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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prometheus Revisited

I know I've already written about this over exposed religious space epic but I couldn't resist coming back to it after having seen it again last night.

I didn't see it twice because I thought it was worthy of a second look but merely because a friend wanted to see it and as a cinema employee I get in for practically free so why not?

This is not a review by the way, just some random things I thought of during the revisit...

The thing that really bugged me about this film was that the space suits were inconsistently strong or weak depending on what scene they were in! In particular during the massive wind storm that blows Dr Shaw away, battering her body with cricket ball sized scoria, and not a single crack in her space helmet! Then as the film progresses the bearded geologist, now transforming into a bearded something else, can smash a helmet open with one punch! I'm not happy with these helmets at all!

The second thing was that the alien nazca lines that lead the Prometheus to the alien domes of terror, apparently visible for thousands of years, are somehow impervious to such colossal rock storms!

There is a sort of stick it in your face yet sympathetic blow to Christianity in this film as well. Shaw wears a cross because her father was a missionary and yet she has chosen to believe in the Engineers, the "true" makers of our species. One thing I noticed, that could be my own spiritual paranoia, was that when they find the first evidence of a fallen headless Engineer they date it's demise to 2000 years ago, a date which coincides to the beginning if Christianity. Was the film saying that just as the Engineers were on the brink of wiping out the human race in a sort of genetic holocaust the majority of the western civilization were about to embrace the Christian faith. In other words just as the world was about to reject their "true" engineers we decide to embrace this Jesus and become worthy of extinction?

Maybe I'm going to far, but in this movie you can't help but try to decipher it's religious or anti-religious over tones, as well as it's almost evangelical approach to the ancient alien hypothesis which I am convinced, after weeks of watching History Channel's Ancient Aliens, that this pseudo-science is the seed of a new religion to satisfy those who can't stomach either random Evolution or the Christian God.

Anyway, a sequel is eminent and the question rises, where do you go from here? Shaw is speeding off to find the Engineers home world while more horrors remain undiscovered on the planet. I want to see what happens to Shaw but I also want to know if a follow up expedition come to the planet to get wiped out by the giant worms that have nothing else to eat!

I thought one interesting idea for a sequel could be another prequel, go back several thousand years to the origin of disease, maybe they could suggest that the engineers first tried to control us or destroy us on a microscopic scale by bringing Pandora's Box to planet Earth? Pandora, the prequel to Prometheus.

The possibilities for more of Ridley's space saga are various and tempting.

I only have one request - put David's head back on his body! I keep trying to figure out if Shaw can fix it because why else would she have taken his body if not to return his head to it. But can she trust David not to carry out his original mission and bring the horrible cargo back to Earth?

There is a lot being said about this film. Half of all who have seen it seem to be in the "hate it" camp while the rest of us like it.

As a Christian the whole ancient alien thing doesn't phase me because I know it's nonsense, and although I disagree with the overall message of this film I do think it's new seat in pop-culture makes it worthy of attention and thoughtful criticism.

Two days later...

Ok I'm still thinking about this movie and realized that if Ridley wanted to take the film's connection to the Greek myth further than just the name of the doomed ship then it's possible that there are more "engineers" involved than just the ones in this film. In the Greek story Prometheus was the Titan responsible for giving humans fire or in other words the ability to advance technologically, a crime that led to his eternal punishment by Zeus.

In Greek mythology the Olympian gods came from the Titans.

So here is where I am going with this:

Applied to Ridley's story it could go something like this...

Millennia ago something older than the Engineers created them only to be overthrown by their creation which then went on to create the human race for their own purposes. But the Titan remnant then helped the Human race by giving them technology which made the Engineers realize eventually that we would soon do to them what they did to their originators. So they create Pandora's Box to control the human race with disease and limit our life span. But it doesn't work and the human race poses an imminent threat that must be stopped, so the engineers on LV- 426 set in motion a final solution which backfires and destroys them instead. Only to be discovered by the Prometheus and her crew 2000 years later.

But wait there's more, the humans have begun to do exactly the same thing, repeating history by creating androids like David with the ability to become an eventual threat to the Human race.

The android David seems to go to great pains to free himself from Wayland's control by leading him to his demise at the close of the film. History repeating itself.

Which takes me to my next line of thinking. Bladerunner.

Though currently Blade Runner has absolutely no connection to the Alien franchise there are obvious similarities such as the human-android tensions. In the movie Bladerunner Androids have been given a reduced lifespan to lessen the perceived threat they pose to humanity - this is eerily similar to what I suggested above, that the Engineers may have introduced disease to reduce the human life span and make us more controllable.

