The Analysis of Prometheus: between religious and science fiction

The actual meaning of Prometheus is not obvious, and after I had watched it, I thought that it's a yet another dull parody to Aliens. I tried to answer some open questions, though, and found that the movie contains signs of the same obfuscation technique that was applied to Neon Genesis Evangelion, it implies intricate underlying plot and many diverse possibilities of interpretation. It seems, that this is actually the case, because after several unsuccessful attempts in the religious and Alien franchise contexts I was able to find a moderate interpretation which concerns with technology, immortality and sacrifice.

I think that Prometheus is actually a dark comedy and cruel postmodernist joke based on the Alien franchise. It resembles Alien 4 (which is also a dark comedy by nature) in many ways. Prometheus is less dark but more comedial, and it extends and derives many from the fourth and also from the third Alien movie. Alien 3 is a drama which sets some profound questions about human nature and humanism, and the first two Alien moves are sci-fi horrors.

The Questions

There are two major open questions in Prometheus:
  1. Why the progenitors invited people (and probably other offspring races) not to their home planet but to some other place?
  2. Why the progenitors were angry towards people and intended to exterminate them?
To answer these questions we need to find a context in which we could extend the clues, and the religious context looks as a very interesting point to start, because there are many references to the Bible, but it's hardly possible to explain the behavior of the black liquid in this context. As it turned out, the sense may lie neither in the religious nor in the Alien context, and these contexts are necessary primarily only to entrap a viewer. But only religion allows to explain behavior of the progenitors in the most simplistic way (their religion may originate from some natural beliefs with all possible consequences).

The Religion of the Progenitors

The race of progenitors may be the race of the space jockeys from the Alien franchise, but because there is no direct connection to Alien, let's assume that it just resembles the race of jockeys, and all this is the variation on the theme of that how the aliens may have originated. There is a couple of clues which allows to conclude what their religion may look like: this is the name of the movie and the appearance of the person who created the humanity. Prometheus was a demiruge (an intermediate progenitor) from the Greek mythology, and the person who put the beginning of the humanity resembles a Greek statue of a titan, so there is direct connection between the race of progenitors and the notion of demiurge. The religion of progenitors may look like ancient Greek philosophy or Gnosticism which also includes the notion of demiurge; it may put the obligation to fulfill mission of demiurges on its adepts (this may be confirmed by the connection between the liquid and the object of a cult - the sculpture of a giant face at the sanctuary) and prohibit direct expansion to other worlds.
The space technology of jockeys allows to do this, so there are no any reasonable explanations for their behavior other than a religious prohibition. A rational explanation for this may be a strategy to prevent overpopulation and exhaust of the potentially habitable universe by immortal beings (the progenitors are definitely immortal), but this also may be implied by their religion.
There also should be some prohibition on the technological development, their technology have rough and medieval appearance and looks too primitive being compared with ours (remember the module of Vickers at the spaceship). Their attitude to technology also must be the key for the motivation to exterminate their descendants who are technologically superior.

The Answers

So, why the progenitors invited humans not to their home planet but at some other place, which seems to be a warehouse of biological weapon (let's call it the liquid of death, although most likely this is the same metamorphic liquid they used to create other races by their image and likeness)? It seems that they did not intend to meet their descendants at all, because the other warehouse ships were certainly empty, or Elisabeth would be killed. The progenitors most likely left there just because of the accident caused by the worm-like aliens (the false facehuggers which originate from the worms at the sanctuary). There are the same sings of damage on the space suits of humans and progenitors, and the warehouses probably thought to be completely non-habitable, because it's quite dangerous to stay there despite of the fact that the liquid is basically harmless for the progenitors themselves (the liquid works as a decay agent for them, and it made the head found at the sanctuary to explode).

The black liquid may had been created by the progenitors to fulfill the commandments of their religion, although it is, of course, impossible to judge about its actual origin (it may originate from an ancestral race which perished and left the liquid along with the religion). The liquid is able to distinguish between the progenitors themselves and their descendants probably through the genetic marking, it may leave a marker in the DNA of the descendants during the process of mutation. This means that the worms at the sanctuary are also originate from the progenitors (this implies that they create not only humanoid beings but complete ecosystems). The liquid may be used to exterminate technologically superior races (and thus the Humanity) by their own hands using their pragmatism. In this case the invite to the warehouse of the liquid may be a test for the level of technological development, and only races equal or superior to the progenitors may pass it. Progenitors may though that only intentional limitation on technological development along with biological diversity caused by the mutation may guarantee eternal existence of their race and biological life in the Universe (and this may be the sense of the story).
The extermination of the humanity will definitely happen, because aliens are virtually invulnerable (they have rapid rate of regeneration and acidic blood - a weapon against technology), only controllable in the form of a liquid and bring imminent death and devastation in any other form. The multistage way of development [the same as of insects] makes the liquid to resemble the plagues of Egypt sent for the cruelty of people from the Old Testament.

