In the film Prometheus, is the planet shown in the beginning of the film Earth or was it some other planet?

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    I've never heard it suggested to be anything but Earth. – Andrew Thompson Jul 17 '14 at 4:49
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    @BESW - That question refers to the shooting site of the scene. This question refers more to the in-universe location of the scene. – Stark07 Jul 17 '14 at 5:28
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    @ash_k29 THEY SHOT THAT ON EARTH?!?!! ; ) – Meat Trademark Jul 17 '14 at 6:44
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    @MeatTrademark - Totally dude! :P – Stark07 Jul 17 '14 at 6:45
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    @ash_k29 WHOA! – Meat Trademark Jul 17 '14 at 7:09

The planet's location is deliberately undetermined.

From this movies.com interview with Ridley Scott:

Movies.com: That is our planet, right?

RS: No, it doesn’t have to be. That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he’s doing is acting as a gardener in space.

So it could be Earth, but it might not be, and it doesn't matter to Scott or the story; that scene exists as a generic representative of a process which occurred on an unknown-but-large number of worlds (including Earth) in much the same way.

(The scene depicts a real-life Earth waterfall, but that shouldn't be taken as meaning it's set on Earth--the crust of the Earth at the time the scene takes place has been recycled through the Earth's mantle since then, so the choice of waterfall is purely aesthetic.)

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  • Explain the screenplay? – James Sheridan Jul 17 '14 at 6:23
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    @JamesSheridan Scott's made his post-filming view clear (see above), and I see no need to explain something which never actually hit the screen. An idea was had, and then dropped, for whatever reason, like hundreds of other ideas probably were over the course of the film's creation. – BESW Jul 17 '14 at 6:30
  • Scott also thinks the film was actually good, so I don't think we can trust his opinion. Also, as Blade Runner has proven, the director, writer, actors, etc., can often have diametrically-opposed viewpoints. I would prefer to defer to the screenplay than a post-film comment by the director, where the two are in contradiction. Star Wars is by far the best example of this phenomenon. – James Sheridan Jul 17 '14 at 6:42
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    @JamesSheridan The director, writers, and actors don't seem that diametrically opposed in the case of Blade Runner. Ridley Scott says Deckard was a Replicant, and in the February 23, 1981 draft of the screenplay, and other drafts, screenwriters David Peoples and Hampton Fancher seemed to hint, very strongly, that he was a Replicant (or "android"). Harrison Ford said he played the role as a Replicant and later said the opposite. (Can't find sources ATM.) I enjoyed Prometheus (enough) and think Ridley's opinions are valid. – Meat Trademark Jul 17 '14 at 7:07
  • Unless Ford has changed his tune - which is always possible - I was under the impression that he played Deckard as human. Wikipedia (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replicant#Was_Deckard_a_replicant.3F) seems to agree with me. – James Sheridan Jul 17 '14 at 10:20

What Andrew Thompson said. It is acknowledged to be a primordial Earth in the screenplay - even the far superior, pre-Lindelof version - and the film itself heavily, heavily implies it, though it is never explicitly stated. I'm surprised you would consider it to be another planet for even a second, to be honest.

Here's the original Jon Spaihts screenplay (Prometheus was still called Alien: Engineers then). And this is the very first line in said screenplay:


EXT. EARTH - DAY (12,000 B.C.)

(bolding mine)

Now, continuing further, as if that wasn't enough.

The world turns below us, vast and slow.

A RUMBLE. A shadow sweeps over the land. We move with the shadow. We cast the shadow.

Landscapes slide by. Reduced by altitude to abstractions: river deltas, forests and flood plains. A raw natural world. No trace of civilization.

The shadow glides over mountains and glaciers. Across an ocean and a pale beach.

Over lowland plain at the foot of a VOLCANIC MOUNTAIN it stops.


THREE FIGURES walk out of the shadow.

They are men - and yet not men. Their skin is snow-white. Their features heavy and classical - as if Rodin’s Thinker had risen from his seat. Their smooth heads are earless and hairless. Their glittering eyes entirely black.

Against the stark land their height is impossible to judge. They are ENGINEERS.

Two of them are cloaked in dark robes of strange design.

The third is naked.

One of the cloaked Engineers opens a featureless black box: inside lies a cake of dark, sticky material.

The naked one lifts the dark cake with ceremonial slowness. It hums and buzzes. Foams into iridescent spheres. He raises the seething cake to his mouth like the sacrament.

BLACK SCARABS boil out of the dark material. Swarm over his lips. Glittering insects that chitter and bite.

Under the swarm his lips melt away. A horrific vision of teeth, black blood, dissolving bone. They are devouring him.

I don't think I need to go further. While there were some changes in the finished film, such as there only being one Engineer, this seems to be fairly clear evidence that the opening scene was always intended to be on Earth. Even Lindelof's inferior screenplay agrees with this:

In the beginning, there was...




BRIGHTNESS. So sudden it HURTS our eyes... but now it gives way to --

WATER. Intensely BLUE, untouched and PRISTINE as the rays of the SUN dance off its glasslike surface. CLEAR. UNTOUCHED. And we’re SOARING OVER IT -- The RUMBLE -- DEEP AND LOW -- And now we SEE SOMETHING moving over the clear water --

A SHADOW. Shaped like an enormous HORSESHOE. And whatever we are IN right now, THAT is what’s casting it. MOVING ALONG THE SURFACE at increasing VELOCITY as we finally hit --

(bolding Lindelof's)

Again, I could go on, but this answer is long enough. It's obvious - even though this is, admittedly, not Lindelof's final draft, as I couldn't find that - that the planet was always meant to be Earth, Ridley Scott's ex post facto comments aside. Enjoy comparing the screenplays I've linked, fellow masochists.

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    Ah, the unexplained downvote; the hallmark of Stack Exchange. – James Sheridan Jul 17 '14 at 6:24
  • You do know that downvotes aren't supposed to be explained unless the voter thinks their comment can help improve the post, right? If someone thinks you're just plain wrong, then a comment saying so is needless duplication of the downvote's message. – BESW Jul 17 '14 at 6:27
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    If my answer is wrong, then a downvoter should explain why it is wrong. It's what I do whenever I downvote (unless, of course, there are previous comments which already explain the reason). – James Sheridan Jul 17 '14 at 6:44
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    @JamesSheridan I agree with you 83%. Sometimes I downvote like a facepalm, but I usually leave a message why. Sometimes (unlike your downvote) it's because the question or answer was just profoundly stupid or misguided. I'm guessing the DV was because you couldn't link to the source at the moment and someone couldn't be arsed to give you the benefit of doubt. We don't have a lot trolls here, but it's easy to "be in a mood" or whatever. Forget about it, James, it's C̶h̶i̶n̶a̶t̶o̶w̶n̶ STACK EXCHANGE! +1 just for the Hell of it. – Meat Trademark Jul 17 '14 at 7:22
  • I agree with you, James. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jul 17 '14 at 7:39

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