Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Prometheus a science fiction film by director Ridley Scott that serves as a prequel to the his 1979 film “Alien”. While the premise is similar to the original Alien film, as we follow a crew of space explorers and their journeys on a remote planet, Prometheus reveals a different purpose. unlike the original Alien, which was a movie made in the midst of the cold war and capitalizes on the fear of the unknown, Prometheus is a new story that distances itself from the original conceptually with a much more articulated vision of the Alien planet. The film devotes much of its beginning treating the audience with intimate details of the alien race, unveiling the shroud of the unknown through sweeping flybys on the surfaces of the alien planet. As the character in prometheus struggles to advance with their goals on this alien planet. We are presented with what might be Ridley Scott’s nuanced political commentary. If the original Alien movie was a warning on the dangers of the unknown, then Prometheus is then demonstrating the need for restraint in the pursuit of knowledge.
To understand the political underpinning of Prometheus. One can begin by first examining the title of the Movie. In Greek myth, Prometheus was a character who was punished by the gods for the act of providing men with the secrets to fire. He is by definition in modern literature figure who represented human striving, particularly the quest for scientific knowledge, and the risk of overreaching or unintended consequences. In particular, he was regarded in the Romantic era as embodying the lone genius whose efforts to improve human existence could also result in tragedy. There are two questions in Prometheus that serves as the indicators of similar fate suffered by the characters in the movie. They were “what is the origin of mankind” and “why does our creator want to kill us”. In the Movie, Prometheus was the name of the ship in which the characters uses to search for answers. It can be said that their discovery of the secret of the origins to mankind and their subsequent death is parallel to the same fate suffered by Prometheus from greek myth. If one breaks the title “Prometheus” down further, the same the same condition can be drawn to the current U.S political atmosphere. Prome-The-US is perhaps the most obvious dissection to the title, As Prome suggestion passive exercise in range of movement, while The US merely suggest the entity that has such characteristics. Prome-The-US. is perhaps a hidden message that highlights the U.S tendencies to insert itself into strategic positions to ensure future energy stability (fire), and the consequences that comes as a result.
While it’s easy to dismiss Prome-The-US as mere coincidental in its suggestion, there are other more visually evocative elements in the movie that suggests a more acute connection between the fate of prometheus’ crew and U.S international politics. To begin, one only needs to look at the characters themselves. David the humanoid, when not suited up to explore the alien planet with the rest of the human crew, actually wears an typical communist mao suit. He calls the human members of the mission his Mom and Dad and is described as “without a soul”. He is the facilitator of the mission and actually speaks the language of the alien race. David’s role in the movie is complex as he is both part of the crew on a mission and an the cause of their demise. He is both supportive of the crew’s in their goals and unsympathetic to the safety in the process. When put in context of current world politics, David’s character can be easily described as that of China. He represents the rigid communist regime that is devoid of religion and clearly wants to grow its powers by following the path of the U.S. Like David, China’s role in respective to the U.S is equally as complex. As China both tries to find common ground via commercial trade, while countering the U.S and its involvement in other countries.
If the crew of Prometheus was destined to perish because their curiosity and lack of restraint in the pursuit of knowledge, we also observe that the opposite is also true. By following the only human survivor (Elizabeth) of the movie in prometheus, one can make a distinction between her and the rest of the crew. She is the only one who valued human lives above the goal of the mission. By doing so, she separates herself from the crew of Prometheus by exercising restraint on the mission in the belief that it would save the rest of Mankind.
This however leads to the question to why David survives, as he was actually the first one that learns of the secrets to the origin of mankind. It could be said that David too exercised restraint only because it is in his nature to do so, as he is a robot. However, if one pays attention to his conversation with Charlie, learned that he is already knows his creator are Mankind. This is interesting interpretation in context of U.S and China. As it both suggests that United States must exercises restraint in its political assertion in the world while at the same time suggesting it is perhaps that China political climate is culturally programmed not to become too involved in the first place.