Prometheus: a Christmas Carol

[UNLOCKED] bonus 051 - 20th December, 2020

CJW: Happy holidays good people. We decided that with Christmas approaching we’d have a little fun with this bonus, and also send it out to everyone - partially to say thanks for sticking with us, and partially because I’ve got no idea how next week’s issue is going to look, it being Xmas and all.

If you've spent any amount of time on the internet in the past few years, then you are no doubt sick of hearing about how Die Hard is a Christmas movie (or you're one of the sickos still talking about it). Let's expand the narrative a little, shall we? Die Hard is a movie set around Christmas time, but herein I argue that Prometheus is a Christmas movie in both the secular and religious sense.

Thanks to David Lafuente for the prompt.

See, it’s text and subtext!

If you would like to join us on this journey, we're going deep into the Prometheus rabbit hole with a couple of preliminary teasers and then the theatrical cut. We’ve added screenshots and titles to help you keep up with us. Originally we were going to watch a fan cut, but then couldn’t find the one we wanted, and the only one we could find apparently removed some of the stupid dialogue. Where’s the fun in that?

MKY: So we’ll just do the fan cut ourselves then I guess. Or, fuck yeah the alternate opening scene for moar Engineerz…

MJW: Did you know that I am such a vague bitch that when I first watched Prometheus, I HAD NO IDEA IT WAS AN ALIEN MOVE UNTIL THE END, FUCK, I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M ADMITTING THIS


THE DISTANT PAST

MKY: Coz xmas is about ritual sacrifice after all.

CJW: Only the buffest of Engineers is worthy of the recombinant communion. He’s like the Rock of the Engineer race.

And just an aside, I really like the Prometheus theme.

THE NEAR FUTURE

CJW: Remember when the cult of TED was everywhere? I assume this was shot during that brief window, when it might not have been ridiculous to think that TED Talks would fill a stadium in just 3 years’ time.

ISLE OF SKYE, 2089

MKY: And we’re straight into the ancient aliens sending invitations to future humanity via cave art. Obvz. Or, I wonder if Ridley Scott read my old friend Gordon White’s book on extrademinsional entities aka ‘spirits’ fucking with us aka Star.Ships - which I had some thoughts on.

CJW: The cave paintings put me in mind of the Dark Forest Theory (of course, because I only recently read the Three-Body Problem trilogy), though in this case they obviously had little to worry about by inviting us into their dark forest.

THE CREW AWAKENING AFTER CRYO, 2093

MKY: David just hanging out the ship while all the humans are in cryo, learning ancient languages, watching old movies is srsly goals. Also, has a whole new vibe after lockdown life.

Enter Charlize:

Same energy:

There’s a fan theory about Theron’s char being trans… which only amplifies the shared energy there i guess?

MJW: Fifield: “I ain’t here to be your friend. I’m here to make money.”

Is he working in a brothel?

THE MISSION BRIEFING

MKY:

Shout-out to Weyland’s dog, who’s the only person I look at in this scene now. Kinda takes the edge of the materialist digs at David’s soulless existence.

CJW: Logan Marshall Green is fine, but there’s something about him/his face where I couldn’t tell you a single other thing I’ve seen him in. Benedict Wong on the other hand is consistently brilliant and has been in too many good sci-fi movies for that to be a coincidence, yet he’s underrated and probably underpaid due to Hollywood racism.

MJW: Benedict Wong is the best name. 

CJW: And now we see Chekhov’s, I mean Vickers’, personal escape ship with Chekhov’s automated medical pod.

ON APPROACH TO THE PLANET

MKY: we meet a wide variety of humans who we later get to watch die in a variety of ways.The reason I didn’t wanna watch that fan cut, after like actually looking into it lol, is that it tries to redeem to humans, editing out their biggest fails, and that misses the entire point of the film (and why most people hated it, because they were empathising with the human characters). None of the humans are worthy of meeting the Engineers, only David is. So Ridley had to make Alien: Covenant to ram the point home.

CJW: Good point. Alien had given the audience reason to expect they’d be rooting for the crew, but this movie is literally called Prometheus - it’s about humans going to piss on the face of god. How would god respond to that? It’s not about a group of working class people just doing their job and earning their paycheck, it’s about hubris.

MJW: (note - after this watch of Prometheus CJW and I watched Covenant, which I had not seen before... and still have not seen because I fell asleep ten minutes in.)