Going with the idea of history repeating itself an interesting direction the Alien franchise could take could be to suggest that in the same way the Titan Prometheus gave fire to the Humans which made us a threat to the Olympian gods, then the Engineers could do something to the androids to make them a greater threat to us; give them emotions perhaps? Or maybe even a soul were that possible. Or maybe Shaw could just arrive at the Engineer's home world only to discover the entire thing has been xenomorphed or destroyed by their creators!

One thing is for sure though, given the loose link to the myth of Prometheus, the Engineers can't be completely alone, something must have come before them, and that something made the human race too scary for them to allow to survive.

Anyone familiar with the newer version of Battlestar Galactica will recognize the obvious likeness in plot also!

And I'm still going. Having dwelt on this for as long as I have I can't help noticing the similarity with my own Judeo-Christian accounts of the Garden of Eden and the story of Prometheus. There are too many parallels between Prometheus and the Devil to be ignored. In the Book of Enoch (non-biblical text) the Devil tricks the watchers (a group if Angels charged to watch and guide the human race) to breed with human women, an event also touched on in Genesis Chapter 6 before the flood of Noah. One thing the Watchers also do is give humans technology, which they were also punished for, something strikingly similar to the Prometheus myth. Going back to the Garden if Eden, we see the Devil promising Eve that consuming the forbidden fruit would make her like a god (or God depending on the translation)... Something else that Prometheus is also championed for...

Of course I've wandered away from the film and am now dealing with spiritual and historical truths. But regardless of your's or my beliefs these stories resonate with something in either our psyche or soul because they touch on something that most if us can only grasp on the furthest corners of our consciousness - that there is a truth behind them about our past that we ought to take seriously. And that is Ridley's true genius, he has used source material that pinches the nerve of cultural or perhaps even genetic memory and that will be the thing that propels the popularity of this film.

I for one do not believe in the Ancient Alien theory. As I've alluded to above I believe that Angels are Angels and the ancient gods are the Devil's distractions against the the truth of the true "Engineer" of our existence. After all if the Engineers made us, who made them? Which is a valid question if the Engineers are bound to time and space, but if your Engineer is not limited by the laws of the Cosmos then you can end the need for endless Engineers with him, because outside the confines of time that kind of Engineer can create creating itself and therefore does not need to be created. That's my Engineer. That's my Jesus.

I hope Ridley leaves Jesus alone so I can continue to enjoy thus franchise and it's many speculations...

If I think of anything else I'll mention it later... But hopefully I'll just stop thinking about it altogether!

Sorry about the spelling, I texted this entry!

21st July - still thinking about this movie... Ok, not exactly, but I caught up with a mate I hadn't seen in a while tonight and of course Prometheus came up in the conversation. My friend didn't like the movie of course and for some reason I felt compelled to fly to it's aide. And in the course of the discussion I found my mouth blurting out something I hadn't previously considered, not consciously at least, and that was one very obvious similarity to Blade Runner which I can't believe I had missed - in the movie Blade Runner the militant android Roy Batty seeks Tyrell of Tyrell corporation, the "engineers" of the Blade Runner androids, because he wants an extension of life to his soon to be "dead" self. I thought it was very interesting that in Prometheus the character Weyland is seeking his creator for exactly the same thing!

What a strange coincidence! What is Ridley's personal interest in that theme? Does he seek immortality himself I wonder?

Anyway, I might as well add here that this week I got out Lawrence of Arabia so that I could figure out what David's obsession with that movie is all about and all I can say is wow, the impact of LofA on Prometheus is quite staggering, ranging from uses of dialogue like "there is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing" or "Big things have very small beginnings" and those are just the obvious ones.

What struck me the most about the two films though are the similarities in location. Some of the desert landscapes with towering rocks that look like structures are so similar I could almost think both stories took place on the same planet if it weren't for the difference in light and space suits! Some of the camera angles and shots are almost identical as well. I got all excited when an Arab guy dropped a goat skin into a well in a shot airily familiar with the hole in the Pyramid where the Prometheus crew first discover they can breath the air down there...

Most of all though, watching Lawrence has totally changed my perspective of David's motivation throughout the film. David adopts Lawrence's mannerisms, quotes and style if speech to such a degree that you have to wonder if he has also taken on Lawrence's attitude to authority. Lawrence is very much his own man and moves as he sees best despite the orders of his superiors. He does his own thing and acts according to his own sense of moral justice even to his detriment. So I think that David is like Lawrence. I don't think he is following orders at all when he puts his fellow crew mates at risk or when he speaks to the engineers, not now that I have had the education of his favorite movie. Although I've only seen part one, I might find myself proving myself wrong in a couple of days!

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