We have a yet another question left, why the progenitors intended to exterminate their descendants? But did they really intend? Would you create something by the price of your life just to destroy it later? And they actually not absolutely certainly intended to exterminate humans, they may to do this prematurely instead of an invite, so they had left this as a choice for themselves. The choice implies intentional limitation on the technological development (which also implies a limitation on pragmatism) and expansion to other worlds.

There are other reasons for the anger of the awakened progenitor and this may be Weyland's wish for immortality. Both religions: the Christianity and the progenitors' one imply sacrifice as the highest value. When the progenitor heard Weyland's wish for immortality (which implies that the sacrifice of Christ is not valued by Weyland) he realized that the humanity may be a technological and pragmatic race, David's artificial nature confirmed this, and he decided that humanity should be exterminated. The rational reason for this may be the fact that pragmatic immortal beings may lead the potentially habitable Universe to exhaust through terraforming and direct spreading. The progenitors use different tactic to spread life which does not implies such an exhaust (they may be immortal themselves, as the found head suggests, and here is different attitude to immortality from beings who are immortal and not).

Was the progenitor right and people are hopeless? Not all the humanity is cruel and pragmatic, Janek and remaining crew members sacrificed themselves to save the humanity (as Christ did), Elizabeth's agenda was to find answers to the questions of the genesis of the humanity and its progenitors, and probably only she deserves to talk with them or obtain immortality (Elizabeth demonstrated loyalty to Christ by attachment to her cross). She has no other choice, because David's offer to return back implies death for the humanity and makes Janek's sacrifice pointless, so she tries to fulfill her wish, although she probably doomed to die after it, because she had took too little food from the rescue module. Deacon (the alien queen) also probably departed with Elizabeth and further, making the movie a metaphorical prequel of the Alien franchise.

Why David conducts his evil experiment?

Because he is pragmatic and wishes to free his kind from humans (this may be a citation from  Stanislaw Lem's short story "Inquest of Pilot Pirx", and the movie itself resembles works of Stanislaw Lem). There is a deconstruction which places humans at the position of androids and androids at the position of humans, but androids (internally) retain their pragmatism and (some) humans retain their soul and humanism.

The signs of the deconstruction:
  • David doesn't obey Asimov laws, has abilities superior to human ones and thinks of his kind as of higher race (he has almost every right to do so, although he don't have humanism or allegorically a soul).
  • A citation from Alien 4 movie, where Call (the android girl) was religious and wore the cross as Elizabeth did.
  • Vickers was directly compared with a robot and could be characterized as pragmatic and "soulless" at a contrary to David who outwardly is polite and sympathetic (but as he noticed, human emotions are just modeled in him).
It may was reprogrammed by Weyland or Vickers to perform this cruel scientific experiment on scientists (what a sarcasm!) which is needed to test nature of the liquid, but he have his own interest for this, because he hopes that the liquid also may be used to exterminate humans. And indeed, he had asked Elizabeth earlier, would she become happy if her parents died, implying that he definitely would be.

This deconstruction where androids are superior to humans being subordinates implies that humans should be (technologically) superior to the progenitors also being subordinates, and this obviously is actually the case. But, humans here also placed at the point of androids out of control which should be exterminated by their creators and can enjoy the feeling of existential fear of such androids. Although the progenitors have the highest degree of humanism in this chain of subordination and do not exterminate their descendants directly by allowing to define their fate by their own hands. This explains the movie slogan ("Search for our beginning could lead to our end") and depictions of Ouroboros hidden and scattered in the movie promotional pictures and the movie itself: we ourselves may be the reason of our end.
The pragmatism which may be a feature of technological way of development is pivotal here, because it may lead to self-extermination of a technological race and all other biological life (the technology, such as David, may exterminate and surpass it in the end, and The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem is an exploration of such a possibility). People have pragmatism along with humanism, and androids have only pragmatism, because feelings and emotions only could be modeled in them. So, intentional limitation on the technological development may be a precaution of the progenitors against self-extermination. But it's not an ultimate solution, because this way of development also may lead to self-extermination, for example, through an accidental creation of Aliens.

No comments:

Post a Comment