Alien and the religious angle
Posted Feb-12-2017 2:31 PM
Since Alien the series has gotten progressively more religious.Alien was simple,The Nostromo's refinery towers resembled cathedrals,plus Ridley described the film as having gothic terror.Aliens didn't seem to have any really(if there's something I'm missing feel free to point it out.)Alien 3 made the first big steps starting with Vincent Ward's Wooden planet.In it he described a group of monks who had been excommunicated from earth centuries ago,and lived on a space station covered completely with wood.They believed themselves to be the last remnants of mankind.The also believed the xenomorph to be the devil.They even forcibly remove Ripley's queen out through her throat in what they describe as an excorsism.The religious order is still echoed in the final film with Dillon leading the prisoners in a bizarre apocalyptic order.Alien Resurrection went one step further with its title being an almost literal nod to the Resurrection of Christ.Early sketches of the Auriga even had it shaped in the form of a crucifix to match the theme.Prometheus even more so than that as it literally deals with our creation.We have Shaw who is driven by her faith(a major point of contention with fans as far as The character goes)to meet our makers,our Gods if you will.There are some possible links from what transpired on LV-223 to the crucifixion of Christ.It's possible he may have been an engineer.We even have Shaw give a virgin birth of sorts,she cannot create life but does through being infected by the black goo.The film takes place on Christmas,that's no coincidence says Ridley Scott.Even at the end of the film Shaw keeps her faith.Now we have Alien Covenant.This one places Shaw and David(i forgot to point out the biblical themes behind his name)on the world of our creators.While its unclear what happened to the engineers,it is clear that David and Shaw become an Adam and Eve for this world Paradise which can be looked at as the garden of Eden .Not only Does David play Adam,but also the snake in the garden of Eden.David also seems to play the role of both God and the Devil,both creator and deceiver.There's also The Covenant itself.Aside from the religious implications with the name of the ship,it Also appears to take on the role of Noah's Ark,carrying only couples two and two.I think there's a lot more to point out,of course if I've missed something feel free the point it out.Is it possible with all the heavy handed religious themes to get an idea on Where the series might go next?Would David literally turn the Covenant into the Ark of the Covenant?Something that holds a terrifying and deadly power?Were the engineers a victim to an event similar to that of the flood?Between Prometheus and Alien Covenant,there are a lot of biblical apocalypse themes at work,so it does seem possible.
Posted Feb-12-2017 10:12 PM
To get the thread back on track. To me it seems David during his 2 years of being alone on the ship, seems there has been a lack of boundaries on David's part either from lack of interaction with humans to learn these boundaries or Mr. Weyland purposefully removed some programming that would be used as a boundaries guideline during human interaction. Davids actions during Prometheus, are odd and I feel like we're missing something
He pulls the urn from the chamber and takes it back to the ship, he then talks to Mr. Weyland in cryo and he tells him to try harder. He then doses Holloway with the black goo. What did we miss there? I know that is kind of broad stroking it. SM or BD can narrow it down some more.
Posted Feb-12-2017 10:40 PM
This thread doesn't give me any difficulties with wanting to be surprised by Covenant and it actually touches on the core challenge of making a further A L I E N movie.
I am 61 and so I suspect as close as anyone on this forum to Ridleys age. I couldn't give a rats tush about seeing a monster movie or a monster wars movie. However I am very taken with his attempt to contextualise the creature he made his name with.
Up until '3' they allowed, quite sensibly Ripley, to become the driving force behind the franchise and made her the A L I E N of that film. After that holds zero interest for me.
So we come back to how to create a philosophical context out of which this extra ordinary nightmare creation of Giger et al came into being and at the same time play with other themes which have become more prescient since 1978.
So you have to have something that makes you think, that challanges you, that is more than another dull movie for American and the burgeoning Far Eastern teenage market.
Curiously the idea is a very simple one. A superior species began experimenting with their given mode and created the mutagen described in one of the more accurate and articulate responses from Muther.
What will be nailed in Covenant is that Holloway and Shaw were completely off piste as Muther also hints. Just because there are some self regarding cave paintings doesn't make the objects our creators. It was a conceit driven by the loss of her mother at an early age. So a person with faith is made a fool of in Prometheus and used as Davids very own Petrie Dish. However having been humbled and been so wrong by her own admission Elizabeth recognises through Janek and her own deductions that this has lead to deep .... and its through her faith and determination and Janek's sacrifice that mankind is saved. It completely mystifies me that people do not see she was taught an appalling lesson with terrible personal consequences and produced another type of heroine. Yes she was wrong to begin with but she put it right. Anybody no any stupid human beings and even ones that have transformative experiences, and for some part of that comes out of the rigidity of faith however unfashionable and uncool to some. It was that rigidity with the symbolism of the cross that made her keep going, faith sounds like a good idea ?
