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'Prometheus' Trailer: Philosophical Question

Prometheus Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott's Prometheus movie

Philosophical question: if God created the universe and all its creatures, did he also create the title character in Ridley Scott's 1979 horror classic Alien? If so, then for what purpose? To make Sigourney Weaver a star?

“How far would you go to get your answers? What would you be willing to do?” inquires Michael Fassbender's David The Android in the British trailer (please scroll down) of Scott's Alien sort-of prequel Prometheus.

Although I don't think David is referring to Sigourney Weaver's stardom, the answer to that particular question seems to be … hop on a huge spaceship and travel to a distant, dark planet where things may not be quite as they seem. Hint: That's the place where Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton, and Yaphet Kotto encountered the remains of several gigantic beings in addition to the deadly fetus of a ravenous cockroach-like monstrous creature.

Looking at the trailer, we at Alt Film Guide were reminded of other films, e.g., Neill Blomkamp's District 9 (the crashing spaceship), Tobe Hooper / Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist (Logan Marshall-Green's bleeding eye while he stares in the mirror), Paul W.S. Anderson's Event Horizon (the otherworldly enemy destroying from within), Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (Fassbender's android: where does the robot end and the human being begin?), Fred M. Wilcox's Forbidden Planet (humankind as the perpetrator of its own destruction after unleashing forces it can't control), and, inevitably, Scott's Alien (Noomi Rapace in her underwear, much like Weaver's Ripley; Fassbender's is-he-to-be-trusted android, much like Ian Holm's Ash).

Anyhow, being derivative isn't necessarily a problem. After all, just about every work of art features elements borrowed from other works. What matters is that, unlike the all-action no-brain teasers, this Prometheus trailer makes Scott's film look promising – less because of its special effects (however impressive) and more because of its philosophical (almost theological) premise: Where do human beings come from? Will our search for knowledge lead to our eventual destruction?

And we're back to Forbidden Planet territory, which, by the way, uses elements found in another work of art, Shakespeare's The Tempest, which itself borrowed from Greek mythology.

The tale of Prometheus, I should add, is to a certain extent the Greek equivalent of the Biblical myth of the Fall of Man: he was the Titan who stole fire from the gods to give it (back) to humankind. Like the Serpent, Adam, Eve, and (apparently) the characters in Scott's upcoming film, Prometheus was brutally punished. Try imagining having an eagle chew on your liver for all eternity.

Prometheus opens June 8. Ridley Scott directed from a screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. In the Prometheus cast: Shame / Jane Eyre's Michael Fassbender, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows' Noomi Rapace, Snow White and the Huntsman / Monster's Charlize Theron, Mildred Pierce / L.A. Confidential's Guy Pearce, Across the Universe / Devil's Logan Marshall-Green, Thor / Luther's Idris Elba, The Borgias / Harry Brown's Sean Harris, Anonymous / Behind the Door's Rafe Spall, Somers Town / Red Road's Kate Dickie, and Evening / Little Children's Patrick Wilson.

Prometheus photo: Kerry Brown / 20th Century Fox.

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2 Comments to 'Prometheus' Trailer: Philosophical Question

  1. Andre

    Thanks for writing and point well taken…

    … But “cave paintings from France” aren't exactly the products of “civilization” — unless cavemen and women who lived 20,000 to 35,000 years ago can be considered civilized. (No putdown intended here; they did have a form of social system or “civilization,” of course, but not in the way we usually apply the term today.) Also, the Mesopotamians, Aztecs — and the cavemen — lived in various historical periods separated by millennia. In other words, those “aliens” had been visiting the Earth for tens of thousands of years. Long enough to quite possibly *predate* human beings as a species.

    I haven't read the PROMETHEUS screenplay, but I think it's fair to wonder if Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, and pals have gone in search of the origins of “modern humans” — not only in terms of technological development, but also in terms of physiological development. On that dark planet, after all, *someone* erected a gigantic human-like statue. Who could have put that there but humans, or, at least, humanoids — our potential ancestors?

    I guess we'll find out next June…

  2. Patrick

    It's not going to ask, let alone answer, where human beings as a species come from. We've already got an answer for that - evolution.

    The interjection of a possible alien species will be in the context of the rapid development of civilisation. “Where do we come from” in terms of society - what makes us stand out from the other animals.

    Note the trailer - “images from ancient civilisations” - and looking at those images you see groups of humans (so they're already there) surrounding a larger humanoid.