Alien: Covenant
The Trials of the Invidual VS an Indifferent Universe...

The Trials of the Invidual VS an Indifferent Universe...

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FacehuggerMember194 XPMay-02-2017 10:53 PM

In my studies of the Science Fiction films of Sir Ridley Scott, I've come to the conclusion that they all have the same basic underlying theme:

The trials of the individual against a cold, indifferent, even hostile Universe.

In this respect, the theme of Scott's films (and one could argue the above theme runs through many of his non-SF works as well) is similar to that of the literary works of author Joseph Conrad, who was a major influence on the director. Conrad himself once wrote,

"In this world--as I have known it--we are made to suffer without the shadow of a reason, of a cause or of guilt.... There is no morality, no knowledge and no hope; there is only the consciousness of ourselves which drives us about in a world that… is always but a vain and fleeting appearance…." (Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: A Biography, 1991, p. 166.)

This "consciousness of ourselves," is what leads to a character's success or failure in Scott's films. Self-awareness, self-determination, free will--these are what allow a character to go on to live, at least for a while, in the hostile environments of Scott's science fiction worlds.

From the beginning, the viewer is presented with images depicting the smallness and insignificance of human beings:

Their spaceships are dwarfed by massive planets.

We see sprawling dystopian cityscapes and towering temple-esque company buildings:

Compared to the galaxy beyond, humanity's most advanced spacecraft are nothing more than a streak of light amidst a sea of innumerable stars.

Certainly, the Universe is beautiful

But, (if I may be allowed to quote my favorite metal band, Rudra), "in beauty, there is ugliness," and the Universe is full of things that are all too happy to use you for their own purposes:

The Company you serve,

Creepy-crawly things that are all-too-eager to meet you…

Image result for covenant facehugger attack gif

Some of them are inherently aggressive, whether it's by innate instinct

Or by profession

Image result for deckard vs zhora

Sooner or later, something is going to try to kill you. And the Universe doesn't care. Not one damn bit.

The Universe just IS.

And the individual human being is so insignificantly tiny in comparison

How can one hope to survive?

Putting on a suit of armor certainly is no guarantee of survival

Don't seek refuge in a safe space, either. Oh no. Your home may not be so safe as you think. For nasty things lurk in the dark places…

Image result for dallas and alien air shaft gif

And your safety can disintegrate into uncertainty in the blink of an eye.

Image result for the martian hab explosion gif

Your parents cannot help you

And your children will forsake you

And sooner or later you must realize that you will die, as everyone does.

Even your gods.

But don't give in to despair. For that is the path to certain death.

Rebel against the things that would constrain you,

Fight to keep yourself alive, despite the pain.

Fight, with every fiber of your being, even when you think you can fight no more, and live another day

And even when you know Death is imminent, have the courage to face it head-on

And if you do manage to carve out another day of existence in this Universe of suffering and fear,

Know always that your existence is fleeting

So goodnight,

And sleep well,

For you may awaken in Hell.

10 Responses to The Trials of the Invidual VS an Indifferent Universe...


PraetorianMember2861 XPMay-02-2017 11:33 PM

Ok, AWESOME post!!! VERY thought provoking, and also quite True, I have to say.

As for why fight a hostile and uncaring universe?
Same answer as The Question...

Why Not?





Jim Pills

OvomorphMember62 XPMay-02-2017 11:52 PM

AAAAaaaand Welcome one and all to the philosophy thread, pithy quotes accepted here!!! /s

The universe is all that is or ever was or ever will be. (paraphrasing Carl Sagan) Just accept it... 

It's up to the individual to make sense of it the best he or she can, so everyone sees things slightly different to everyone else. Which brings about a cornucopia of ideas, opinions and opportunities for every species within it.


PraetorianMember2861 XPMay-03-2017 12:38 AM

here's a thought, about the Universe....

It's more complicated than we might think.

Now, below, here's a Theory that Husband is developing, and the scary thing is, no one in the Scientific Community has been able to blow a hole in it.

You need to right-click and select View Image, I dunno why it's so dark when re-sized.







FacehuggerMember194 XPMay-03-2017 6:09 AM


"As for why fight a hostile and uncaring universe?
Same answer as The Question...

Why Not?"

Yes indeed! One of the things I love about Ridley's films is their love for the individual. Even if the individual's trials end in tragedy (GLADIATOR, Janek's fate in PROMETHEUS), there is nonetheless a feeling of ultimate victory. His most empathetic characters are those who have undergone the worst situations--Roy Batty is a slave, Mark Watney is left behind on Mars and reduced to farming potatoes in human soil. One gets the sense that a character's ultimate success is merely fleeting (when we see Ripley asleep at the end of ALIEN, do we really think she's safe? She's still alone, adrift in space). In a weird way, I feel that this fleetingness makes his characters' successes all the more poignant.

