Prometheus: A Fan’s View

9 Jun

So you may have read my review of Prometheus. Here is a runthrough of some of the interesting issues that can be discussed about the film.

 

Fire From The Gods

Let’s start with the title. Prometheus, the Titan in Greek mythology who not only stole fire from the gods, but also created man from clay. A figure that historically has represented scientific endeavour. The Modern Prometheus was the subtitle for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

So what does that have to do with nasty space monsters?

The title of the film is also the name of the exploratory vessel that takes the Scientists to LV-223. In a way, Prometheus is the collective name for the crew of the ship, and the mission that they have embarked upon. To go and speak with the creators of mankind; to go and speak with God. It soon becomes clear to the crew that the gods are pissed. They are intent, or were intent, on wiping out all life on Earth, by sending a number of ships filled with bioweapons to the Solar System.

This can be seen as a lovely, Ridley Scott version of Prometheus being chained to a rock and having his liver eaten eternally.

If we are to believe that the Engineers/Space Jockeys are indeed the ‘gods’ of this story, then they are pissed off with mankind for some reason. Some way in which we have advanced technologically enough to be considered a threat? Is it the knowledge of space travel? The creation of artificial life?

In my opinion, no. When carbon dating the dead body of the Engineer outside the ‘worship room’ of their ship, they say that it’s been there 2000 years. Now, what happened approximately 2000 years ago in the history of mankind…

Jesus is yo’ homeboy.

Now, I’m not saying that the birth of Christianity and the life of Jesus Christ was what caused the Engineers to want to bring xenomorphy death down on us all, but there seems to be a hint in the film, namely this:

“It’s fun to stay at the YMCA!”

Yes, that’s a xenomorph, seemingly in a Christ-like pose.

Which brings the question, are these Engineers actually our gods? It seems they created us, but do they see themselves as the creators? Do they have any gods of our own? Was the birth – or the sacrifice – of Christ the reason for them to try to wipe us out? Why Christianity over any other religion?

But the question of the Engineers brings us to a further question…


Engineers or Engineered?

Now this is by no means foolproof. But isn’t it a bit strange that the Engineers/Space Jockeys appear in the same monochrome colour scheme as the xenomorphs, and the other nameless creations in their facilities on LV-223? The total lack of pigment in their skin and eyes, and the lack of hair. Apparently they have identical (or I assume near-identical) DNA to us. This is why the bioweapons that they have engineered to react to DNA (such as they did when the crew of the Prometheus went into the vase room) also react to the Engineers, leading to their eventual demise.

I have a wild theory that the Engineers themselves were created by something else. The way that the final living Engineer reacts to the proto-facehugger at the end of the film is very strange. There seems to be a lack of emotion, an almost automatic response to having to deal with the Lovecraftian nightmare trying to eat its face. They are all the same sex as well; they appear to be identical, in fact.

“I dare you to say we all look alike again, you SPACE RACIST!”

The only time you see real emotion, or any kind of reaction in fact, is when David speaks to them. It attacks violently afterwards, decapitating David first before turning on the humans. Why this reaction? Is it, perhaps, that it saw David as something similar to itself; a construct by another being. Had humanity finally stepped into the realm of the engineers by creating something themselves?

Finally, I have one more thought about the Engineers, and it perhaps ties into my previous, Christianity-based hypothesis. We are mankind – we were created in the image of a higher being, but given autonomy to live our lives the way we wanted. The Engineers are the angels in this allegory. Also created by the same being, treated as guardians until an eventual revolt. Are all the Engineers out to kill us, like those found on LV-223? Not necessarily. But given that the Engineers visited Earth at some point in the past, beyond the shown life-creation scene at the beginning of Prometheus, it seems as though they have had some kind of protector role for our species and our planet before.

 

Paranoid Android

David, played by Michael Fassbender, was by far the most interesting character for me. Despite being an android, he seemed to have by far the most depth as a character. What were his intentions?

It isn’t quite as simple as a robot being programmed to do things by the corporation, as it was in Alien. Ian Holm was terrifying as Ash, but David takes it to a whole other level. Instead of the cold aggression that Ash shows, David has a calculating edge. He chooses his words wisely; he is duplicitous, dangerous, and more than a little clever. The way he tricks Holloway into ingesting some of the primordial goop is ingenious. He almost always has the upper hand in his relationship with Shaw, and it is one of the few relationships that actually develop in the film – particularly the way she begins to trust him until his betrayal. You get the sense that, even at the end of the film, David is hiding something. He has, perhaps, developed a sentience of his own. He tells Shaw how he wants to see his ‘father’ dead, which makes you wonder exactly what he said to the Engineer.

