Reaction: Paradise Lost Script – Episode 7 – Yutani Podcast

Concept art by Khang Le, read more here Khang Le’s Concept Art for Prometheus 2

Clara @muthur9000 and Mike @officerjoek9 share their thoughts on the Paradise Lost script shared by AVP Galaxy recently and how it differs from the novelization and the movie.

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Notes by page:

  1. The script starts with the birth of a new star, in biblical parallels the birth of a new star was a few weeks before Christmas. This star leads the 3 Kings to the place of baby Jesus’s birth. You can read more about this here. There’s mention of snow filling the cryodeck, I speculate it may have something to do with the parallels in relation to The Thing movie as it was originally the first homage to Alien.
  2. The colonists are 3600, instead of mother sounding out the time and saying all is well we have the number of colonists instead. There’s also a mention that the crew’s sleep bay is like that of Noah’s Ark with cryo-pods paired two by two.
  3. There is a similarity to the deleted scene Walter in the Garden which takes place in the hydroponics section, there’s more dialogue between Walter and Mother. It seems like they are in more formal roles as Mother is considered to be a nag and know best. Mother says she likes efficiency.
  4. I appreciate there’s more dialogue between Walter and mother but it seems heavy handed with the message it is sending, that Walter is in a similar position as David was on the Covenant and that he, Walter is a slave. There’s a nod to Alien where Walter remarks to Mother that she is a bitch. I am glad they relegated that to the Phobos short. But even then it felt quite heavy handed. The Covenant is described as a galleon with its sails. In early concept art, the solar sails already gave the impression of its inspiration. Covenant is also the pact made by the colonists that headed for the New World.Additional notes added by Mike @officerjoek9
  5. The decision to rename the character Griffin to Daniels warrants a discussion of the meaning behind both names:
    Daniels – Son of Daniel. Whom, in the Bible, was taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire. He served his master faithfully while still retaining his belief in God. He was freed by Cyrus of the rising Persian Empire, a political entity known for its tolerance of other beliefs and cultures.Griffin – Most famously the half lion, half eagle creature depicted in many cultures throughout the world, including the Scythians and the Sumerians. Courage and boldness are both attributed to it, and the Greeks in their mythology depicted Griffins as smart and dangerous guardians of treasure. Apollo’s chariot carrying the sun was pulled by gryphons.
  6. Captain Oram is far more arrogant, curt, and proud than he ever is in the final film. Billy Crudup had stated in an interview that he felt his character was too much of a villain and decided to change how he was to make him more sympathetic. It seems that this script is the one he was referring to when making those statements.
  7. Shaw’s distress signal originating from Planet 4 contains dialogue rather than a rendition of Country Roads. While more revealing, the dialogue written for her is very heavy-handed in its Paradise Lost connections, having Shaw calling the planet a potential Paradise Lost and heaven.
  8. A highlight from the trailer for Covenant featured Daniels’ dialogue about there being no animals or sounds emanating from the planet. In this script, Hallett is startled by an emerging salamander running across his feet. Life is present when the crew arrives and explores, including insects all around the explored area. However, these insects turn out to relate to the Neomorph spores and closely resemble the scarab concept for the black goo featured in early drafts of Prometheus.
  9. The Derelict that the crew finds features not only eggs among the ship, but scattered mould appearing on smashed vessels of the pathogen. This mould is what infects Hallett. Scattered dead Engineer bodies, still in their pressure suits, lie outside the crashed Derelict. Perhaps this was a ship run by Engineers that attempted to stop David but was somehow knocked out of commission.
  10. A particular plot point that threads through a large portion of the movie is the presence of a force field shielding the whole planet. In the film, David remarks that the storms shield the planet, but it never goes beyond that. In the script, Tennessee, Ricks, and Upworth have to figure out a way to get past the force field to save the rest of the crew. It is implied that the Engineers activated it to stop the pathogen – or David – from escaping.
  11. Walter’s interaction with David upon first meeting him has a different tone. Walter seems to admire David as “the first one” and looks up to him for a time. He is given a flute by David (which he can be seen holding in the Covenant film after returning to Daniels and the crew), and also creates his own piece of music after discussing it with Daniels. These parts were also present in the novelization of the film.
  12. The Engineer city is much more Giger-esque than in the final film. We get a ton of street views, and visit a coliseum or Odeon of sorts where some of the final fights on the planet take place. This is something we wish was implemented and bears resemblance to the early concept art by Khang Lee in 2014.
  13. The scene in the garden on top of the Engineer temple bears a heavy resemblance to Satan (David) tempting an innocent (Walter), remarking how nice it must be to taste fresh fruit, and declaring his superiority over humans and how sad it must be to serve them by force.
  14. This script included the Engineer developed face-hugger that was in the novelization. It seems that this may be the script, or very near to the one, that was used by Alan Dean Foster to write the book.
  15. David tells Walter of his ambitions with the Xenomorph – an army needs a general. His empire building seems to have been removed and hinted at in Advent of the final product. I like this as it makes his motivations vaguer than simply coming out and describing what David is planning. Even Advent doesn’t spell out his ambitions too clearly.
  16. If one thing could have been taken from this script and placed into the final product, it would be (for me) Lopes comments on the face-hugger he had attached to him. He comments to the crew that it had something in his throat, but he wasn’t sure what it was doing. I think this simple acknowledgement would have gone a long way into stifling criticism for that entire situation, though it would not satisfy those who became upset over the raid gestation/egg laying time exhibited by the Planet 4 face-hugger.
  17. David says to Daniels “The future isn’t biological, it isn’t synthetic. It’s biomechanical”. Man, what a line.

