I enjoyed Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) which is about the mother cycle of creation, life and death, so I looked forward to Prometheus, (Ridley Scott, 2012) – hailed as its prequel. Simple story: after dis-covering similar star maps in cave paintings and art in several ancient Earth civilisations, scientists search for the origin of humanity on a distant Earth-like planet – and Prometheus was the culture hero in Greek mythology who was credited with creating mankind (from clay) and the theft of fire for human use that enabled progress and civilisation – hence the title.
Visually spectacular and filmed in craggy Iceland, there’s a lot of intertextuality; not only H R Giger’s creatures from the 1979 original but also national monuments such as the Crazy Horse Memorial Statue in S Dakota and the Statue of Liberty, the Cambrian era, the art of William Blake, J M W Turner and Joseph Wright, Lawrence of Arabia and much more. Importantly, it reflects the increasing secularisation in present times in the West (slogan, ‘We are the Gods now’). It was, on the whole, quite well received and, like all good films, it leaves you with some unanswered questions.
But not all of these are of the metaphysical kind – some critics have been left wondering:
How is it that scientists (two!) are on a quest for extra-terrestrial life based on really flimsy evidence in a trillion dollar spaceship manned by the worst crew ever to go into space led by a lazy captain who leaves his crew to die?
How can a geologist with state of the art computerised 3D maps, radio communication and GPS (where’s the satellite?) can still manage to get lost? And why is an inconsistent biologist afraid of a 2000 year old corpse but wants to touch an obviously dangerous alien snake?
And how is it, that when the women in the film are in danger from falling objects they can only run in straight lines along the line of trajectory and not to one side?
There are two heroes. One man, wishing to fulfil a lifelong ambition of finding aliens, somehow feels a failure after investigating for only six hours – and one woman who ‘gets herself pregnant’, creates life, has a hurried emergency Caesarean section and is stapled together again – by a robot. All of which would hurt just standing still but not it seems when jumping or abseiling. But then she is Noomi Rapace from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Neils Arden Oplev, 2009) who’s been through a lot lately.
It’s an epic quest that has no answers or payoff to anything; in the words of one critic “…they went looking for a prequel and what they found was a bald albino”. But I still enjoyed it.