Cavalorn (cavalorn) wrote,

Okay, time to say a few more words about Prometheus

Quite a few of you have responded to my scribble about Prometheus, which have now shown up on Reddit and IMDB and Blastr and similar havens of earnest discussion. Prometheus scriptwriter Damon Lindelof has also linked to it from Twitter and added 'I love the way you think', which was very nice of him. There are way too many comments to address individually, so I've collated some of the typical responses.

"I enjoyed the movie a lot more because of this article."

Glad to hear it, and thanks for saying so!

"Dude, you're really overthinking this."

All too likely, I'm afraid. But can I remind you that this is Ridley Scott we're dealing with here? He deliberately includes heavily symbolic stuff in his films that doesn't respond easily to a straightforward interpretation. Yes, a film needs to work on the tell-a-good-story level too, and we'll get back to that, but when a director's work can be dug into deeply, then I think it's worth doing.

But there's a caveat: it's only worth doing if you enjoy that kind of exercise purely for the sake of it, which I do. If you start thinking that your mental wankery is authoritative, or says anything final or absolute about a film/book/whatever, then I'm afraid you're being a bit of a bell end.

"This guy explains everything! HA HA SUCK IT HATERS THIS FILM RULES!"

Dude, I'm a random English children's writer who put some stuff up on Livejournal. LIVEJOURNAL. A social network about as cutting edge as a flint axe. I'm pleased that you enjoyed my babble and got something out of it, but please, please don't use it to hit other people over the head with. There is no such thing as a definitive opinion about Prometheus.

"All the symbolism in the world won't make up for stupid characters."

Well, quite. Here was my initial reaction to seeing the movie. Note the timestamp.

"I liked your article but I didn't agree with all of it."

By far the most common response, this. It's very heartening. There were two main motives to writing it: a) identify possible symbolic references and b) speculate about their meaning. And those form two different arguments. Do I think the symbolism is there? Yes. Do I think my take on it is definitive? Absolutely not.

"You were wrong about the mural of the Engineer. His abdomen isn't ripped open."

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to point this out, including Peter Briggs, author of the original screenplay for Alien vs Predator. In the images I was looking at, the 'tear' seemed very clear and apparent, but if you look at the shots from another angle, it's obvious it's not present in other images.

EDIT: Many thanks to James Wheeler, who says this:

Possible explanation for this is that the image without the torn abdomen is a behind the scenes shot of the mural without any VFX laid over it, whereas the images that do show the tear are stills from the actual movie, plus VFX. As John Nor pointed out to me, the murals do change over the course of the film. I do need to see it again to make quite sure, though.

Also, as a little bonus, this concept art of the Sacrifice Engineer not only shows a rent appearing in his side, but has little arrows pointing to it.

"This film SUCKS!"

The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it sucks.

EDIT TO ADD AN AFTERWORD BELOW THE ORIGINAL LAST LINE: There's a reason why I haven't been arguing in defence of the article, neither here nor on Reddit nor anywhere else, and it's simply this: I am perfectly happy to be proven wrong. If hard evidence comes to light that definitively disproves any of it, then great! I'll modify my thoughts accordingly (which, you will see, I was attempting to do above regarding the Engineer mural).

Because, he said rather pompously, that's what you DO. If the evidence doesn't fit your theory, you change your theory. Even if it was a cool theory, and even if it explained things in a way you liked. You shrug and you smile and you move on. Because not doing that makes you, at best, a bell end (and at worst, a fanatic).

Not bored yet? There's more stuff here...
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Re the final comment.
It seems that is the trick for life - for some of us its hard to pull of. Oh well.
The last line is the best. Thank you.
While I like the film, I haven't been able to really put my finger on concrete reasons. Your article has done just that. And you're absolutely correct about Ridley movies having more than what's on the surface. After all, Blade Runner is actually a really boring anti climactic detective story, if you were completely blind to all the visuals and heady thoughts being asked of you.

I also figure any movie that sticks in your craw for more time than it takes for you to walk to the parking lot, and especially one like this that I've been thinking about non stop for 3 days, good or bad, that makes it all right in my book.

I still don't like the Alien coming out of the Engineer though. Blatant fan (dis)service.


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If your prose wasn't overly pretentious....I might have considered your points. That being said....the deeper meaning in a film is completely irrelevant when the film itself is an utter failure such as this. Failure in pacing, failure in acting, failure in character development, failure in writing and failure in editing.

One can find hidden meaning in many of our generations refuse film-making. Yes the Armageddons, Independence days, Battleships, and 2012's of the past few decades all had a deeper meaning about our existence buried somewhere inside their respective horrific prose.....but that does not change the face that the film making displayed in each was hackneyed.