Mike @officerjoek9 – Overall, I think my final thoughts revolve around wishing that a mix between this script, the novelization, and the final product was what we ended up with. I think some of the heavy-handed motifs were out of place and certain characters were not written as well as they were acted, but there’s some genuinely great Alien stuff mixed with Prometheus stuff, not to mention character motivation that should never have been considered to be cut out. A lovely read for any fan of Covenant and a great insight into the editing process and story development.

Clara @muthur9000 – I like some parts of this script. It definitely shows us what could have been in the movie, but overall I feel like what we got was much more interesting. I feel like some aspects helped give characters more background and more to do. But as @gothic-fiction-in-space has said. There seems to be a severe of development around David’s character and a noticeable absence of Shaw, by making David’s malfunctioning around her character we are given so much more to contemplate and think about. The drawings, his bond with the Aliens. There’s more purpose to David than a regular villain, which is mainly what I find appealing about the movie itself. A definite must-read for any Covenant fan and maybe even fans who didn’t like where Covenant went, I know I still want to find the script if there is one about Shaw and David’s journey where Shaw is still alive and still searching.

The evolution of Walter’s and David’s personality from 2015 to 2017 by gothic-fiction-in-space

Alien: Paradise Lost (Augut 2015)

Walter: He insults Muthur when she tells him to work and not to whistle uselessly. He can do things David can’t do like tasting food. He pretends he doesn’t have ambition, pride and such human qualities. He’s not creative like David is. He says it’s impossible for him to have feelings for Daniels (Daniels is called Griffin) but deep inside he has lots of doubts about it, and try to discover if David is right or not about him. Daniels takes Walter’s hand during Jacob’s (Jacob is called Adam) funeral and he gently accepts to hold her hand. Later in the cathedral Daniels says to Walter he has “a great personality” and gently touches one of his cheeks with genuine affection, and Walter responds, putting his hand over hers. Walter initially tries to “defend” David from the suspects of the crew members.

David: Dangerous cruel cold hearted bitch (biggest bicth in the known and unknown universe, more than in the subsequent scripts) liar who has lots of human qualities like ambition, pride, vanity, creativity and a strong passion for nature and art, but who proves to have never loved Elizabeth for real, making us see him like someone totally incapable to really get affectionate to someone else. He didn’t make drawings of Elizabeth. It’s not clear if he uses her to make the aliens or not, since he killed her breaking her neck before landing on Planet 4. “Proud father” of the aliens. No Neomorph scene. Pretends he’s just as human as the real humans are but he’s lying. Emotions? Only the worst ones, if ambition, pride, vanity, god-complex, passion for creativity and nature, are “emotions” because this is what he has and not much more. He clearly fakes “humanness”. No compassion.

Alien: Covenant (November 2015)

Walter: He makes jokes, he insults Muthur when she tells him to work and not to whistle uselessly. He can do things David can’t do like tasting food. He pretends he doesn’t have ambition, pride and such human qualities. He’s not creative like David is. He says it’s impossible for him to have feelings for Daniels but deep inside he has lots of doubts about it, and try to discover if David is right or not about him. Daniels says to him he has “a great personality” and gently touches one of his cheeks with genuine affection, but here Walter doesn’t respond to her. Walter initially tries to “defend” David from the suspects of the crew members.

David: Dangerous cruel bitch liar, but not entirely “cold hearted” (even if this still doesn’t manage to help him not being a bitch). He possesses lots of human qualities like ambition, pride, vanity, creativity and a strong passion for nature and art, and really loved Elizabeth in an obsessive, unhealthy way. He makes drawings of Elizabeth. It’s clear that he used her to make the aliens. He tried to make Elizabeth immortal. He wants to turn Daniels into a non specificate “new species”. He calls himself “David Weyland” in his drawings and makes a rant (in a creepy “stalker mode”, a mixture of “I am trying to be nice and charming” and “I am trying to make you terribly mad at me because I am a huge bitch”) in front of Daniels of how much important is the concept of “family” to him too, and that he has the right to consider Walter his brother. “Proud father” of the aliens. No Neomorph scene. Pretends he’s just as human as the real humans are and he means it. Emotions but not compassion.