Look at his lovely, robot face.

The only time David is not in full control of the situation is after he has been decapitated and is left on the ship. Even then you see another development in his character – he clearly does not want to ‘die’. Sensing that Shaw is the only chance for him to survive, he helps her to escape the lifeboat and then come to his assistance, so they can both get off LV-223.

The other relationship that threatens to be interesting in the film is that between David and Meredith Vickers. With Vickers as Weyland’s daughter and David as his ‘son’, there is a clear tension between the two. But, is Vickers all that she seems? Remember, we never see her come out of her stasis pod. Her only two modes are self-preservation and supporting the decisions of Weyland himself. The only time she ever diverts from this is when the ship’s captain asks if she is an android herself. I’m not saying she is…but think about it.

 

Anyway, I think that will do for now. I’ll leave you with this: I may well have been massively overthinking this film, and it could be nothing more than a big dumb sci-fi actioner. But, I’d like to think that instead of the plot-holes being plot-holes and the problems being problems, instead it is all part of a larger plan, that we may – or may not – see in a sequel.

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6 Responses to “Prometheus: A Fan’s View”

  1. Dan McMichael June 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Very much enjoyed that.
    You’ve really hit the nail on the head I think with David being just that little bit more than an android. Notably when he tells her he can get them back home, and Shaw says she wants to go “where THEY came from” and he pauses and genuinely looks displeased/dislikes the idea before reluctantly agreeing. Which clearly shows IMO he does feel emotion.

    Vickers was possibly my second favourite character. I enjoyed how you said “threatening to be interesting” because she really could have done with a little bit more to her but what was there was more notable than a lot of the others. Maybe it’s just me but I felt there was some kind of sexual undercurrent (for Vickers at least) with the scene between her and David where she’s asking him “what did he say”, particularly as she dominantly rubs/wipes her hand over his face then aggressively storms off. This little act of psycho-social dominance is perhaps key in revealing her to be human (that and Elba’s character NOT coming running out of her bedroom going SHIT SHE’S A ROBOT). She is Weyland’s daughter (likely a test tube child IMO given her and Weyland’s respective ages). Weyland himself said David was as close to a son as he would get. I believe she struggles with David’s identity as Weyland’s “son” feeling herself as a true biological child to be superior over David.

    I also enjoyed her banter with the Captain, especially the unexpected turn it took at the end (“My room… ten minutes”). For me it hinted at much deeper character potential. She is very much the stock character: a driven, ruthless, meticulous corporate executive, yet she is also very much a woman and has certain needs that the rest of us have as well. That scene with the Captain to me was her ruthless corporate exec struggling with her inner femininity and desires, which helped flesh her character out just that little bit more.

    And yes, she was also one of the few sensible people on board the ship with her intent to close the cargo doors before the storm arrived and with her “execution”/ assisted suicide of Holloway.

    I think the Christianity reading might be a bit too looking for needles in a haystack. We know Giger is responsible for a lot of the aesthetics and design work and that “worship” image bares heavy resemblance to several of gigers works (indeed he casually employs cruciform-esque poses regularly). So I think that image is more just cus it’s Giger’s influence…

    Sorry about the essay…

    • Rob Gordon June 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      Thanks for the essay, don’t apologise!

      Vickers was definitely my second-favourite character. I definitely agree about all the points you made, plus the test-tube idea kind of helps the idea of her rivalry with David – as neither would have definite bragging rights to be the ‘read’ flesh and blood of Weyland. I just like the idea of the two andoid siblings. For me, that sudden switch in conversation with the captain was more of a reaction to what he said than a deeper emotional character thing. I really hope we get to see more of her character in the inevitable director’s cut!

      As for the Christianity angle, let me dream, damnit! I’d like there to be more depth to the imagery than ‘Giger is fucking cool so let’s put it all over the place’. I think I’m unlikely to see it though haha 🙂

  2. Matt Russell June 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    My theory is that David said “I fucked your mum” in alien.

    • Rob Gordon June 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

      Subtitles to be added to the director’s cut please! Although I’d prefer the colloquial “I fucked yo’ mamma”.

      • stippidoo June 10, 2012 at 7:45 am #

        Cool, we could set up a ‘what did he say…’ & add the subtitles 🙂
        I would go for… Yo mama is so fat, she sat on your iPod & made it an iPad!

        Great post again, very interesting points.

      • Rob Gordon June 10, 2012 at 8:48 am #

        I think it could definitely be a meme in the future!

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