Ridley as Wayne Haag said in his IV with AP pulls in things from all over the place, not one place, so we have riffs of the annunciation, sacrifice, ancient astronauts, bagdad batteries, flying saucers and thats intellectually entertaining but it does not mean he is preaching he is leaving us to think. If Lindelof was preaching he ain't very good at it, thats self evident.
Paradise Lost through retribution, The Arc of the Covenant unleashed, Artificial Intelligence gaining sentience and mankinds desire to go up against mortality, Valhalla and the Einherjar will all inform the film but that doesn't make it religious with a capital R it makes for fascinating entertainment, thought provoking entertainment going beyond the tired stereotypical tropes of Hollywood and using a myriad of sources to offer a fragment an insight into how might we end up with a super creational bio weapon (the black goo) which does none of its creators absolutely any favours. If you are going to create something as Jon Spaiht's said you need a creation story.
The 121 is a bit of punishment, a bit of biology, a bit of mechanisation and a lot of reproduction without a moral compass. Who would make such a thing someone with an axe to grind and a desire to cheat mortality. So far everyone (in the future) has tried to align it with their needs from a place of naivety. What will be interesting is the creators reaction to it when it realises it has entered another creator/creation rebellion cycle. Time to channel Elizabeth.
The movies and the prequel book will give context through riffing many philosophical elements of ancient myths to give the story weight just like all the visual riffs give the films a sense of authenticity. The difficulty is people get uncomfortable with the former whilst accepting the latter as "good thinking batman". Why thats the interesting one. This story isn't religious with a capital R its philosophical with a capital P. It touches upon belief systems without making any judgements, it might riff them even inform some characters but it is not a religious allegory. The only message is art can stimulate you to think about concepts which are covered by various mythos.
Posted Feb-12-2017 10:53 PM
You will find when you have seen Covenant that David (and Weyland) knew a great deal more than was revealed by the script writers of Prometheus and that David and Weyland's relationship was much more complicated. Weyland thought they were Co Dependent Quasi Father/Son. David had other ideas and he could bide his time whereas Sir Peter could not. David already knew at the point of that conversation with the mind visor "There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing" but he stuck to his servant role waiting for his moment, he very nearly miscalculated but then faith came along and helped him how ironic. Sir Peter should have listened to his daughter her human intuition told her what was going to happen. David neither wanted or could be the candid friend. He was full on curious as encouraged by his "father" in the opening scene of Covenant I expect.
Posted Feb-13-2017 12:26 AM
Good morning MJ,
Long time no see. I agree with you there was a lot going on behind the scenes between Weyland and David. I think David was a bit rebellious of is "father" at the very least extremely independent. How does the desert allegory tie into Weylands death scene?
Posted Feb-13-2017 12:58 AM
Think about this when David allowed Sir Peter to head on down to the pilot chamber :-
1) He already knew there was nothing for Sir Peter and said so when Sir Peter acknowledged it. Interestingly he does not say the same thing to Elizabeth either when she asks him to take her to Paradise which he makes clear he is aware of. Is he dissembling again or does he believe there is something of value. Elizabeth assumes the Engineers are good and dandy. David knows where to find them what does he know of the state of Paradise before they fly out, that may play into the Covenant narrative. Presumably he doesn't think they are all washed up like LV 223. When the script writers were planning Prom 2 it was not nice but it was alive and kicking, will we read the same intent into David and Elizabeth exchanges once we know what and in what order things happened on Paradise.
2) He knew the Black Goo was "all wrong" By this time he had seen its effect on Holloway and Elizabeth.
3) He had seen the effect of it on the Engineers and as will become clearer he knew what LV 223 was all about.
So rather than caution his "father". There is nothing here and I agree with Meredith he allowed the whole shebang to head down and wake up the pilot. As Ridley said by this time David's influence on the narrative was rotten/evil and he wanted his parent to die not because he was his parent but he viewed him as a creator with whom he wished to rebel against.
Posted Feb-13-2017 1:48 AM
You always give us philosophical depth and interesting analyses, Michelle. What are your thoughts about “Laurence of Arabia” and David’s fascination (identification?) with T.E. Lawrence? The film is about rebellion and war and about a person seeking himself (like David?).
Also, “There is nothing in the desert, and no man needs nothing” is a double negative. Is it colloquial or meaning “Every man needs something”?
