Romy Shiller

Prometheus: Or, an open letter to Phil and a Review

In Film, review on June 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Everything ends, and Everything matters.

  Ron Currie Jr.

[warning: spoilers ahead]

I was inspired by what Phil said in A theory about Prometheus and the Space Jockeys‏. [Review Here]

For those of you that don’t know, Phil Edwards is the person behind Live For Films, the head-honcho, big-cheese or boss.

The following is not simply directed at Phil. There were many comments in response to his piece that influenced me.

I finally saw Prometheus. To get this out of the way – I liked it. The film came out in Montreal about one week after the UK.

Phil – I’ve been thinking of what you said and it’s highly rational. It might be interesting to note, however, that most films that are popular on this site require a leap of faith. Example: objects that transform into animated ‘beings’ or super-heroes with heightened abilities… All we can hope for is consistency, eh? Yeah, puddles of acid or breathable planet air might seem contentious [but explained as ‘terraforming.’]

To me, we can look at style here over substance. The aesthetic in the cave did harken back to Alien. I cannot look at Ridley Scott’s film without a ‘leap.’ Is the ‘world’ of this film believable? People seem to be looking for a ‘world’ that follows certain laws or rules. Scott may break certain rules but film is often like that. A “leap” might include certain story points.

I know that many people wanted an explicit Alien prequel, answers – I know that it’s frustrating for many people not to have things tied up in a bow. There were many aspects that linked it to Alien – but that was subtle not overt. A maternal metaphor continued [but it was hardly a metaphor] and especially in the cave, the style was very Alien – so much skeletal imagery. I do not need everything spelled out for me. Many people feel the same way.

Sure, there are simply badly written movies – in general, that’s what we’re here to decide…this is not a badly written movie.

Writer Lindelof saidEssentially what I proposed to them was that the movie didn’t need to lean as heavily on the Alien tropes that we were all familiar with. Eggs, face-huggers, chest bursters, acid blood, xenomorphs. I said that stuff can be a part of this movie, but I don’t think it needs to be what the movie’s about. 

There were certain scenes that seemed anomalous, I’m thinking particularly of the one between Dr. Shaw and the captain, but a relationship needed to be established to make his final action believable. A relationship that ran through the film would have been distracting and too much.

The opening/title sequence blew me away – visually super-stunning … the film’s look is one of the highlights.

An article that I read recounted a conversation with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski: With Alien…it’s a smaller drama. This film is an homage to many films, and it’s a comeback for the sci-fi film, something that Ridley [Scott] was responsible for creating. Alien and Blade Runner set a certain standard, but before that it was 2001, and before that it was Lawrence of Arabia and Ridley was aware of that.

Phil, you say that there is “the illusion of depth created by the visuals.” I respectfully disagree. I don’t see it as an illusion but more of an underline – “look at this” it screamed to me.

There some amazing comments in response to Phil’s piece. I want to address the problem with the medical pod set as a male default – even if it was built for Weyland. I am very glad that this is problematic to so many guys but unfortunately the ‘norm’ is considered male and females are a ‘deviation’ – even in this future. A utopian, egalitarian world would be nice but extremely unrealistic. Bummer.

Ideology is insidious, lasting – so it is not surprising to me at all to see this future.

Another thing – scientists are people who have varied personalities. Professionalism can be subjective. Another scientist [Elizabeth Shaw] calls the scientist who removes his helmet “a crazy bastard.” He is a risk-taker. Yes, even scientists can be “cowboys.”


Is Vickers an android? Well, her telling Weyland that it’s time to die is very similar to David wishing he were dead. I agree that it would be very interesting if she were a biological child.

She is more robotic than any robot I’ve seen. I think that because she’s so mechanical she’s probably human. Now THAT’S irony. Great acting choice.

Speaking of acting, Michael Fassbender is great. He was asked about his character named “David.” There was “Ash” in Alien and “Bishop” in Aliens but he was an earlier model of android. Did he reference their performance at all?

Fassbender: No. I don’t know why. Sometimes you do, like when I was doing Jane Eyre I watched asmany of the Rochesters as I could get my hands on, but for this I made a decision not to watch the Alien movies. I watched Blade Runner and I looked at the replicants. Well I looked at Sean Young. There was something in her character, a quality there that I kind of liked for David, this longing for something or some sort of a soul at play there, a sort of vacancy also, a sort vacant element. I don’t know exactly what, I just knew there was a quality there that I liked and then Hal from 2001 and then I sort of walked in with The Servant and Dirk Bogarde and that and then Lawrence Of Arabia, Peter O’Toole’s character of Lawrence and The Man Who Fell To Earth, David Bowie. So those were the kind of ingredients and then Greg Louganis, the diver, so that was sort of the mixture.

The film has several biblical references beyond a Jesus. In the bible, God also changes his mind, decides to wipe out humanity and sends the great flood … In the story of Noah’s Ark, God wants to cleanse the earth of humanity’s ‘wickedness.’

It might also serve us to regard the original myth of Prometheus: Prometheus is a Titan, cultural hero, and trickster figure who in Greek mythology is credited with the creation of man from clay [hmmm] and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence, and as a champion of mankind.

Many of Scott’s films have substantial themes eg. Thelma & Louise [producer],

Blade Runner, Alien – I think that he raises important issues. This film asks about the significance of our existence – a theme that runs through most of his films.

I like that David gets ‘miffed’ [even though that is ‘apparently’ not possible – good clue for when he wishes Weyland were dead] when told he was created ‘because they could.’ I kept thinking of – Alien Saga androids, replicants, cylons…

Dad and my mom referenced Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey in relation to specific aspects of this film – the name Dave or David, the computer sounded like HAL, the aging of Weyland was similar in ‘look’ to the other film. I find it quite significant that this film evoked another. They went beyond Alien and saw similarities in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now, obviously this film is not of the same caliber but there were commonalities.

Scott believes that Stanley Kubrick’s haunting 1968 epic 2001: A Space Odyssey…is as fresh (and perhaps more relevant) today as the day it premiered. 

Scott appears to be heavily influenced by Kubrick. An article I read says, “The film’s [2001: A Space Odyssey] primary themes include the origins of evolution; sentient computers; extra-terrestrial beings; the search for one’s place in the universe; and re-birth all seen within a cold, foreboding light.  Viewers often read the monoliths as signposts of our discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Shortly after the film’s release, however, Kubrick told a New York Times reporter that it’s more a matter of the other beings discovering us.”

I like that this film raises important questions. The debate your piece awoke in many of your readers Phil, speaks to the spark this film has. Even though we may disagree – I salute you.

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