Janek's Law3,404 Views19 RepliesAdd A Reply
I wanted to post a few thoughts on Janek's philosophy and how it relates to the story in Prometheus, and beyond.
I think this character's contribution to the story is highly under-rated, simply because of his laid back attitude, content to stay out of the drama, until it was time to act.
If you look at all the other characters, and their motivations, and whatnot, there isn't a single one that stepped up to the plate like he did. His act of valor actually saved the whole human race, as a matter of fact.
And the interaction between him and Shaw was also a key point in the movie, IMHO. When Shaw is about to go back out, Janek lays it all out.
"It's a military installation, making WMD's; it got out, the end".
"Don't you want to know what they have to say"?
"But I'm not going to allow any of that stuff back on board".
"See that you don't".
Janek is a little taken aback by Shaw's last comment. They both realize what that means.
Regardless of what these crazy people are looking for, on this bumped-up mission, the bottom line is this crap can't spill back on earth.
This is a lesson in and of itself, although I think it went under the radar with the live engineer and all. In the end, it really doesn't matter what all these other races did or are doing. Who created us , who created them, etc. At some point you have to take a look at what is the cost of all this stuff, the forbidden knowledge perhaps, and maybe walk away before you suffer serious consequences. Like zenos n ****.
So yeah, raise on up for Janek. Cheers mate.
Totally agree, Diz!
The only thing i'd add on Janek is that due to the production, and in particular, some of the editing choices and poor dialogue; the scope of his actions almost seems a little out of character and a slightly jarring scene in the movie, to me. Added to that the almost nonchalant actions of his co-pilots and the scene is somewhat 'underplayed'. Shame! Basically, we weren't really given the time/opportunity to develop 'feelings' for Janek and the crew so their heroics seem almost confusing rather than awe inspiring (that's my take anyways).
That said, in the 'ALIEN Universe' terms, yes I really liked his character and on repeat watchings of the film more subtleties emerge. Idris is also a very good actor (as was the whole cast of Prom) and I feel that more could have been done to utilise their skills.
Another scene in Prom that doesn't seem to get enough attention is the Engineer killing Weyland with David's head!
Think about it . . . the richest most powerful man (or one of) in the world (think Rupert Murdoch x 1000!) discovers not just an alien race, but very likely our creators, on an alien world. This was discovered due to what we interpreted as star maps left by their race 1000's of years prior.
This 'creator' on discovering PW and fellow humans then uses PW's own 'son'/creation to kill him.
I mean, in the universe of ALIEN, this would be a staggering turn of events. It would perhaps change the whole worlds' outlook and science/society, in time.
Perhaps then this is why 'The Company' appear to be very secretive and calculated when it comes to anything Xeno/goo related. How much, if anything, was known about the Prometheus mission by people back on Earth? I'm guessing not a lot!
To be fair, most posters on here seem to have their own theories as to the possible implications of this scene but still, what we witness in is simply staggering!
To me, it suggests that upon seeing we have created AI/life in our image the Engineer is repulsed and staggered at our/PW's selfishness and audacity. Perhaps there is a synchronicity here with the fall of the Engineers and their desire to 'evolve' mankind further . . .
DS: Good point. Out of all the peeps to put up for the first contact with engineers, we have this tool pushing himself to the front of the line, even though Shaw makes a good effort to by-pass him and ask the more important questions.
And yeah, ol' Pete getting clocked with David's head. Yeah that's pretty epic. And the symbolism there. Humanity destroyed by it's creation.
So yeah, look at our reception by the engineers. As many have commented, it was less than stellar, eh? Some thought would we meet a benevolent race with open arms. If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop on by. But as it turns out, the lone engineer was pretty pissed off about it.
And this is where Janek comes in. At some point, someone has to say: enough, and pull the plug on the mission, before there are horrible consequences. Everyone else was so invested in it, they couldn't step clear. This is the contribution of Janek and crew to the mission.
And yeah, you could wander if Shaw had taken the lead on the first contact; would things have turned out differently?
But then again, I kinda agree with your assessment; I think things work out the way they do for good reasons. The engineers fell from grace; we had no business talking directly to them. Due to our curiosity, and/or PW's twisted agenda, we very easily could have ended our whole race. Which would've been ironic if in fact their failure to destroy us 2,000 years ago was due to some outside intervention.