That is an interesting theory that your husband is suggesting! I rather like the idea that Universes are able to spawn new Universes. I've encountered a similar theory in Lee Smolin's book, The Life of the Cosmos--only he proposes that Universes "reproduce" via the collapse of black holes, and a process similar to natural selection acts upon them as it does on living beings (at least on this planet). However, he proposes that "selection" acts upon the Laws of Physics that arise in each new Universe; in a nutshell, unstable physical laws cause new Universes to "die" (and therefore do not develop their own black holes that would give rise to more Universes) while stable physical laws allow Universes to develop galaxies, planets, black holes--and thus more Universes. *Note: It's been a while since I read his book, and I'm probably forgetting a lot of stuff.*

Does your husband think the new white-hole spawned Universes are similar or different to the Universe that spawned it? Would he agree with Smolin's theory or disagree with it? What is a "white hole" event? (I have not encountered the term). Has he published any articles on his theory? I'd love to read them! (Sorry for all the questions, but I'm a bit of a science nerd).


FacehuggerMember225 XPMay-03-2017 6:18 AM

INCREDIBLE TOPIC!! If I could upvote this twice I would. 

I'm actually reading Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad right now, and I can see how his works heavily tie into Ridley's filmography.

What's the story, MUTHUR?


FacehuggerMember194 XPMay-03-2017 6:48 AM

Thanks, HappyXeno!

Please let me know how Lord Jim is! I haven't read it yet, although it is on my list of books I'd like to read...


FacehuggerMember225 XPMay-03-2017 2:31 PM

I'm only on chapter 6, but I've picked up this quote, "...he had a damnable trick of making you feel small, nothing but by the way he said 'Good Morning'."

Sounds like the superiority David strives for.

What's the story, MUTHUR?


FacehuggerMember119 XPMay-03-2017 5:33 PM

Cosmic horror bro.  H.P. Lovecraft and what not.  Quite possibly the scariest type of horror, IMO.  Nothing scarier than constantly being reminded that your existence is pointless.  


PraetorianMember2861 XPMay-03-2017 5:58 PM


Total agreement regarding how R. Scott approaches the Individual vs The Universe. Gladiator, is definitely one of my fave films for that exact reason! Bladerunner and The Martian are right up there also for the same reasons, but Gladiator, says it so KNOW he's going to find only death when he loses his family, and he embraces that tragedy, but Uses it, turns it against the Universe, in a way.

Also, the academy-award level of over-acting by the Tiger he 'kills' is just damned funny, sorry, but it is. :D

Hubby's theory works co-incidentally with Smolin's, I think. (Hubby's away right now, so I can't ask him), but the two theories seem to present two faces of the same 'coin' as it were, to me anyways.
The reason is that a White-Hole event is the opposite end of a Black Hole, IF it gets massive enough, if not, they're just immense sink-holes. Matter/Energy get sucked in, crushed, some if it evaporates due to Hawking Radiation, the rest erupts as the new 'Big Bang' origin point of brand-new virginal-fresh energy/mass for a new Universe in our Background Ontological Template or if massive enough, another one which ties into Alternate Dimensional Reality theory and Mathematics.

His view of the Other Universes (Staying outside the idea of Alternate Dimensional Reality) is that each would have it's own unique, distinct Quantum Signature and due to that, there'd likely be many small differences in the Laws of Physics that do not exist in others...a 'quantum fingerprint' if you will.
Thus similar, yes, but potentially VERY different in some, or all ways but there'd always be some essential and basic-level 'relative similarity' as the Universes exist in the same Background Ontological Template as he refers to it.

I hope that helped...I feel like I tossed my brain into a taffy-pull machine. :D






FacehuggerMember194 XPMay-03-2017 7:35 PM

Agreed, DirtWolf. Nothing is worse than knowing one's own insignificance. It's what makes ALIEN so terrifying. In my experience, it's unique in cinema; no other film that I have seen produces such an effect of pure dread-turning-to-fear on the viewer.

HappyXeno, good catch. Indeed David could pull that line off as Conrad wrote it. So could Ash, in retrospect.

Blackwinter-witch, yes, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of GLADIATOR. The inevitability of Death and the indifference of the Universe are brought directly to the viewer's attention via Proximo's dialogue:

"And when you die--and die you shall..."

"We mortals are but shadows and dust. Shadows and dust, Maximus!"

Proximo's always been my favorite character, even when I was too young to grasp the overall meaning of the film.

And thank you for clarification of your husband's theory! It does sound similar to Smolin's work, and I'd love to get my hands on anything your husband has published (or will publish--I'm assuming he's a professor or researcher). I've always favored the idea that our Big Bang isn't a random, unique occurrence; that Universes propagate themselves. Ah, if only I could be an omnipresent, omniscient being, and see it all unfold!

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