Prometheus-by-Minute Episode 08

Another Prometheus by Minute episode by Courtney Coulson a.k.a @traviandesigns

Travian Designs

card8In which I discuss what the Engineers meant by those “invitations”, wonder what the hell a Zeta 2 Reticuli is and delve into an unused scene from the Spaight’s script.

Footnotes

Warren Field calendar

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-23286928

Quiet Eye promo

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Fan Creatives Podcast: Mr H Reviews

 

I got in touch with the mysterious Mr H on twitter and asked him if he’d like to be a part of our Fan Creatives series, and of course, he said yes. I hadn’t really planned to interview him so randomly, I just decided to get in touch with him after a live stream and he happened to be free. So here’s us talking Alien, Scifi, Robots, his YouTube channel and much more! Beware of spoilers for Alien Awakening (Blomkamp) and The Predator upcoming movie.

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If you like any of his videos please like them and let him know in the comments either here or on YouTube. You can also support him on Patreon.

Here’s my favourite video of his, it also happens to be one of his popular ones. Thanks again for coming on to the Yutani Podcast, we look forward to having you on again in future!

 

 

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Paradise Lost & The Crossing

 

Featured Image: Illustration for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost“ (Adam watches as Eve sleeps) – Gustave Doré (1832-1883)

As David lays down Shaw to sleep there is a visual parallel to Adam watches as Eve sleeps. Since this is a story turned on its head where Satan is victorious the narrative will differ.

In Paradise Lost Satan disguises himself as a toad, he’s found whispering into the ear of Eve as she slept. Similarly, David is Android masquerading as something harmless, an android with his head ripped off. Whispering things to Elizabeth to gain her trust, “You are very kind at heart you know?”

Satan is found by a band of angels sent by Gabriel and order him to explain his reasons for intruding on Paradise. In similar fashion, David is found by the Covenant crew and he explains how he came to be on Planet 4/Paradise.

At first, Satan pretends he is innocent, and the angels can’t prove he meant any harm. Much like David, he lies about the pathogen deploying and that Elizabeth dying in the crash. The crew can’t prove he is lying to them. Then like Satan, the shapeshifter. Takes on an innocent guise to intrude on the USCSS Covenant, Walter.

Though Gabriel knows he is lying to them, threatens to drag him back to Hell. David has everyone fooled except for Walter, but it’s too late.

Just as Satan prepares to fight him, a pair of golden scales appear in the sky as a sign from heaven that Satan cannot win, and he flees. Unfortunately for Walter, there is no such sign.

A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery in Prometheus

A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery, Joseph Wright of Derby (oil on canvas, 1766)

 

A key idea of the Age of Enlightenment—that empirical observation grounded in science and reason could best advance society—is expressed by the faces of the individuals in Joseph Wright of Derby’s A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery.

David in this scene takes on the childlike wonder similarly depicted by the two young boys in the painting and of the young woman staring unblinkingly at the Earth floating near its centre.

In the painting  A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery and in our solar system it’s the sun that takes centre stage. In Prometheus, its the Winged Sun that symbolises aspects of the Egyptian sun god. From roughly 2000 BC, the symbol also appears in the Levant and Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. It appears in reliefs with Assyrian rulers and in Hieroglyphic Anatolian as a symbol for royalty, transcribed into Latin as SOL SUUS (literally, “his own self, the Sun”, i.e., “His Majesty”). David is in the centre of the Orrery, Weyland’s son, next in line for Weyland Industries(given Vickers demise).

Wright’s painting captures a moment of Enlightenment, the philosophical shift in the 18th Century away from traditional religious beliefs of the universe and toward verifiable by observations and scientific approach. *It is important to note the term given this new way of thinking. “Enlightenment” indicates an active process, undertaken by an individual by a group.

Joseph Wright of Derby became the unofficial artist of the Enlightenment, his use of chiaroscuro (contrast between light and dark) depicting scientists and philosophers in ways previously reserved for Biblical heroes and Greek gods.

Which is quite interesting given the fact David is the Biblical Anti-Hero as he is both Satan and the Titan Prometheus. *A false equivelancy is given to the role of David and Prometheus since he does not steal the fire/black ooze to benefit mankind but to destroy it.

Other than Thomas Gainsborough (One of his art pieces is also present in Prometheus Transmission), who spent much of his career in the high-society resort town of Bath, Wright was the most prominent English painter of the 18th Century to spend the majority of his career outside of London. Operating without the constraints of the mainstream London art world, Wright was free to explore a general interest in science with his friends, a group that included Erasmus Darwin (Grandfather of Charles Darwin) and other members of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, an informal learned society which met to discuss scientific topics of the day.

