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Monday, November 26, 2012

Prometheus

I wrote my dissertation on Prometheus, specifically on the ways this Greek figure has been used in modern America. I finished a few years ago, so when the movie of that name came out earlier this year, I wasn't in a rush to see it. I watched it at home a few weeks ago.

I liked it. At first, I was a bit frustrated that so many things were left unexplained. After a few days, I began to like this more and more. I know that there's some plan for a sequel, but I won't get excited about that until it's released.

I find the idea behind the film compelling, with or without the ties to Alien. And by 'the idea', I'm referring to the ancient alien hypothesis--that a long time ago aliens came to earth and in some way either created humanity or at least tweaked life's evolutionary path toward us. It's part of the story of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and lurks in David Brin's Uplift Series. And not so long ago The 'History' Channel got a lot of mileage out of it. They started mainly from Erich Von Danniken's book The Chariots of the Gods, and the literature that sprouted in its wake. I wrote a bit about this in my article for Strange Horizons, Superman as Science Fiction.

Prometheus works pretty well as a set-up. I do hope the payoff is up to par. But what I liked about it most were the images and how they explored the themes of the plot. We've got a story about an expedition to the stars ostensibly undertaken to find our origins (and the twist that it's also about finding out how to live longer). It's about our birth as a species, and so it seems appropriate that the film's most potent image and most potent sequence reflect this. The sequence, the one most often praised and singled out, is the robotic c-section.



Yes, it's tough to watch, terrifying and electrifying. But think about it for a second. This is a movie about the relationship of a creator to its creation; it goes out of its way to point out that people not only create other people, but robots as well. Then, the robot David (Michael Fassbender) tries an experiment on a Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) by putting a drop of the black liquid in his drink (a strange analogy of insemination?), which results in a Shaw (Noomi Rapace) getting pregnant. Horrified, she gets a medical robot to remove the offspring from her body. Crazy stuff.

Then, the image: I think this was the most frequently used promotional image:


"Sometimes to create, one must first destroy."
David holding a hologram of the earth. It's interesting how this movie almost insists that light has weight. But most interesting is the fact that David, the robot who kinda sorta inseminated Shaw with the alien baby, has the whole world in his hands. And doesn't he say, at one point, "Doesn't everyone want their parents dead?"

Anyway, I'll close with one more image.



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