Posted Feb-13-2017 10:51 AM
Glad to see things are getting back on track here. Religious themes do not imply preaching. It seemed very clear Prometheus was not intended to preach, but to explore a very complex series of "what if" questions.
As MJ delineated, the movie was loaded to the gills with a sub dialogue about various aspects of the human condition and cultural influence. It seems Ridley is interested moving the viewer to imagine these human characteristics in various contexts. More than a story about mysterious monsters, he's asking the audience to consider these philosophical questions within and without the human context. You see this being slowly established with the history of the engineers and you see it being established with an android who is very likely moving beyond it's programming, an experience for which parallels can be drawn to experiences humans identify as spiritual or transcendental.
Moreover, we have the human journey towards technological evolution juxtaposed against the result of the engineers likely having followed a similar path. Then there are these two concepts held in comparison to raw, accelerated, biological evolution.
This philosophic dialogue is taking place on the small scale of individuals such as Shaw and David but it is also taking place on the large scale in terms of the evolution of civilizations and of entire species. Then we have the wild card. A discussion on mortal beings wielding the power of creation. Something traditionally thought of as the domain of immortals.
It is this complexity that makes it all more about exploring concepts rather than preaching an agenda.
Posted Feb-13-2017 11:57 AM
taking into account these movies were not intended to be 'alien' themed movies but a greater question altogether that had alien tones on a path that joins in with alien and the whole point of the movies is to ask the questions RS is confused as to why no one else addressed them in the other films, the religious angle is the best way to do the movies. I for one find it an intriguing theory which im guessing ridley truly believes to be a possibility. hes taking us on the journey of the SJ from before the derelict was discovered and tying humanity into it all. I like the way hes going and though not a religious person, the question of who made us is something we have all pondered at some stage. I cant wait for AC but I truly hope we go back to the Prometheus themed style for its sequel
Posted Feb-13-2017 2:50 PM
@SM because :-
a) There was no chatter when they opened the com. systems. Nothings happening in the desert, nice link with Wadi Rum.
b) At the point that he escorted the Weyland party to the Juggernaut he had already filled out the broad strokes and knew that waking a pilot hell bent on destroying mankind is not going to produce a favourable response. "There is nothing".. for me here. "I know" ... wow how passive aggressive was that.
Will reveal David was not surprised by what they found. This will be part of the lifting up of Prometheus and dragging it along with the Covenant narrative. In other words elements of what was said and done and witnessed in Prometheus will take on their true meaning and in some cases different ones to what may have been extrapolated by the original screen writers. Source Wayne Haag interview.
Posted Feb-13-2017 5:49 PM
I take the quote from L of A quite literally. They had come to an arid deserted place and there is nothing here for them. The folding line is when Sir Peter says "there is nothing" and David said "I know" see my above remarks.
How much is David channelling Lawrence ? As I have said earlier Ridley borrows bits rather than copies wholesale or allegorises and that then leaves the recipient to decide how much channelling is going on. "The trick William Potter is not minding it hurts". That line would have fascinated David because Lawrence is offering, identifying with Davids place in things for him it does not hurt. So Lawrence would be a kindred spirit.
Lawrence of course was defiled, lowered by the Turkish General at Dera. The consequence of which lead to Lawrence's moral downfall in the aftermath of Tafas where we see him in the extended cut lead the slaughter of the retreating Turkish Army in revenge. One wonders what Davids thoughts about that arc of events once he has been restored. He clearly has developing emotional responses would he seek revenge and slaughter on the Engineers for his lowering and humiliation?
Whether the out manoeuvring in the end of Lawrence by Allenby will play into the Covenant narrative is unclear. I suspect the core story is about Walter's attempt to bring David into line and his reaction. Will the Covenant hierarchy fall for the smug assumptions of later W-Y employees or will they literally decide to get the .... out of here. This is where it becomes interesting what are there motives and how do they relate to David and the consequences of the Bio Weapon.
Posted Feb-13-2017 6:34 PM
I will add to this tomorrow as busy now...
But i will add that yes the Franchise has a lot of Religious and Sacrificial Elements, and Prometheus seemed to be teasing these a bit more, now we actually have a Gods into the Franchise who are merely advanced Ancient Culture who mankind was created in part by and we interpreted all out believes off our encounters with them.
Indeed seemed Ridley Scott was going to expand upon this but we cant read into it as being too literal.
Right now with the Alien Covenant.. John Logan Re-write who knows how much this has been toned down... but i would like to think the Covenant name will imply a few multiple connections to Biblical and Paradise Lost accounts but only loosely...
