Prometheus and Alien: Ridley Scott’s Feeling for Flutes


We found at least a shred of evidence later in this documentary, directed by Charles De Lauzirika. A revealing scene shows Scott browsing a table of props, chosen by the designers for possible use in the film. Scott views the opportunity as a big-budget junkyard – grabbing items that catch his eye and suggesting where they might go or which character might handle them. Our hunch is that while walking through this junk table, Scott picked up a flute and suggested that it might get into the Engineers ship. Further evidence of this emerged a few years later, when an image of Ridley Scott playing the flute on the set of Prometheus, emerged on Twitter. It’s not quite a smoking gun, but a flute director is at least pretty close.

For years, this seemed to go as far as we could go with the mystery of the flute. But then in 2017 – almost exactly five years after talking to Anil Biltoo – we were finally able to broach the subject with Ridley Scott. Apparently Scott was in the country promoting Blade Runner 2049 – the sequel to his own classic from 1982, which he produced and directed by Denis Villeneuve. But Scott’s mind is far too alive and restless to stick to one topic for long, so our conversation took a pretty dramatic turn from Blade runner bombs from WWII to whether Leonardo da Vinci was a form of artificial intelligence.

From there, Scott began to think about ancient aliens – and whether the extraordinary creativity displayed by someone like Da Vinci or Mozart could have been the result of an intervention by an alien power. Seizing the moment, we asked: was that why the flute was in Prometheus and Alien: Alliance? Was this Scott’s way of saying the music was given to us by ancient aliens?

“Well, yeah,” Scott said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “The flute would probably be the most basic instrument – you get a reed, you punch a hole in it, blow and you get a sound. So I thought the flute was the most basic of all instruments – air. Or you could have percussion, drums. But I think it was air, to get an interesting and magical sound. But I still revolve around the idea of, I love the genius of Michelangelo. At the level of his brain, of his mathematical, technical, artistic mind. That makes him one of the absolute greats, really. He was 100 years ahead of his time. So yes, the flute is a symbol of simplicity, but also, it is a sonic lock: you play the right notes, it opens a door.

This, it seems, is pretty much a definitive answer: the flute was Scott’s addition to Prometheus, born out of his seemingly sincere belief that what we see at the start of the film – life started on an Earth-like planet by engineers – has also happened in our reality.

“I believe in this possibility far more than I believe in the Holy Bible,” Scott told us emphatically.

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