#366 – Review: Prometheus

Since I saw Prometheus I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. As a movie, Prometheus was good and very entertaining. It was beautifully shot and some of the characters were multi-faceted, which made them truly interesting. So, if you’re looking to be entertained by a well produced, sci-fi thriller, you can’t do much better than Prometheus.

Prometheus’ quality isn’t what has kept it running through my head, though. The themes explored in the movie are so compelling and thought provoking that I haven’t been able to push them from my mind.

It’s difficult to write one of my standard movie reviews for Prometheus. Jotting down some tenuous connections between Christianity and Prometheus hardly does justice to the movie and the themes it explores. Prometheus is a movie that needs to be watched with a group and then discussed afterwards. It will also be difficult to write a completely spoiler-free review since a number of the themes are founded upon spoilery material.

With that said, though, below are some thoughts I had while watching Prometheus and thoughts I’ve had in the time since the final credits rolled. They’re not entirely spoiler-free but I’ll try to keep the spoilers to themes and not plot.

Faith and Science

Dr. Elizabeth Shaw is one of the main characters in Prometheus. She is one of the scientists who believes that she has discovered evidence of an alien race who created humanity. Shaw is not only a brilliant scientist but she is also a person of deep faith; her cross is one of her most prized possessions. She is conflicted between finding humanity’s creators and what that would mean for her faith in God. I’m interested in how science and faith relate to each other. The cavity between faith and science hasn’t always been there; some of the earliest church fathers understood that faith and science could inform each other. I think a deeper understanding of science can help us to have a deeper understanding of God, his bigness and his creativity. To gain that deeper understanding, though, followers of Jesus have to subdue their fear of science and really engage with astronomy, geology, archeology, biology and all those other ologies. We need to begin with a proper theology and then see how science can help grow our faith.

Artificial Life

The android, David, is one of the best characters in Prometheus. It’s fascinating to watch David interact with his creators as they themselves are searching for their own creators. In my review of Aliens I wrote about the creation of artificial life and its presence throughout science fiction. In many different universes the artificial life strives to become more human: Data in The Next Generation, the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, Pinocchio in the classic fairy tale. David, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to want to be human. He has a level of disdain for his creators, perhaps because they themselves are nothing more than a creation. We can’t have any of that same disdain when thinking about our creator. The Bible is very clear that God is the creator; he is wholly other and the only one worthy of our praise. David’s disdain for his creators is intriguing because they themselves are part of the created order. Our disdain for God is simply foolish because he is completely separate from the created order.

Mortality

Mortality is another theme central to Prometheus. Why would we want to find those who gave us life other than to ask them to keep us from death? I remember when I first really grasped the idea of mortality and death. I wasn’t that concerned with my own death, but I was tormented by the realization that my mom would eventually die. Mortality is difficult because we all want to know what happens when we cross that final threshold. Some suggest that versions of the afterlife, whether Christian, Buddhist or whatever, are nothing more than coping mechanisms to deal with death. Obviously I believe there is an afterlife and it’s spent in either heaven or hell. As followers of Christ we shouldn’t fear our own mortality because we know that we’ve been given life that never ends. The bigger struggle for us is living that eternal life in the here and now, not just waiting until we die. Death has no victory in Christ. Instead of living our lives to cheat death and mortality, we should live in such a way to bring life to everyone around us.

Prometheus is truly one of the most thought provoking movies I’ve ever seen. I love when science fiction goes beyond lasers and aliens to explore the deeper themes of life and humanity. Science fiction is a perfect medium for themes of humanity because we can see ourselves more clearly when contrasted with alien creatures, worlds and ideas.

What did you think about Prometheus?

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7 Responses to “#366 – Review: Prometheus”

  1. Michael Says:

    There seems to be a lot of deliberate and subtle parallels with Christianity. Take the Christmas tree, the mention of Christmas, all the close up shots and focus on Shaw’s cross. Then you have Elizabeth, who is infertile, becoming pregnant, and the android announcing it to her with a calmness almost as she’s reluctant to the news. Mary/Elizabeth/birth parallels. Then there’s the life giving, self sacrificing elements. Also the humanoid drinking the cup at the beginning of the film. Then the giant “Space jockey” ripping the head off of david. David beheaded Goliath “the giant” in the Bible. Reversal in the movie…

  2. John McWilliams Says:

    The movie claims that our DNA is of their DNA…But who created that DNA…Hmmmm. I believe that Elizabeth’s faith is shaken until she realizes that these “Engineers” may not have been our creators. Admittedly a projection from my desire to see this series tell a truly awesome Biblical story; the Genesis account of the sons of God, taking the daughters of men. This is a story where the enemies of God and man, the fallen angels, try to disrupt the bloodline of Eve in order to prevent the birth of the Messiah. It didn’t work…Noah remained “perfect in his generations”. In other words, his DNA was not corrupted.

    Today, there is a renewed effort to corrupt our DNA…In the name of “evolution” we now await the “Singularity”. An event where man is no longer man, rather a new “Super” human that has merged with machines. (Read about Ray Kurzweil). The next logical step would be to mix nonhuman with human DNA in order to create a chimeric new form of…of…what? As a Christian, all I have to do is wait for Lord to fix my broken DNA. It’s His promise.

    In reality, Mr. Scott probably will not allow his protagonist to find a Christian God…I think he believes all religions to be worshiping the same god. YHWY is Allah is Buddah is anyones “higher power”. But I perhaps I can still hope that Elizabeth does find the Engineers to be whom I suspect them to be…Fallen.

    • I definitely don’t think Ridley Scott began with an evangelical Christian worldview; had he, Prometheus would have been a much different movie. I think it’s interesting that, even without a Christian worldview, the big questions always come back to God and Jesus at some point. God’s narrative is the narrative and it cannot be escaped. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  3. I agree with John.

    I also see parallels with the quest for constructing a super race, i.e. the Nazis. That may be the “Engineers'” intent with the DNA cocktail. they may have felt they’d failed and thus to wipe out us “inferior” humans. Again the Nazi parallel.

    Note, too that they seemed to worship a big humanoid head of stone. This supports John’s thesis of the Engineers being fallen; they certainly weren’t godly, though they seem to want to be God-like.

    I will watch the movie again, and can’t wait for a sequel!

    • Wanting to be like God is the original sin, one which humanity may share with the engineers. I agree with you, Daniel, Prometheus is definitely worth watching again and I certainly hope Ridley Scott gets to fulfill his vision with a sequel.

  4. […] with the news of a new Alien movie, I’m also very excited for a sequel to Prometheus. I loved Prometheus and thought it was one of the most thought-provoking science fiction movies I’ve seen in a long […]

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