So its not a literal direct connection... so just like Prometheus teased but did not go the route of Space Jesus or a Magical being created the World and then Mankind in 7 days.
But a agreement of some kind that involved the Engineers either in context to David or some Covenant they made with Mankind, or other Faction or their own Creators at some point in history i think for sure has to be at play.
I do like Apple Pie, hope to share some on my Birthday in May!
Posted Feb-13-2017 6:46 PM
i will quickly touch upon Michelles "There is Nothing" quote.
I dont think David knew that there was nothing, as far as nothing the Engineers Could do, i know he knows they are Mortal After All... i think he may indeed think there is little as far as Weylands Wishes, maybe Weyland thinking these Gods would be more Godlike than he found.
But David i dont think can be too sure they are advanced enough to indeed sustain and extend Weylands Life, they are so Advanced that their Medical Knowledge could be so far advanced that maybe they could help him? Or maybe not, i dont think David has enough information to know how much they can help. They could naturally live a long time, and be unable to extend Weylands Life...
I dont think David would know enough about this.
But i do agree with you, that there is Nothing...
As far as Regardless of if these Engineers could or could not and possess or do not any means to extend Weylands Life.
David knows that the Engineer will most likely not grant Weyland this, i feel David kind of knew the Engineers wanted all Mankind dead and so he would have guessed the likely outcome would be there would be nothing the Engineer would be willing to offer.
But as with a lot of Prometheus its ambiguous to the point we can find other explanations..
Did David mean to Weyland that there is Nothing.. as far as Life after Death? that these Engineers are not Gods that Mankind based its whole Religions on and Paradise and the Soul, which Weyland Claimed David can never have one.
Well did David after what he saw and gathered and after the Engineers are Mortal after All, did David then realize... "you know what looks like there is no Soul after all"
So for Weyland there is now nothing....
And David then rubs it in, by wishing him a Safe/Happy Journey
Sorry Michelle if the 2nd interpretation was what you was referring to and not the 1st.
This Topic is going to be one busy debate and i will add more to my two cents tomorrow ;)
I do like Apple Pie, hope to share some on my Birthday in May!
Posted Feb-13-2017 7:03 PM
BigDave - That's a very interesting thing what you say about this 'not enough' interpretation: David has no enough information, he does not know enough, etc.
The second part of the sentence in question 'There is nothing in the desert, and no man needs nothing.' has an official translation (not important what language, etc) in the movie Prometheus with the words (back to English): '...and it is not enough for anyone.'
Posted Feb-14-2017 1:12 AM
Michelle: I guess you are right about interpreting the quote literally. “There is nothing in the desert” (it’s dry and empty) and there is nothing on LV-223 for Sir Peter Weyland (or anyone else). There might even be nothing in general for mankind? No God in an empty and indifferent universe without any meaning? But how are we to interpret “No man needs nothing” (No one needs anything), resignation perhaps? David seems to have a need for love (recognition) and Shaw has a need to find answers?
As you say, Michelle, David has no emotions/feelings so he can identify with Lawrence about “not minding that it hurts” (There is a big difference of course between not minding and not feeling at all). But still, it might perhaps be possible within AI to develop emotions? In Kubricks 2001, the ship’s computer (HAL 9000) gets jealous and wants revenge, just like David? Is it David’s battle with Goliath (mankind/engineers), like Lawrence’s battle against the turks?
Did David know that there was “nothing” and about what was going to happen (to Peter and the rest of them) or is he just like a curious, lonely boy (Aurora’s song) who likes to learn but have no emotions (yet) so no “real” understanding (He can understand things but not feel them) of hurting others? After seeing the head explode (and seeing dead engineers) David points out that they are “mortal after all” so he understands that Peter won’t get what he wants from them (eternal life)? But he’s still curious or he might not have enough information as to whether they could extend Peter’s life (as you say BD) or not?
Posted Feb-14-2017 7:36 AM
I think indeed maybe the “There is nothing in the desert” quote could be in the movie to hint that there is nothing, and maybe this is the aim of that quote.
But it was in a odd place just as they arrive and so how can David know anything of such, it kind of conflicts the David and Weyland interaction when he was told to "Try Harder"
However..... the Viral Site claims the company knew about the Potential for that system to have life and a maybe Easter Egg on the extras... does claim that the company knew about a Signal on LV-426 and that maybe this moon has more reward at more higher risk than LV-223 and that David would be in bedded on the ship to investigate this but only he would know about it (we assume Weyland does too).