MKY: “How are the lessons going David?” Logan Marshall Green, the smug human. Doesn’t even know David’s fucking with him. Deservedly becomes the unwilling sacrifice later. Here’s mud in your eye motherfucker.

THE LANDING

CJW: I don’t know if Idris Elba’s accent is good, but I still enjoy it, and you can tell he’s having fun with the drawl.

Be careful what you wish for...

INSIDE THE STRUCTURE

CJW: Logan Marshall Green takes his helmet off at the earliest suggestion that there might be atmosphere on this alien planet. Faith or hubris?

MKY: This is absolutely a movie about hubris.

THEY FIND THE DEAD ENGINEER

MKY: Blah blah blah… They find the dead Engineer. “How long’s it been dead?”

What happened 2000 years ago, give or take? It’s the Aliens Christmas Special.

MJW: OMG was Jesus an Engineer? I feel like we would have heard about him being a thick-browed swole blue giant, but how would I know, I kept getting kicked out of religion class for asking too many questions about dinosaurs. 

MKY: Meanwhile David continues to do whatever the fuck he wants, damn the humans.

Shaw: Don’t touch that.

David: Okay.

David: *totally touches it*

CJW: Look at all those Christmas Presents waiting under the Non-Ecumenical Holiday Head™! IT’S A CHRISTMAS MOVIE

MKY: The Giant Engineer Heads definitely recall these awesome Olmec ones, and I wish they’d done something with that.

CJW: SKULL DOME! What could possiblie go wrong?

MJW: Look, it’s snowing, like at Christmas. But it’s sci-fi, so it’s snowing rocks at speed.

MKY: Ur a highly advanced prolly near immortal - but mortal after all - alien dude who died in fear and briefly regained consciousness only to realise some barely shaved apes and their robot son are shoving an electric spike into your brain. What do you do?

CJW: Just let Santa Claus sleep you jerk children.

MJW: I know when I find a dead alien specimen I know absolutely nothing about, the first thing I do is reanimate it’s corpse head so it can experience the horror of decapitation and then explode.

CJW: Seriously, if I die and 2,000 years later someone wakes me up, I’m going to self-destruct my own head too.

THE POISONING

CJW: Finally we get to see David unwrap his present. It turns out humanity has been a very bad species and Santa has put us on the naughty list. It’s even black like coal…

I think you can see the precise moment where David decides that he’s definitely going to infect Logan Marshall Green. I like to think that prior to that he was debating internally whether or not he was actually going to do it.

MJW: Do robots debate internally, though? I imagined more of a processing action of a microsecond or two.

CJW: When David asks LMG how far he is willing to go to get his answers, LMG’s answer gives David his justification, but at that point I think he had already made up his mind because of the way LMG had kept pushing him. Hubris again - LMG thinking he can keep goading David and he won’t react because he’s ‘just’ a machine.

THE (NOT-SO-)VIRGIN MARY

CJW: So often in Hollywood, motherhood is shown to be the highest good a woman can strive toward, and I wonder if the screenwriters could have gotten more horror into this film if they’d been able to consider that there are women out there who don’t care at all about having children. In Prometheus, Shaw’s pregnancy is horrifying in its alienness, but what if even a normal pregnancy would have been horrific for the character? What does that look like? I’m sure someone out there has written the feminist bodyhorror version of this story, so if you’ve come across it, let me know in the comments.

Anyway, “Joseph” is only able to impregnate Mary with the seed of god in him. But this god is anti-life. It turns everything into itself, which is death. Whereas Christians believe that god is everywhere and in everything, in the Alien universe god is not yet everywhere, but that is “His” explicit - if entirely instinctual - goal.

MKY: Why isn’t this whole movie just Idris and Charlize? So much chemistry. Every other scene is so flat in comparison.

COMMENCE THE DEATHENINGS

MKY: They met alien life finally and it’s horrifying. It’d def be a fun project folding the alien verse in with the dark forest.

CJW: MOAR HUBRIS - they find a creepy as fuck alien cobra eel and they decide it’s a good idea to play with it?

Idris: Do we have any idea what is oozing out of these vases?

It’s the Christmas Spirit, of course!

CJW: David dancing in the cockpit is a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment if anything.

Or here we realise that David is the only one who gets a real gift - where humanity gets the coal of death/anti-life, David (and by extension, the entire race of synthetic people) gets a literal map of the heavens and the true knowledge of the lesser god (the Engineers).

