Prometheus Movie and Genetic Engineering

alarmduckBiotechnology

Dec 12, 2012 (8 years and 8 months ago)

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Prometheus
:
A Movie Review

by John David Ebert

There is so much going on in Ridley Scott’s
Alien

prequel that it is difficult, even for me, to know
which angle to approach it from. It is an exceptionally rich film, packed with ideas, and I think it is
safe to say that it is also the best science fiction film made in at least fifteen years.

The first
thing that strikes one while watching it is that Scott’s handling of science fiction, as
originally evidenced by both
Alien

and
Blade Runner
, is so effortless that one wonders why he
squandered so many years of his career as a filmmaker creating one drab,
mediocre movie after
the next. This is the genre that he is clearly most at home in, and he never should have given up on
it in the first place.
Prometheus

makes recent science fiction films like
Moon, District 9

or
Pandorum
look like they were made by a t
ribe of monkeys hammering away at a typewriter trying
to create imitations of Shakespearean plays.

The film tells a cosmological tale that describes how life on earth was created by a race of alien
beings known enigmatically as the Engineers. As in the cos
mology of Rudolf Steiner, in which
creation begins with the sacrifice of the bodies of angels whose substance is then woven together to
create the astral body of the human being, so too, the film begins with a primordial sacrifice of an
Engineer who offers

himself to the ancient earth’s rivers, seeding it with his DNA, from out of
which the earth’s first microorganisms will arise.

In the film’s present timeline, the crew of the spaceship Prometheus is sent to the moon LV
223

in order to find and communicat
e with these Engineers who, meanwhile, have created a sort
of temple with a cult of genetic engineers who have set about creating the ancestors of the
Xenomorphs as weapons which they plan to use in order to wipe out the human race. We are not
told why, no
r, given the present state of depravity of human life, do we need to be told.

It is, of course, a reworking of the Book of Genesis, in which the angels who descend to teach
humanity the arts of civilization are later traded out for the wrath of Yahweh when

he changes his
mind about his progeny and decides to wipe them out with a Flood.

When, in
1 Enoch
, Noah’s
ancestor Enoch is taken up into heaven by the angels, he sees the great gates where Yahweh keeps
all the floodwaters that he plans to unleash upon h
umanity, but in the present film, the floodwaters
are traded out for serpents as the prototypes of the Xenomorphs. Serpents, as in Indian
mythology, are a well
-
known analogue for water. In Indian myth, they are known as nagas, and
they are the enemies of G
aruda, the sun bird upon which Vishnu rides and pecks them off one by
one. In this film, the spaceship Prometheus is traded out for the Garuda sun bird, which descends
from the heavens onto the surface of LV255 as its technologized equivalent, where its cr
ew will
then go to war against these new science fiction nagas.

But, of course, the temple in which the Engineers are creating these serpentine Xenomorphs
resembles an ancient burial mound, like a Buddhist stupa


itself an adapted and modified kurgan
tomb



in which the prototypes of what will later become the eggs of the aliens in the other films
are here cannisters that are shaped very much like the ancient Egyptian canopic jars in which the
viscera of the bodily organs were kept at the time of mummifica
tion. The larval creatures that are
kept inside these containers do, indeed, resemble bodily viscera.

So, on one level, the film looks back at, and retrieves the ancient cult of the Elders and their
ritualized traditions of death and burial and contrasts i
t with the electronic technologies of the
West’s cult of the Wonder Child, whose miracles in the form of floating, disembodied computer
screens and self
-
luminous
sukshma

technologies are evident throughout the film. Indeed, it is as
though the film were dr
amatizing the West’s twinge of guilt at tossing the cult of the Elders aside in
favor of culturally disintegrative and destructive electronic technologies that have, in the meantime,
liquidated traditional culture forms everywhere. The film seems to functi
on as an oracular
reminder that the Dead cannot be simply tossed aside, or else, as at Halloween when they don
masks and trouble our doorsteps, they will wreak revenge in the form of the various catastrophes
which do indeed seem to be surfacing nowadays al
l around us.

The U
-
shaped spacecraft of the Engineers which is headed for earth pregnant with seeds of death
and destruction should be contrasted with Elizabeth Shaw’s (played by Noomi Rapace) obstetric
abortion, who refuses to give birth to one of the nag
as. The Engineers who have created a
technology that has escaped from their control like the Titans and Asuras out of ancient myth who
escape the overcoding of the arborescent systems of the state apparatus which attempts to suppress
them (and which always

code for multiple ethnicities in ancient myth) should recall to the viewer’s
mind a technological system created and given birth to by the West which is now tearing out of the
grip of our control and slowly turning against us.

Soon, the Earth, too, will b
e spawning its own nagas, asuras and Xenomorphs which it will send
against us in the form of the various nature disasters that will slowly dismantle the edifice of
technological civilization piece by piece, bit by bit. The alien that burst out of the techn
ological
exoskeleton that has confined it is a direct parallel with the Earth’s ecosystems that will burst out of
the egg of the planetary scale technoskeleton that we have built as an attempt to capture, encode
and control it by systems of dominant engine
ering.

In short,
Prometheus

captures and compresses the entire history of Western civilization’s
technological project, including even dire warnings about its future, into a 2 hour and 4 minute
popcorn movie.

I look forward to the sequel.