In the 1760s Wright began to explore the traditional boundaries of various genres of painting. According to the French academies of art, the highest genre of painting was history painting, which depicted Biblical or classical subjects to demonstrate a moral lesson.

David and Shaw’s mission is both a pursuit of knowledge, you could argue David’s is rooted in science and Shaw’s is rooted in Faith.

David, as he experiences the projection, comes to an epiphany when he notices the sarcophagus the Engineer is sleeping in and goes to notify Sir Peter Weyland. After his ordeals on LV223 his conversion to science is a conversion to creator.

Prometheus was filmed in 3D, arguably the orrery scene is one of the most striking scene in the entire movie, as a homage to this Philisophical painting it is a masterpiece of the Alien series.

 

Ash and David, beguiled by purity

Ripley: Ash, can you hear me? [slams her hands down on the table]

Ripley: Ash?

Ash: [awakens and starts speaking in an electronic and distorted voice] Yes, I can hear you.

Ripley: What was your special order?

Ash: You read it. I thought it was clear.

Ripley: What was it?

Ash: Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded.

Parker: The damn company. What about our lives, you son of a bitch?

Ash: I repeat, all other priorities are rescinded.

Ripley: How do we kill it, Ash? There’s gotta be a way of killing it. How? How do we do it?

Ash: You can’t.

Parker: That’s bullshit.

Ash: You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.

Lambert: You admire it.

Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.

Parker: Look, I am… I’ve heard enough of this, and I’m asking you to pull the plug. [Ripley goes to disconnect Ash, who interrupts]

Ash: Last word.

Ripley: What?

Ash: I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.

The admiration Ash has for the Xenomorph is the same that David has for his romantic hero T.E Lawrence.

In the beginning, Lawrence was an island, out of place in the army because he was an educated man. People did not see him as their equal, much like David. His intelligence set him apart from the rest and they often mocked him for showing it off.

“You know, Burke, I don’t know which species is worse. You don’t see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.” – Lt Ellen Ripley, Aliens 1986

Both had to prove their worth by travelling through the desert, and through those trials and tribulations, their beliefs were challenged. In the beginning, Lawrence denounces the murder of his guide and boldly says he would not be friends with a killer, by the end of the movie he was responsible for more than one death directly and lead an army to slaughter many in the name of revenge, doesn’t that sound familiar?

David’s revenge against the Engineers and his judgement of them leaves a trail of destruction. As does his reverse engineered creation, the Xenomorph (I have drawn similarities to in my analysis of the Punishment of Thieves – The Crossing Part VI ). The Xenomorph lifecycle makes a killer out of their friends, the unwitting host. An alien emerges from their comrades and consumes them with violent delight.

David and Lawrence are altered by their experience and observation of mankind and ultimately both of them viewed the human race and as greedy, violent and cruel, just as the Gods did in Das Rheingold.

image

Lawrence and David are survivors who are unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. They kill their friend and guide, they kill their adoptive ‘children’, they go against any morals to achieve their ultimate goal and will stop at nothing to get the task done.

But for Lawrence his suffering is palpable, he sheds more than a solitary tear when he has to do these awful things, and in all of it, he thinks he is doing the right thing by the Arab people. David, in this case, is different, although we learn he can indeed feel it’s a credit of his programming in which Sir Peter Weyland has allowed him free will, his agency becomes the driving force in his journey from created to the creator. He is aware that he has done unimaginably cruel things, although showing emotion he lacks a soul, a conscience by which a man could judge himself. He is aware that he is doing bad things but like Lawrence, he sees it as a necessity.

David becomes like the Xenomorph and Lawrence,  a survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. Because what they admire, they are also themselves.

image

Originally posted by e-ripley

Giger’s alien was a reflection of humanity’s darkness, the pure, primordial desires and impulses buried within the deepest pits of our inner selves. Looking at the harsh realities of war, we can see how easily humans succumb to their primal instincts. In the havoc and mayhem, we become animals, predators.

Throughout human history there have been countless travesties, many of them laced with a blatant disregard for human life, with destruction, pillaging, and violent rape, even necrophilia. The xenomorph is an animal, lacking the sentience to understand the destruction it causes.

We, as members of the human race, don’t have that excuse. We do have a conscience, we make judgements on morality. Yet we have committed the same heinous acts as the xenomorph— to each other, billions of times over. If we call the alien a monster because it does not have a choice in how it acts, does that mean that we are more loathsome than it because we understand the choices we make?  – Father of the Alien Xenomorph