.

The sections The Prometheus and The Lifeboat focus on the ship and all the inner workings. This is a huge, nearly 30 page chapter with pictures of every possible section of the ship covered. The Planet and Landing Prometheus examines the bleak landscape of the main stage of Prometheus and some original concept art. The Costume Design is self-explanatory, while chapters Cargo Bay, Rover and ATV focus on the vehicles.

Some of the most breathtaking images come in a large chunk in The Pyramid, The Entrance, The ‘Pups’ and Ampule Chamber which explores the inner workings of the infrastructure of the alien dwelling and a great look at the Engineer Head in perfect lighting. This was easily one of the most iconic images to come out of the film. What was it for? A simple act of hubris that compelled the engineers to build such a monolithic vision of themselves? A sign left for humans that they were on the right track?

Weyland Industries is a brief chapter about the makeup behind old man Weyland, while The Ampule, Hammerpede and Fifield cover the creatures and “black goo.” My personal favorite chapter, The Engineers, has all the info on the inspiration for the characters, some original concept art, the behind the scenes creation of their organic spacesuits and a brief summary on the language used in the film.

The Juggernaut, The Orrery and The Pilot Chamber and Chair all focus on the Engineer ship and includes blueprints for those fans wondering what was really in there. The Orrery, which is the name given to the machine that plays the 3D holographic sequence David watches, is explained as a futuristic sort of planetary/celestial mapping.

Trilobite, The Crash Sequence, The Crashed Lifeboat and The Deacon are sections containing everything in the last 30 minutes of Prometheus. The most interesting note here is “The Deacon“, the name given to the creature that bursts of the chest of the Engineer. However, the ending sequence concept art is much different than the ending of the movie. Again I ask, will we see this in a director’s cut? Was it filmed? Excuse me for teasing again, but it looks like a far more interesting sequence than the filmed version.

One pitfall of “art” books is that the bulk of them tend to feature concept art and not much more. That’s all well and good, but the excitement wears thin quickly if you aren’t an artist. That isn’t so with Prometheus: The Art of the Film, which runs the gamut of the film from pre-production concepts to in-production behind the scenes and post-production finished images. This is the most complete experience of the movie available on the market until the blu-ray comes out and features what I imagine to be a plethora of behind the scenes material.

Love or hate Prometheus, this coffee table book is nearly 200 pages of absolute beauty. Titan really stepped up and created a fantastic piece for collectors. Even casual viewers will appreciate what a fantastic piece of art Scott and his team created after thumbing through this for a half hour. I wasn’t a champion of the movie, but I’m absolutely in love with this book. It could contain nothing but images without text and I’d still be as impressed. If I’m convinced of anything, it’s that Prometheus will become the Dark City of this generation. It will be discredited, condemned, yelled about, but it will be ripped off and talked about in roundtable discussions for years to come. We aren’t even close to realizing the scope of influence Prometheus will have on sci-fi in the next decade. For a mere $25 (and it’s worthy every penny), Prometheus: The Art of the Film would be a great piece to start with.

Prometheus: The Art of the Film is available now at Amazon and Forbidden Planet.

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