Prometheus: back on Alien territory – with a few glitches [Spoiler alert]

I finally got to see Prometheus. And I really enjoyed it. It had the requisite elements of Ridley Scott’s Alien movies: the aliens are evil; they come in several varieties and they get into people’s bodies scarily fast. I’m afraid this post includes some spoilers, as these observations are aimed at a readership that has seen the movie. Unlike some reviewers, I definitely recommend Prometheus. It’s highly entertaining: a good plot line – in fact numerous plot lines – and special effects. I have a few observations to add to the many reviews out there.

Legend and classical literature

In Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus created mankind of clay and stole fire from the gods for man to use. An immortal entity, he was punished for this by the eternal torment of being bound to a rock and having an eagle eating his liver, which would then grow back to be eaten again the next day. According to Hesiod’s Theogeny and Aeschylus’ tragic drama Prometheus Bound, he was eventually freed by Heracles.

Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound brings in creationism. Prometheus is transformed into a romantic hero and it is left to the anti-hero – the Demogorgon – to explain that God created mankind.

Ridley Scott’s Titan-like alien at first appears to sacrifice himself to create life (possibly) on Earth, and is later shown to have human DNA, although there is no mention or hint that he also created fire. Then he apparently changes his mind and creates more aliens to destroy life on Earth and eventually comes to a sticky end courtesy of the result of his latest bout of creativity. Ridley Scott’s creativity is surely a match for Ancient Greek mythology: I reckon having your liver eaten by an eagle would be less traumatic than being forced to undergo an extreme and fatal version of oral sex with a giant squid-like alien and die when a hybrid humanoid/Alien (as in the movie) bursts out of your abdomen…

Religion

The significance of the cross and creationism with direct references to Christianity and indirect reference to the Ancient Greek cult of Prometheus have been explored in detail by other reviews which rehearse the recurrent themes of self-sacrifice to save mankind and a succession of major characters having their abdomen ripped open in order to give life to…something. Biblical references include the alien birth on Christmas day and the Annunciation – John the Baptist’s mother, the prophetess Elizabeth, is the only barren woman in the Bible.

Inconsistencies

There have been many comments on Elizabeth’s DIY’ vending machine’ caesarean that removes the giant squid rapidly growing inside her and her request for a caesarean rather than an abortion, which indicates that she anticipates a live birth. Elizabeth first sees the surgery pod in Meredith Vickers’ quarters. So why is the surgery appliance configured for a male patient when it is installed in a female’s quarters. I realise that it could be intended for the old man, Weyland, but then why is it in Meredith’s rooms? There are other issues around the nature of the implements used to do the job and how they could possibly be applied to a male body, but I know little about surgery, so who knows? Like others, I was struck by the fact that notwithstanding the huge line of staples across Elizabeth’s abdomen, none of the crew members acknowledge the surgery or the fact that her alien child is alive and growing in Meredith Vickers’ quarters! Just as well Meredith didn’t need to go back to her rooms for anything…

Obvious inconsistencies about transportation to and from the alien structure. The fact that two geologists have been left behind isn’t discovered until the rest of the crew get back to Prometheus. But the group that did get back had to drive all the vehicles. Surely they would have assumed that the first two would have taken one and checked on their whereabouts?

Touching stuff

Finally, two observations that are not glitches but amused me:

The fast pick-up line where captain Janek asks Meredith Vickers “Are you a robot?” and her response is “Meet me in my room in ten minutes”! Someone once said to me “Are you a replicant?” referring to Blade Runner’s ‘Nexus-Seven’ replicant Rachael. I recall finding this somewhat unnerving, perhaps because one of the film’s key themes is the replicants’ tragic awareness of the brevity of their existence. Incidentally, the ability to have sex does not tend to be flagged up as a differentiator or a barrier between robots/replicants and humans – in Prometheus the differentiator is defined by Weyland (played by Guy Pearce – why didn’t they use a real old man?) as the possession of a soul rather than sexuality.

Another observation – that the apparently soul-less David can’t stop touching everything –  is illustrated in brilliant and hilarious fashion by Res Gestae on Deviant Art –

 

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