So who knows if this is Canon, and then what information David has about the Signal.... if the SOS in Alien was a Space Jockey and it was the same Language or one the Engineers use, then David would surely know at least what the Space Jockey SOS was and about the Derelict.
So this way maybe he already knows then that there is nothing for Mankind to have/find here.... as far as Shaws hopes and Weylands.
But then would this mean David from this point has his own Agenda from the start?
I do like Apple Pie, hope to share some on my Birthday in May!
Posted Feb-14-2017 10:50 AM
chli: 'In Kubricks 2001, the ship’s computer (HAL 9000) gets jealous and wants revenge, just like David?'
chli - The sequel to 2001, 2010 - The Year We Make Contact, reveals everything about HAL's behaviour and decisions. No jealousy and no revenge in the background. He just followed his (secret) programming (not revealed for the crew by the 'company') and had to face a fatal confusion.
(2010 is one of my favourites, it is slow but brilliant in my op.)
Posted Feb-14-2017 11:08 AM
Ati: Yes, you are right about that. I love 2001 and read Arthur C Clarke's novels (2001 and 2010) a couple of years ago (really good novels). I forgot about that explanation about Hal which was given in 2010 (Was it contradictory orders that made "him" lose it?). Maybe he didn’t develop emotions but the crew became expendable to him. Sounds familiar? :)
Posted Feb-14-2017 11:09 AM
ati, 2001 and 2010 r both masterpieces. hal was such a brilliant character and ash in alien was very similar. hidden agenda that they didn't have the experience to handle the many variants that would come into play. ash just followed his programming though as he had the crew expendable protocol. hal though didn't have that to guide him so had to come up with a solution of his own. im sure hal9000 was a big blueprint for O'Bannon as he has stated before when someone asked which writer he had 'stolen' bits from he said 'all of them' lol
Posted Feb-14-2017 12:43 PM
chli - 'I forgot about that explanation about Hal which was given in 2010 (Was it contradictory orders that made "him" lose it?).'
Yes, and he tried to do his best to satisfy humanity in general. :) He was not evil at all. Added to this, as you know, he sacrifices himself for the new crew at the end of 2010. A new David parallelism? Who knows? As for me, I would predict that David won't sacrifice himself at the end of Alien:Covenant. At least not entirely, for sure. He will find the way to survive 'everything' and establish his position as a secret and independent AI unit with enough power to control the events in the following decades - including the events around 2120 leading to the consequences seen in Alien.
ali81 - I totally agree with you. I'm planning to read the whole Odyssey series by Clarke. Probably you know that Clarke wrote two sequels as well: 2061. Odyssey Three and 3001 - The Final Odyssey.
As for HAL, I like the fact that his name was derived from 'IBM'.
Posted Feb-14-2017 12:57 PM
They are :)
Posted Feb-15-2017 6:04 AM
@BD and Chli
What Prince Faisal was narrating was that the desert holds nothing for man the answers do not lie there and he was ultimately right about it in terms of Lawrence and his ultimate journey.
David offers this observation when there is no chatter from LV 223. He is expecting and deducing correctly they are not going to find an answer that is alive and thriving.
What he does find is an Engineer who is in cryo sleep. However by the time the decision is taken to wake him him to establish if he can help Weyland.
1) He knows about the affect of the Black Goo on Engineers and mankind.
2) He knows that the failed mission he has discovered, once he was able to turn the Engineers holographic navigation systems on, was to take a payload of canisters to Earth to destroy mankind first in order to create you need to destroy.
Now how anyone can think that isn't sufficient evidence to question whether the Engineer when woken may not be good news for Sir Peter Weyland would be surely to quote Ripley on the matter of I Q's.
@BD and specifically I am not saying whether the Engineers had the technology or had stolen the technology to render Sir Peter's dream true, though all the evidence of this disastrous race is they failed period, but that they would have absolutely no intention of supporting Sir Peter's dream and thats why in his death throws Sir Peter said there is nothing and David said I know, having already deduced this, and safe travels acknowledging the existential nature of death.
Sir Peter was the apex of the hubris of the movie and his daughter told him the truth whereas his creation went along with in an entirely passive aggressive way.
David said "I know" because he did know given all he had instigated and investigated, its not complicated.
As to whether David knew even more than the script writers of Prometheus allowed for, I think when we look at Prometheus in the rear view mirror of Covenant several elements will be informed and evolved by Covenant and they will all be elements which are shared by both elements of the story namely.
1) The Engineers and possibly the acolyte (a scene from that act is shown in a still of the trailer) .
2) The Black Goo.
3) David and Peter Weyland. Shaw will be consequence and what we saw in Prometheus is what we got.
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