The movie, ‘Prometheus’, sees Michael Fassbender portraying an android called David. He iconically declares that ‘Great things have small beginnings’, as he examines the tiny embryonic form of the active component of an alien biological weapon. This is both a reference to the creation of the aliens, as well as a nod to the origin of man. What Prometheus achieves, which sets it aside from the Alien films, is to ask questions about the beginnings of human-kind.
Having been hyped up, having watched, and having read and seen several reviews of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror thriller, I feel that there is little space for yet another review of the film. Despite numerous plot-holes, it’s one of the most exciting and thought-provoking big budget science fiction films of all time. Rather than add myself to the crew of the pregnant cruise ship full of Prometheus reviews, I thought I’d commission a dainty schooner and take a more elegant and cerebral direction.
Red Letter’s video review already covers many of the inconsistencies of the movie, in an unbeatably amusing way.
And The Wertzone blog provides a seemingly well researched article on the background and events of the film.
Take care not to read on should you wish to avoid SPOILERS.
The Jesus Thing
The film introduces the viewer to a new species of alien life-form known as the Engineers. The discussion groups on www.prometheus-movie.com suggest the notion that since the Engineers last visited Earth two thousand years ago, that this could have been in the form of Jesus. Here’s where I’m going to shoot down that theory. According to the totally true and subjective fountain of knowledge that is wikipedia (link), Homo Sapiens has existed for around 200,000 years. With Jesus (purportedly) only coming into existence two thousand years ago, that means that Jesus and the Christian faith only represent the most recent 1% of the time that human beings have been on the planet. That kind of makes the whole concept of Jesus and the faith based on his life relatively insignificant to the bigger picture. Basically, Jesus only happened five minutes ago, and yet society puts him at the root of everything. We can’t find any credence on Jesus being connected to God and the origins of man so much as we could deduce that an apple is mainly made of green matter, simply because its skin is that colour.
There is another more direct reference to Jesus in the movie, in that Noomi Rapace’s character mentions in passing the notion that she is infertile. After her partner unknowingly impregnates her with what turns out to be an alien embryo, which hints at the idea of a virgin birth. Personally, I’d be keen on Scott not going down the whole Jesus root, as it would be far too annoying!
Back To The Engineers…
So the film basically suggests, from the opening scene, that the Engineers, through the appearance of a ‘sacrificial visitor’, came to plant genetic matter on Earth, which may or may not have resulted in the start of life on Earth, and ultimately, the birth of mankind. Not a significantly different notion to the one that Douglas Adams put forward in his Doctor Who script, ‘City Of Death’, and his book, ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ (see the mention in my previous blog), in which an alien crashing into the planet causes a chain reaction that results in the beginning of life. What does seem strange about the Engineers hand in providing the DNA stock to which the human race ultimately evolve is that despite all the permutations that evolution could have taken us, and the variety of sub species that existed and ceased to exist, somehow, Homo Sapiens came to have the same DNA structure as the Engineers. Human beings reached their current state of evolution in response to environmental changes over millions of years. So the only way the Engineers could rely on the formation of humankind would be to have had direct control over Earth’s environment in order to shape our evolution. If this is the direction that Scott is going to take us down, we could have some fascinating movies ahead of us as we experience more moments in the Prometheus franchise.
The Dawn Of Man
The other famous example of mankind’s beginnings was in the ‘Dawn of Man’ scene at the beginning of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
The notion that extra-terrestrial life-forms may have had a hand in evolution, rather than human-kind being an experiment in evolution seems rather more credible. Arthur C Clarke’s work hits a feasible note here. It’s hard to explain how life got kick-started in the first place, and what happened when a bunch of particles began reacting and organising in a way that would eventually represent what we understand of as life. But with the ultimate origin of life as a given, Clarke’s idea that extra-terrestrial intervention may have been responsible for sudden changes in the course of our development is quite an exciting one.