Prometheus is a film that I did not intend to love as much as I did. I went into it hyped and expected to enjoy it but when the lights came up and I was shaking a bit and had that post movie euphoria that only the very best cinematic experiences produce.
This movie had no easy task, 30 years of mystique and mythology have been crafted about every facet of Alien and each movie that has followed in its wake. The Space Jockey is on screen for minutes and it sparked imagination of those who saw it. How do you top that built up imagination and wonder? What can you possibly show that will fill in the blanks better than 30 years of mystery?
It is funny but the easiest comparison I can make is the JFK Assassination. Alien sparks the idea and it grows and grows into some crazy mythology over the years, and then Prometheus comes along to act as the Lee Harvey Oswald. Stripping off the layers of the importance and bringing it down to the very small, very nihilistic, very practical level of the Engineers we are given in the movie. People want their conspiracy, their intrigue, the grassy knoll so I can see how some would be upset by the simplicity of the answer.
The bigger part of Prometheus that I came away with is how much I hate the dichotomy people place between visuals and story. It reminds me of the arguments I have had with people about comics about how the writers are more important than the artists and that a comic still be good if the writing is good and the art is not. We live in a society that emphasizes the writer over everything else, what we are told is most important no matter how much of the storytelling is going on through the visuals.
Prometheus is a film that is so crystal clear from a visual storytelling perspective, it requires you to pay attention at every second, because it pays things off in reverse or things become more clear as the film continues:
- David sprays something onto the ‘vase’, which he later pulls out of a freezer which locks into place that he froze it.
- They open the room and then are forced to leave because of the storm, when the two guys stumble back into it later the room has drastically changed due to environmental conditions being different over that period of time.
- The med-bay in Vickers room being programmed for males, because the room really Weyland’s which she is living in while he is still in cryo.
Prometheus is a story like the myth it is named after a story of hubris and consequence, about knowledge we think we want the answers to or need them too, but really at its core it is a very well tuned impeccably told science fiction adventure/thriller into the unknown. At the end of the day I don’t care about the questions, the minutia or paying off the mythology.
This movie is a visceral exploration into the unknown and I love it for that.