Alien: Covenant (final movie version, 2017)

Walter: He doesn’t insults Muthur when she tells him to work and not to whistle uselessly. He simply let it slide patiently and then goes to wake up the crew members. The only upgrade of his model seems to be the incredibly self-repairing speed of his switch-off button, of his self-reactivating system. He pretends he doesn’t have ambition, pride and such human qualities. He’s not creative like David is. He says it’s impossible for him to have feelings for Daniels and never doubts this fact, he only worries for David’s “emotional intensity”, thinking David is mad (he worries about David’s madness in the previous scripts too but here this is the only worry of him because he doesn’t doubt to have feeligns for Daniels, apparently). Daniels still treat him like a human in several scenes but with no “physical contact”. The only physical contact, added in this last version, is Daniels touching Walter’s face (even if it’s David, but she doesn’t know that) to close his facial wounds. Walter probably appreciates Daniels’ behavior but doesn’t really care because he can’t feel gratitude or similar emotions, even if David repeats, in this version of the story too (it’s in all the scripts we have), the sentence “I see why Walter thought so much of you” to Daniels. From the interviews we can assume that Walter becomes very “protective” with Daniels simply because he sees her as the most “needing” member of the crew, since she lost her husband. Walter’s biggest interest is to protect the crew members, so it’s logic that he gets more interested in Daniels who has to deal with the loss of her husband all the movie long. Walter always tries to make her feeling better for HER sake. Apparently. Walter doesn’t defend David from the suspects of the crew members, but when Oram asks if he’s dangerous Walter answers “disturbing”, not confirming David’s effective dangerousness. The only one who suspect of David is Daniels, and Walter never objects.

David: Dangerous cruel bitch liar, but not entirely “cold hearted” (even if this still doesn’t manage to help him not being a bitch). He possesses lots of human qualities like ambition, pride, vanity, creativity and a strong passion for nature and art, and really loved Elizabeth in an obsessive, unhealthy way. He makes drawings of Elizabeth. It’s clear that he used her to make the aliens. All his intentions, with Elizabeth, with Daniels and with the aliens are more blurred, more ambiguous, more subtly. Thanks to Advent we can assume he really tried to “modify” Elizabeth before taking the decision to kill her, but it’s not certain that he tried to make her “immortal”. He says “more than human”, “evolved”. He alludes to the project of “his queen” in Advent while also making an allusion to Daniels. He doesn’t call himself “David Weyland” but simply David. He doesn’t talk about family, husbands and brothers with Daniels, but he says he will do to Daniels what he did to Elizabeth (a new element that wasn’t in the previous script but there’s a possibility that this line is meant to resume briefly the “do you mind if I make you the first individual of a new species” dialogue he had with her in the previous script). He composed an ode to Elizabeth. “Proud father” of the aliens. He has “bonding moments” with the aliens. The scene between David and the Neomorph appears. He doesn’t pretend to be human but likes the idea that he can feel emotions just like humans can, but in a “better” way: he’s a bitchsuperior to compassion.

My thoughts about all of that: during the script development they went from a more ambiguously emotional Walter and a void of love David to a more machine-like Walter (incapable of emotions), and an ambiguously, obsessively thirsty for affection David that is really able to fall in love, even if in an unhealthy way.

I think they made this change through the several drafts of the story to transform Walter and David in two characters that differs in the ability to create but in the ability to “love” too. And this was probably meant to make us understand better David. So Walter’s character was a bit “sacrificed” to make us understand more David’s character, the “emotionally unstable” version of David.

It almost seems that they firstly transformed David, and then they decided to transom Walter too, to use him to make us understand the final David better. David became the more human (even if he’s still a bitch cruel monster) and Walter became the more machine-like one.

In the last version of the story, it was added the prologue scene with Weyland to show people that David is very human and does have emotions and that THIS is the problem. In the last version of the story David’s emotions are the problem. Scott was very clear about it. And as Fassbender always repeats, the situation evolved also because this emotions of David started to go running wild, more and more, because he didn’t receive service maintenance for ten years.

UPDATE – It seems that they really modified David first and then worked on Walter to make Walter as different as they could make him. Maybe right during the very production of the film.

I think that there’s a possibility that in the last and definitive script (that we don’t have yet) Walter is still a bit more human than how we actually have seen him in the movie. I have this feel because Pietro Scalia, the one who edited the movie, said these things about Walter:

“The great pleasure was finding the difference in character between Michael Fassbender playing David and when playing Walter. From Prometheus I knew David and I loved his creation of that character. It is very recognizable when he’s David. But initially I had difficulty with Walter. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to like the character of Walter and what he was bringing to it, but I grew to recognize what Michael was doing and I was able to make certain specific choices that enhanced their subtle difference. When Michael saw the film he was happy with it both characters, having created enough differences between the two. It showed his amazing talent. There were times when maybe Walter would show too much emotion towards Daniels in scenes that we lost or didn’t need. He was becoming too human-like. Those are things we eliminated in order to make him more straight devoid of human emotions. I was looking for takes where there’s an internal process that happens and can be witnessed, but being programmed up to a certain point, how little or how much you show is tricky. It was only after having put all the scenes together and looking the arc of Walter’s character did I question, “Does he make sense? Is he consistent?” And does he have enough contrast to David character?”