Here Thar Be Monsters!
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One Dot Does Not A Picture Make
Ridley Scott, always on the cutting edge of yesterday's news, has delivered Prometheus to a waiting world. Freed from the constraints of slim actors in rubber suits, he has re-imagined his 33-year-old flick Alien. While he was at it, he sprinkled it liberally with themes that truly are on the cutting edge of research and thought. Too bad that, like a cat, he immediately turns around and buries them under a standard (now-a-days) 'bug hunt' movie.
The effect is kind of like Rand Paul endorsing Mitt Romney.
I know it worked, because my wife, who's a die-hard - whatever they call that weird American religion with Christian trappings. Shortly after leaving the cinema, she piped up with, "I'm confused. They said another being created Man, and not God?"
"Well, yes, babe. If you read the ancient texts and study the original languages, you find that's pretty much what they say," I replied laconically.
End of that conversation. But the seed was planted, which I'm pretty sure was the whole intent of the film.
I wanted to explain how in Genesis, where we read (in English) that "the spirit of God moved upon the waters," the word 'spirit' is derived from the original Hebrew ruach, which itself is a combination of two Mesopotamian words, ru and a. Together, they mean 'a thing which creates wind as it passes.' The Vatican's official Latin Vulgate dictionary translates ruach as res incognito volens, which in English means, more or less, UFO. Don't take my word for it, Mauro Biglino is much smarter about these things than I am. I just learned this stuff sitting in my Bible classes at the monastery. I wanted to explain all this, but baby steps...
Regardless of all the scholarship behind the assertion that humans are a product of genetic engineering by another species, planting that concept in the mass mind in a way that is entertaining, thus slipping past people's normal bullshit barriers, is no small task.
That Ridley is conscious of what he is doing is evidenced by the ham-fisted use of overlapping symbols to make his point. That he was successful in making the point is evidenced by the fact that my wife, who is not terribly sophisticated in the ways of semiotics, got the message. In fact, it was the only message that she brought up in the aftermath.
About this time 33 years ago, I sat in my roommate's Saab 900 Turbo at a drive-in in Santa Fe, New Mexico with two other running mates. We were all hopped up on various perception-altering substances and staring wide-eyed at Ridley's original conception. Alien truly was just a 'bug-hunt' movie, albeit the likes of which no one had ever experienced up until 1979. With Prometheus, Ridley expands the scope a bit to include events that reach back into distant time, and brings us up to within a generation of the events in the former film.
That Ridley is aware of the semiotic whirlpool raging around our daily lives is without question. Even a cursory look at Blade Runner tells us that. I mean, come on...the only time the sun is seen in the whole film is while at the top of Tyrell Corp's peakless pyramid-shaped building, and the only animals in evidence in the whole film are a snake and an owl (though turtle and spider are mentioned). He knows the pieces.
What Promethieus appears to show is that he has assembled the pieces into the same conclusions that quite a few folks are coming to, who bother to plumb the depths of existence. The real question is, is he trying to educate us, or is he just a shill for the Controllers trying to scare us away? That he would slip such profound ideas into the envelope of fear and trembling leads me to believe he is the latter. We are apparently not allowed to ask such questions because, "Here thar be monsters."
On the other hand, Dorothy trotting into the sunset with her dog Toto in tow (just have to watch it) let's us know we aren't in Kansas anymore. Perhaps he is warning us that to tread on such topics is to be bitten, so beware.
Obviously, the film will require a good bit more analysis on my part. That the film has meat to chew on is a credit to Ridley's work, which is why I chose to spend my entertainment dollar on his effort, rather than Men In Black 3.
Or maybe they'll be frightened off by the prospect of being bitten by whatever monsters dwell at the depths of Man's collective being.
One thing is for sure, given Ridley Scott's filmography and abilities. Prometheus is more than just an entertainment. That part is only the glazing on the cake. The real substance will be found withing the layers buried at the heart of this film. Ridley may not be as adept as, say, Kubrick, but he is no slouch in the semiotic department. Trim away the fat and the gristle, and there's meat on this bone. Only time will tell whether it's corn-fed Iowa, or dressed-up horse meat.
Post Scriptum - Georgia at The Chronicle Project was compelled to write in an point out that their work has brought many of these themes and ideas into the open. If you are not familiar with The Chronicle Project, and you are interested in what the original Hebrew texts behind the Bible really say, then I highly recommend spending some time clicking through their site. Warning: here thar be monsters.