The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Floundering in the Wake of Prometheus

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It’s been twelve days since I saw Prometheus for the first time, and nine days since I saw it the second time.  I’ve tried to sit down several times since then to blog about it, but I can’t fully get my head around the whole thing.

One problem with me processing my thinking about the film is the series of seemingly unrelated events in my life the week before I initially saw it.  Scott Walker defeated the recall election targetted at removing him as Governor of Wisconsin.  A few days later, I made my second visit to Miller Park and watched the Brewers scrabble out an extra-innings win (and I wore a pro-union shirt while I was there).  Then I twice set a pair of 3D glasses on my nose and settled in to see Prometheus.  Walking out of the film, I was certain all four events were somehow woven together.  It was easier to think that than to delineate the thoughts, though, and that kept me from getting my thoughts out here.  That is not to say that I have given up on trying to find the through-line between all the events, it’s just to say that it’s time I sat down and wrote something about Prometheus so as not to drop something I started and be an irresponsible blogger.

So here I am, twelve days later, still struggling to piece together all I saw twice now in Prometheus.

First of all, it’s not a perfect film.  It is technically excellent.  There are parts of it that are spectacular, and other parts that are as equally horrifying and cringe-inducing.  There seems to be a perfect blend of those two extremes, though, and that was expected.  What does not stand up as well, though, is the plot.  There are a number of holes, and some of them are significant.  Certain characters have knowledge they shouldn’t logically have (with no explanation), and some characters act on unplausible motivations.  I wonder if these things are a function of editing and if some deleted scenes that might be issued with the DVD will fill the cracks in the plot.  I hope so.   That being said, though, plot is always the most difficult part of a story and falling down in a few places is a forgivable sin, though Prometheus stretches the limits of my forgivability.  Another thing is that this may be a by-product of having to go back in time in the universe of the film and account for things that already happened in Alien and the subsequent films while still adding something to the canon.  The producers of The Thing last year were faced with a similar situation last year, so maybe what we’re seeing is one of the unavoidable pitfalls of extending a film universe by creating a prequel.  But Hollywood won’t ever leave well enough alone, will it?

What has left my head spinning is how Blade Runner became such a integral part of Prometheus.  It was given that Alien was going to be a part of things, but the philosophical and existential questions at the center of Blade Runner became huge factors about two-thirds of the way through Prometheus.  Suddenly, there was a deep-thinking space / horror epic in our laps, and it was something that elevated the film.  The motivation for the characters quickly becomes meeting our makers.  When faced with The Engineers who created life on Earth, man realizes that those same engineers have created additional life designed to destroy us.  But why?  What’s so bad about humankind that we need to be destroyed?  The answer seemed simple to me:  We are the most destructive force in the universe because we eventually destroy everything we touch.  And Prometheus is but the most recent piece of media that hinges on that thought and a method to wipe out man.  That thought goes all the way back to The Bible, and is a significant part of other world mythologies.

In fact, without showcasing man’s penchant to destroy, Prometheus wouldn’t go anywhere.  The characters tamper with things (or in one case, an android is programmed to do so).  They disrupt a controlled (and safe)environment, and, predictably, the whole horror snowball starts rolling downhill until it’s so huge and thunderous that it can’t be stopped.  Pack a healthy dose of corporate greed into the mix (the Alien films have their basis in unchecked corporate greed), and there is some insightful commentary being made.  And then, Bingo!  Ridley Scott has fulfilled the most important function of well-made science fiction, which is to make the important statements about the human condition that need to be made.

To me, what it came down to was this:  Man’s greed, thirst for power, and capacity to destroy is a hard-wired aspect of our essence.  Therein is the reason why Scott Walker was one of the first things that came to mind as the film came to a close and the credits rolled.  Where does baseball fit into all of this?  Dunno, other than to say that I guess not everything leads back to that.

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Written by seeker70

June 22, 2012 at 10:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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