This movie is a failure....its ambitious theme is utterly irrelevant. It took shortcuts! It had plot holes! It had no motivations for any of its characters! It was poorly acted in various spots. All those things add up to a poor film. The fact that it was an Alien prequel by Ridley Scott....makes it and AWFUL film!
I agree with everything you said, except about his prose. He's a good writer. He makes strong points.

Jessica Prentiss

6 years ago


6 years ago

Really didn't mean to insult your prose. I may be a bit jealous that I do not have a talent for writing.
Huh, no wonder Lindelof appreciates your fanboy even he knows what the movie "really means".

You and Ridley Scott do have in common that you're both pretentious, intellectual narcissists...the main difference is that you throw in a sprinkling of humble-pie in your work to not look as such...whereas Scott doesn't give a shit either way.

Though I don't actually argue with a lot of your analysis, it's the reverence you seem to give the "deeper layers" of the film and by proxy the director and the writing that created them.

Essentially, there's the shallow "sugar coating", which is really the only appreciable layer of the film....the great art direction, some decent acting and a few suspenseful or scary moments woven throughout. What's good about this film ends with the popcorn.

After that, you like most of its avid defenders (again, you throw in some minor critiques where it's impossible not to call "shit" where the smell is overwhelming) you insist that there's this delicious lair or wondrous metaphors, symbolism and deep but subtle philosophy. To that, I'll give you kudos in your attempt to dig deep into that second (or even 3rd layer) to pull out the little morsels of connectivity. But, the thing is, the other layers are possibly thinner than even the sugar coating. Christ, you say it yourself...the stupid Prometheus metaphor is shat out over and over and over. "See how goddamned clever we were....aliens burst out of chess when they're, destruction, life, of life...god--life-giver--taker....PUKE!"

There is not deeper philosophy in this movie. It's all fake, bullshit so that wankers like yourself can wank all over themselves finding meaning in the meaningless.
The whole Christmas-Jesus nonsense is *SO* *PROFOUNDLY* *RETARDED* that I'm surprised that even you...a relatively smart guy, didn't see past it. Even if the idea that sacrifice to bring life were an original Christian theme (pro-tip: it's not) it doesn't jibe with what actually happens in the film. Jesus was supposedly an emissary of the engineers? And the engineers supposedly share Christ's philosophy in sacrifice for the creation of life....but only when it's convenient for the film. Suddenly, when we need some sort of action-packed end-sequence and some more cheap imagery (ie. evil, unwanted baby saves mom)...then let's derail.

Hey, I get it, you want to sound really smart, and lots of people found meaning for this film through your I said above, I don't necessarily disagree with it..but mostly because arguing with speculation is like trying to churn butter with a rubber chicken.
What's fucking adorable about this is you think I'm a fanboy who's defending the movie.

Dan Harris Lovejoy

6 years ago


6 years ago

Christopher Nacinovich

6 years ago

"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it sucks." Nice. Touche!
Excellent analysis, and analysis of the whole point of analyzing. Can't believe I missed the Dr. Who references myself. Any additional thoughts on the potential parallels to Lovecraft?
Hey I didn't catch the Christ references at all until you mentioned them, because Prometheus was not a Biblical figure. Recalling the whole film though, the Captain was indeed lighting a Christmas tree at the beginning, and that Scott interview cinches that he was dealing with that general theme.

I couldn't figure out what the Engineers were so pissed about from anything in the plot, or how the Captain figured out their mission was to destroy humanity. A little more development there would have helped a great deal, like showing some 3-D holograms of Christ's Crucifixion, or some general historical montage of humanity's crappiness, like the aliens in "The Abyss" were so gracious to provide.

The Information Graphics in the flute-activated map room show Earth as a destination, all right. Unless the room is like a super-hyper-smart map room that knows which location in the universe the matter in David's body has come from, and it is showing him that instead. Are we all then assuming that it IS a bomber plane being sent to drop payloads of black goo? And are we sure that black goo does bad bad things to humans? Or, only bad bad things if you happen to be on LV226?

Marshall Rand Ellington

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Because, he said rather pompously, that's what you DO. If the evidence doesn't fit your theory, you change your theory. Even if it was a cool theory, and even if it explained things in a way you liked. You shrug and you smile and you move on. Because not doing that makes you, at best, a bell end (and at worst, a fanatic).

David: ...if your thesis is correct.
Holloway: If it's correct?
David: *smiling* That's why we call it a thesis...Doctor.
Thank-you, Cavalorn for giving me new ideas about Prometheus, especially the idea about the black liquid reacting to the
mental state and nature of the being that touches it. A couple questions, though:

1. I was expecting the Engineers to be more enlightened (not react so harshly to David). I walked away thinking the 2nd half
was a B-movie horror flick. Some more discussion on screen would have made a huge difference, don`t you think?
The black liquid seems like a time bomb for any advanced culture, but I suppose the Engineers were in pain and anger
2000 years ago.

