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Thoughts on Prometheus

If you have read any of my other entries, you know that I get to things pretty late in the game. Prometheus is no exception! I waited for it to be available via download so I could enjoy it in the comfort of my own home. My initial thoughts were this: It’s a decent movie, but its tonally uneven. The main problem is that it seems to be trying to deal with 2001: Space Odyssey type themes and material, but using the plot of a more down to earth scifi horror film. There are unspoken rules, and I think that not mixing existential questions about existence with a scene with the line “Let’s see if we can trick the nervous system into thinking its alive.” (WHAT!?) should be one of them. It was fun though, but given the mixture of very straightforward elements (We’re battling a zombie now.) with the more ambiguous elements, its understandable why people are a little enraged by this film.

This rage comes from how we appreciate art. Appreciating art means filling in the gaps with your own version of events. Sometimes those gaps are filled in the same way by everyone. For instance if in one scene in a movie it is day, and in the next scene it is night, most viewers will assume that time has passed, and day has turned into night between the scenes. On the other hand if we examine the 2001 example, many people interpreted what happened at the end of the movie differently. This is because it requires deeper contemplation, or searching the internet for the answer. (which is how I found out.) When I watched 2001, I understood by the visuals that there was a deeper meaning to interpret. Why was the man in the bed? Why was there a star child? Why did I just go on a ten minute acid trip? In Prometheus the visuals and the action are much more concrete, and so our expectations are for more concreteness and directness in how to fill the gaps. Instead we get ambiguity where concreteness should be, and concreteness where ambiguity should lie.

Here’s my interpretation:

The planet that the prometheus traveled to was a weapon research facility run by those tall white guys. Those tall white guys are an advanced alien race. At the begininning of the movie, a tall white guy drinks something, falls apart, and his DNA recombines into new life. That something he drinks is most likely related to the substances we see later in the movie, but one that is specifically designed to make tall white guys fall apart and seed life on a planet. I was trying to figure out the motivation of that guy. For instance do you have to sacrifice yourself in this process? But after a while it made sense. It’s their answer to Weylands desires at the end of the movie. Want to live forever? Then drink some of this, fall apart, and seed life on an entire planet. Could you imagine if that was an option when you were dying? Sounds a lot better than being buried in wooden box. Weylands mistake, of course, was trying to hold on to his own consciousness. In a way he will already live forever through David, but Weyland is unable to appreciate that.

So another thing that the white aliens have invented is this substance which is meant to be used as a weapon. That’s what we see later in the movie. This stuff will infect a little worm and make it a super strong, super aggressive snake. It will infect a human and make him into an unstoppable aggressive killing machine, even if you try to burn him to death. Finally, it will infect the uterus of a woman, and become the most horrifying, gigantic, aggressive placenta ever seen. What we see are all initial side affects of the substance. The eventual goal of this substance is to create a xenomorph. The substance that alien drinks at the beginning of the movie decomposes you and turns you into the seeds for all life. The weapon substance transforms all lifeforms into death, or xenomorphs. It’s a pretty devastating weapon if you think about it. This is why  there is a picture of the xenomorph in the main room that they find, because that image is the purpose of the black substance. It is easy then to assume that there does not have to be a direct link between the xenomorph at the end f prometheus, and any of the others in the series. We can assume that the substance got out and infected the crew of the ship that then crashed the planet from “Alien” creating different xenomorphs which are the ones we have already seen..

FInally, why did the aliens want to destroy us? This point is just my guess, but I’d like to think its somewhat true. The white aliens seeded life on Earth. Did they do that to create humans? Maybe. But maybe instead they needed a place to test the weapon substance. Maybe they needed to ensure it worked. There are several points in history where almost all life disappeared. Sure in real life it was probably meteors, but in this movie, why can’t it just be these guys testing their weapons on life on Earth? When they came around last time, they saw humans, and thought “Aww, let’s see if they turn out okay.” They left us maps of how to find us, and watched to see what happened. We don’t learn what happened to change their minds, but at some point they decided “These human should go.” It’s possible that the event that changes their minds is the Prometheus landing in the first place. In any case Shaw specifically says she wants to find out why, and we aren’t told, so its a mystery. In my mind going from destroyer to protector to destroyer makes a little more sense than going from creator destroyer.

In the end it was pretty fun, although flawed experience. Damon Lindelhof got a lot of slack for this one, and its really not all that bad. It is a shame though that a sci fi movie brought up the questions of existence and life, and answered them with a slasher action movie. Where’s Kubrick when we need him?

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