This is a gnostic story, with two gods vying for control of all of creation - the Engineers and the proto-Xenomorph.

MKY: Life and Anti-Life.

CJW: Vickers trying to maintain quarantine of her ship shows that she’s the only one sensible enough to have survived this horror movie.

MKY: right so it’s not exactly the virgin mary, she’s the barren woman made to carry… anti-life i guess?

Also the whole plot of Passengers being just a casual, nice dreams - oh yeah totally been stalking you final girl, side bit in this movie… dips into psychological horror before ramping up into full scifi action horror. And they are some great deathenings (which might’ve been even cooler, and made this an actual Alien movie).

CJW:Passengers was interesting because I’m still not sure if the creators knew whether they were making a horror movie or not. Or perhaps they thought they’d made a horror movie, but the studio decided that they’d made a romance?

MJW: The way I think of it is that the original script for Passengers had a horror ending but the fucking studio head was like, chomping on a cigar, saying ‘let’s make this a love story!’ and not realising that whatever Chris is in it is the least sexy person who ever lived.

CJW: Jesus Christ our Saviour is born!

CJW: Hey guys, welcome to r/self-suck.

CJW: Send feet pics.

The focus on Weyland’s feet is interesting too when we’re talking about this as an analog for Christian mythologies, because feet washing was something Jesus did for his disciples to show himself to be their servant, even though he was actually their god. Here David does the same, but it is all an act - washing Weyland’s feet to demonstrate his subservience even while he’s plotting to kill the whole crew.

(I also love how Shaw literally got an alien cut out of her and she doesn’t kill it, doesn’t tell anyone else about it. Could that have been worth exploring? A motherly instinct that stops her from doing what must be done? I guess they didn’t explore that because motherhood was Ripley’s theme, and this isn’t an Alien movie, this is an Engineer movie. It’s not about motherhood it’s about the creator, the battle between gods and their creation.)

MJW: I thought it did a nice little bit with pregnancy/body horror and I wanted more of that. Like, get it out, get it out!

CJW: There’s more hubris here too, Weyland continues to condescend to David, never believing for a moment that David might want him dead even as David tells Noomi that’s precisely what he wants.

CJW: They awaken god and he’s even more pissed off than Santa Claus. Only David gets a small moment of contact with the god of life before He decides it’s time to clean the slate.

This is where Vickers gets her present - the company and all that comes with it. But she’s a human who deserves only death, so her inheritance will soon be lost...

CJW: A good death.

MKY: Right? Idris has been the only one to get it the entire time, and his reward is to lead his team in a willing sacrifice to save all humankind. Idris is the true saviour.

CJW: Too bad that good death is followed by a bad scene. I have always liked Prometheus, and I still do, but even I have to admit that this scene is exactly as bad as the haters say.

CJW: Here Shaw finally remembers that she recently gave birth. Even though she’s been a terrible mother - a real Victor Frankenstein of parenthood - her baby Jesus still helps her to attack and dethrone god. You love to see it.

CJW: The end of Shaw’s arc is her learning the true meaning of Christmas - that it’s better to give than receive. I think this is part of why Alien: Covenant is a worse movie than Prometheus: (COVENANT SPOILER WARNING) by killing Shaw between films we lose so much of her story. Would she have come around to David’s POV and helped him in his plan to wipe out the Engineers after everything they did to her lover and the rest of her crew? Or would she have been prepared to kill David to stop him just so she could get her answers?

MJW: Why set up such a cool premise: a babe and her robot steal an alien ship and head off on a wacky trip across the galaxy and then not follow their madcap adventures as they chase their buff blue Earth-daddies across SPACE!

CJW: A movie where they confront the Engineers, are refused their answers, and then both together choose to wipe them out is more interesting than the one where Shaw dies off-screen and David is largely side-lined to instead focus on another crew of stupid humans.

MKY: yeah, that’s the sequel I want! Like, the one they set up. Killing off Shaw in between movies is even worse than killing off Hicks & Newt prior to Alien 3, cause they basically killed off Ripley - then brought another stand-in for her in..


CJW: That’s been our Prometheus Christmas Special! It has a sleigh loaded up with presents for every human on Earth! It has present unwrappings! It has a new Christian mythology! What more could you want from a Christmas movie?

Thanks for indulging us.

From the NH family to yours, after such a rough year we hope you have a great holiday period - stay safe, stay sensible, and look out for your loved ones.