2. I like the possibility of different factions within the Engineers. Is it possible instead that the Romanesque Engineer in the opening
scene was a ``Creator`` and the Engineers on the moon were ``Destroyers`` who fought against planet seeding, and were as Janek
proposed, building weapons that got out of control?


Engineer puts his hand on the head of David, lovingly there, for a minute. Isn't this quaint. Humans are the fleshy machines that we made, and we made them to look like us so that we would feel comfortable having them around, and look at this, look what they have done, THEY have gone and made another version of creature, and it ALSO appears humanoid, like us! This, this creature is, in a way, my grand-son! Too bad he is just a plastic toy. Just thinking about what other kinds of creatures HE might create if he gets too ambitious ... .... that makes my head hurt... ..... ...... better not let that happen, better rip off his head right now. And, that goes for the lot of you. Stop making copies of yourselves!


6 years ago

Don't knock flint axes. Flint STILL to this day carries one of the sharpest edges known to Man.
Since you found plentiful ways to tie the themes of the movie into religious/Christian references, I was curious if the name of the planet tied into anything (with the LV being Leviticus). There is no Leviticus 2:23, but Leviticus 22:3 says "Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the Lord, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the Lord."

I can kinda see it fitting.
Meredith Vickers ((note: no WEYLAND surname)) exclaims "He cut me off!"


6 years ago

And these are my comments, I'll put them here because I have an LJ from way back in the day, I get the feeling that this dude is not a Deletionist so my comment will stay in place here forever, and although AICN TalkBack would be another place to go, no, logically the True Prometheus thread must now pass through this very location, plus far fewer haters (bell-ends) to drown me out.

Note that the goo that what we'll call the "Sacrifice Engineer" drank was more GOLDEN than black. Or, Once golden, but now beginning to rot and turn black.

And by the time it gets into weaponized urns it's totally black. But maybe something redemptive will happen in Movie 2 or Movie 3 that can make the goo Golden again.

Make no mistake that there will be a Movie 2 and a Movie 3. It is too bad that Lemony Snicket only got one-shotted, not quite sure how that failed, yet they make seven plus two Harry Potter movies.

It's mindblowing to me how Ridley Scott's first trailer for ALIEN, as seen on the VHS videotape, is just a "Ha ha!" That's just a camera going over some poorly-baked brownies!", and now however many (23) years later, there's this 200 million dollar mega-marketed machine. Which was nevertheless beaten by computer-animated talking zoo animals, at the US Box Office.

I am a fan of a robot named "David" (A.I.) and a truth-seeking scientist nicknamed Ellie (Contact) as You Bet Your Ass It's Deliberate throwbacks to other great sci-fi movies.

I love Lindelof's admission that in making David a "Lawrence Of Arabia" fanboy, they get to borrow lots of excellent lines of dialogue for free. "Big things have small beginnings". Seek and find the MTV emails.

I wasn't quite clear on where David was sending his message of a little girl playing the violin was getting a "No Response Received". I guess directly at LV223, to say "We are Coming Over! Hello??"

Who says that holographic engineers were running FROM anything?

Why a big pile of engineers at door Two? Did they ever get to open that door?

David certainly makes a point of taking Dr. Elizabeth Shaw's cross off of her neck, and has it WITH HIM and ON HIS PERSON when he goes out to wake up the Angry Engineer. Could a robot develop faith in God? Do androids... .... nevermind.

The movie is "pop" enough to put asses in the seats and make people buy movie tickets, layered and deep enough to generate twenty thousand TalkBack comments and essays like cavalorn's. I hope next week the box office is more than Madagascar 3's. But the week after that is fresh PIXAR. After that Spider Man, and then Batman.

Thank you Team Prometheus!
The negative reactions to your Prometheus writing are like inverse apologia - people so attached to their dislike of the movie that they're outraged anyone would attribute any depth to its themes (or maybe just attribute it themes full stop). Never realising that it is possible to do so AND consider the film a failure!
Really enjoyed your reading of Prometheus. I love a little intellectual wankery. I will re-watch the movie soon with more of a critical eye.

I definitely think there's a whole conversation to be had about the feminist angle (or not) of this movie, as compared to the other Alien movies, which you hinted at.

Interesting... Makes me wish I was still a student so I'd have an excuse to write an assignment on it.
You can still write up an essay on it WITHOUT being a student, your excuse being, it is always important for you keep your writing chops in good shape, to write up your thoughts and add to the conversation!

Where are the female Engineers?

I guess they don't like to hang out near the weaponized black goo on LV223 (Leviticus 22:3).

Perhaps they will appear in Movies 2 and 3.

When Fifield aggressively yells in Noomi's face (about giant dead bodies), she holds her turf and stands her ground admirably and fearlessly, giving him the power-stink-eye which should have let him know "Your career has just ended, sir. Good luck with the rest of your life."
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