“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”

from The Call of Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft

There appears to be a strange human tendency to relate things of disparate origins to each other. And not just in weird tales, but real life also.

With the Prometheus home video release taking place tomorrow there’s been a buzz of news across the Internet to promote it. One of them is the news, or at least the concept of, the idea that Prometheus is related to several of Ridley Scott’s other movies. Obviously, Prometheus is born of the same silk as Alien, in content if not in quality, but some say the connections to movies such as Bladerunner run much deeper than previously though.

Long ago, some wise guy noticed that the cockpit display of the police spinner in Blade Runner was actually the same as the orbital insertion graphic in Alien and promptly concluded that they must be in the same universe! At this point in time, however, believable special effects as an art was still in development and very costly, so it was a matter of course to re-use elements wherever a studio could to save time and money.  Blade Runner and Alien were not the only movies to re-use FX shots. The movie Silent Running, starring Bruce Dern, contained shots of the Valley Forge spacecraft were ultimately re-used in the TV Series Battlestar Galactica… Surely, if the interfaces in Blade Runner and Alien were so similar, and must therefore be in the same universe, then so too must Silent Running be in the same universe as Battlestar Galactica, if not the same event. Its ridiculous. Pish!

The Valley Forge? Or Agro Ships on the run…?

In other thoughts, there is a lot to be gained by associating a movie with another, more popular and successful one. By suggesting connections to previous and better established properties, you can attempt to draw in that fan-base. The movie Soldier starring Kurt Russell is one such attempt – although it is probably the most direct connection to Blade Runner so far, as it is written by the co-writer of the Blade Runner script, David Webb Peoples. Mentions of the Tannhauser gate in dialog and the awards that Russel’s character earned form a concrete, if unnecessary bridge to Scott’s Blade Runner movie. The Tannhauser gate mention is particularly interesting as Rutger Hauer ad-libbed the whole soliloquy on set, so it was definitely not part of either creator’s – Ridley Scott nor David Peoples – vision.  David People’s considers Soldier a spiritual successor to Blade Runner, but most BR fans would rather soon forget the movie -compared to its forerunner as it is a sad stepchild at best.

So, Prometheus.  The real meat of any connection to Blade Runner, in my opinion, should not be in world building content, but in related themes. The subject matter of each movie seem unlikely to depend upon one another. A “Blade Runner” is unlikely to go hunting for David amongst the distant stars – the cost to the agency alone would be crippling, even if Bryant was adamant about seeing it through. Likewise, I doubt that the Engineer’s will come to Earth and cross paths with Bladerunners. Their arrival would be a lot more alarming than escaped replicant-androids.

Spoilers ahead, please be careful if  you haven’t seen Prometheus yet.

Creation meets Creator: the Prodigal Son

No, the connections between the two movies should be thematic, rather than literal. David’s questions of existence, his creator and purpose have obvious similarities to Roy Batty’s in Blade Runner, at a universal level, rather than the personal. David’s creation is paralleled by the Engineer’s creation of humanity (and other species) and the movie is really a vehicle to build up to the Creation meets Creator scene, as was Blade Runner.  The setup and execution of both movies are so remarkably similar, one wonder’s if Scott was actually trying to attempt a better retelling of the story gimmick, or perhaps elaborating on an idea skipped over in Blade Runner (and if this is the case, why not save that for the real followup to Blade Runner?)  The creations attempt to find out where and why they’ve been made, following a trail of obscure clues, and finally confront their creator, only to be denied their ultimate goal. Prometheus even attempts some nesting of scenes worthy of Inception – David confronts his creator while his creators confront their creator! Not to mention the fact that he kills his creator, much like Batty does, while his creator’s creator tries to kill them and they try to kill their own creator… but I digress, almost unintelligibly.

These movies, like celluloid-conjoined twins separated at birth, share the same DNA and explore the same territory, so to have them sharing the same imaginative landscape seems redundant. World building is best done while focusing that world on a set of notions, so that it continually evokes the themes the creator intends to put forward. Shoehorning it into another universe, in my opinion, undermines the relevance of those themes, confusing their points with false imagery and misleading ideas. So why bother – what artistic vision can connect both of these worlds and keep their messages and conclusions relevant?

With Prometheus having more of a stake, both for the movie studio’s profit margin in the wake of a rather disappointing first step and Ridley Scott’s reputation for putting forth a half-complete, half-written movie, I sincerely hope Scott pushes aside his – very human – need to correlate the details he has generated, co-written and learned over the years aside, and focus on the creation of a Science Fiction piece worthy of a real connection to the fan favourite, critically acclaimed classic Blade Runner.

Leave the cheese at home Ridley. You may have created all of these franchises (with help), but you of all people should realize that the created entities might ultimately kill their creator.

Image Credits:  Alien, graphic: 20th Century Fox. Valley Forge/Agro ships: Universal Pictures, ABC network. Blade Runner graphic, Batty vs. Tyrell: Warner Bros.