Janek is actually the moral anchor of the story a bit little Maximus in Gladiator. No politics no complications no vain glorious journey. He makes Vickers look wooden I am quite sure as a hard wired man he was curious about Vickers rather than "interested".
But like most military his more nuanced side is there it is just in check. It comes out with Elizabeth when he gives the audience the narrative and is arguably better in the cut scene with Vickers.
A little like the millions who died in the first world war he suspects this whole enterprise is flawed but when faced with some thing to really respond to he shows all the magnificence of the fallen.
@ Deep space
When I discussed the symbolism of David being responsible for Weyland's death four years ago the "where the zeno crowd" accused me of over intellectualising. In the context of the cut scene with the dialogue its completely on the "trillions of dollars".
MJ: I think you can be considered vindicated at this point. I think that's exactly what Ridley is trying to say here; the comparsion between the engineers falling from grace, and possibly being done in by their creation (us), and PW, as the representative of human arrogance, being killed by his own creation. Even when it wishes you a good journey!
On Janek, yeah, he is my man here, but despite my obvious lack of objectivity concerning military valor, yeah, you have to look at HIS absolute objectivity here, as you said.
Everyone else is off on their hobby-horses, doing lord know what, while he quietly sits back and watches it all, with amused detachment.
Until he doesn't.
And that's the "Forbidden Knowledge" angle. Are they thing's we were never meant to know? And if we do push out and look for them, will it end very badly for us?
@MJ I would agree with Diz's point, and Ati :)
I think it's fair though to accept that different people will want different things from films.
For me, and probably other posters here - above included, these films, especially ALIEN, created a tantalising glimpse into another world!
I find thinking about how these ideas and insights we've seen fit together a great way to pass the time, and get into a more imaginative/thoughtful space. Again, for me, certain films and directors seem to engage this more than others, Ridley and Prom being a case in point!
I don't really think that trying to see the links that are discussed is over intellectualising at all, on the contrary, it's most likely a complete waste of time ;)
Janek is one of the few good characters in Prometheus. Maybe I am wrong here but he seems to be the character that is most down to earth. While the other ones are going on and on about aliens and evolution he is like “I don't care I just fly the ship and I just got to stop them from getting away from here” he is the only person that seems to be down to earth so to speak and that is one of the reason why he works as a character.
Deep space: As far as the other pilots I don't really think that they added a lot to the story. When the were flying towards the Engineers ship in the end and it went the way it went I though “that was well done” but I never connected with them emotionally or what ever to say because they were all so bad developed as characters. Some people say that the prisoners in Alien 3 were too similar and not worth a lot but at least you could see that they had personal relations and that they developed as characters. Most of the characters in Prometheus were not well developed so their deaths didn't mean a lot including Milburn and Fifiled that were acting like idiots.
As far as Weyland I didn't really care about him. To me he was just a crazy man with an ego personality so I didn't care that he died. It annoys me that they didn't explain the dialogue between Weyland and the Engineer, that really sucks especially since it would have explained a lot more about Weyland because I have seen clips where they explain what the dialogue means. Who came up with the dumb idea to not have sub-titles? To make things worse I saw a clip where Weyland had a TED talk about advancing humanity's understanding and what not, a TED talk is what it was called if I am not mistaken. His motivation would have been so much clearer if they would have keep that scene in (although maybe in a shorter sequence).
Diz: Shaw is crazy so that would have been worse if she would have had the lead. Remember that she thought that it was an invitation without proof. She was also the one that said no weapons and she was also the one that said that the Engineers made us, without anything to back it up. Bottom line: Shaw is crazy and sucks.
Michelle: I just think that Vickers was in general unlikable I never felt sorry when she died.
T_D: Point taken Shaw is flawed, but she manages to abort an alien creature in her, kill an engineer, and then make a deal with David and leave the planet. You could only hope she would evolve from all of this before her deal with David does her in.
DS: Good point. Different folks want different things from movies. But no need for them to bust on one another, like the static MJ got.
MJ: I think Prometheus is much more fascinating than Alien, Aliens. Although we can't escape the creature as being central to the story. But we don't have to revel in all the blood and gore either. We could just as easily point our finger at that crowd, with much more justification, IMHO.
I apologise for not responding to those who responded to my earlier remarks, I do not have a notification response on so have to remember where I have been.
I have no difficulty with individuals having different taste but what makes Prometheus interesting is the kind of criticism it garners maybe about taste but a good deal of it is the consequence of a lack of investment. That of course is the consequence of Lindelof he is, to use Katherine Waterson's phrase, asking us to give ourselves permission to engage and not simply sit there passively.
I am older than many here and I come from a generation that were taught to analyse text and find its meaning whether Shakespeare or Hardy.
So the layering that is going on in Prom, the visual clues, the thematic use of characters is fascinating to me and its all wrapped in the most gorgeous visuals and curious world building.
Alien and Aliens were essentially visceral experiences but the Assembly cut of A 3 is much more a study of incarceration and a slow pot boiler that examines inhibited sexuality and spiritual reformism. Indeed there are a couple of male bonding relationships which I would have liked to be taken even further and further Alienate Ripley.
It also set a 3rd act challenge for A. C. which the other two do not. It is not about survival it is about redemption which nearly all find, set against the late arriving real villain not Ox Zeno but W-T.
Thanks again for your remarks.
Thanks again for you sterling analysis of these things. I was mostly sleeping through my college classes, including Western Lit. Except for that time I read "The Miller's Tale" in class and broke out in tears. I was laughing so hard I was shaking trying to keep quiet.
It's nice to see Janek getting some love. I thought his character was one of the better ones on the crew. He kept a cool head, and when it was time to do or die, he and his flight crew saved the humanity with their actions. I often wonder if their act just delayed humans getting the ax, or if there were other Engineers observing from some listening post somewhere and are currently reassessing on whether humanity is worth keeping for a while longer.
Your point about the Engineers is a good one. Lindelof indicated that the Engineers had given up on mankind at the time of the LV223 breakout. What do they think now? At the time Damon made that point Paradise was an active Engineer society in the conversations between Ridley and Damon, Elizabeth was going to get one heck of a shock when she arrived.
Now of course the Covenant, and probably the Juggernaut with "Big Idea" David and "technically alive" Shaw arrive after a "disaster'. In other words "someone" has decided that the Engineers behaviour and genetic manipulation experiments need corralling. If this is what I describe as the hierarchy then "they" have not lost faith yet with mankind. Indeed they maybe watching on considering all the machinations expressed by Weyland and his descendent company and decided there is enough "Good" in mankind expressed by the crew of "Nostromo' and "Sularco" and in particular Ripley that they should let them run on.
What maybe worrying the hierarchy is the creation of A I who in the form of David represents the wrong doing of the Engineers. Maybe in the third instalment they will put a stop to David's curiosity and with his new found big idea make him a victim of the experimentation begun with the Engineers and continued with him.
Who knows from that David may gain redemption through the realisation like Janek that this has gotta be stopped like the Space Jockey, like Janek,like Shaw, like Ripley.
You know I just love these discussions. At the risk of sounding like a complete barbarian, if I had been able to discuss these works in a western lit class, I would have been totally engaged versus dozing in place.
I have gained much more insight if not enlightenment from here, than my mis-spent college years.
These themes of falling from grace, and redemption really "sing" to me in this format, from Ridley's works, rather than from the classics, set in poetic verse, which I found hard to comprehend.
Thanks to all, especially MJ and BD; DS and T_D. And to HJ for her funny irreverence (Oh damn).
I have watched all four Alien series movies this last fortnight having acquired AQ 6 pack Blu Ray for a ridiculous £11 !
What comes over very strongly is that A 3 in its assembly cut is a very important addition to the arc we are discussing. For Ripley to sacrifice herself to bring to an end the consequences of the Engineer's meddling was entirely right. A R served up as Kitsch is entertaining but not to be taken seriously no more seriously than AVP.
I say this because A 5 with a second reboot of Ripley's ending goes against not only the grand themes set out in Prometheus but if you listen to much of the commentary surrounding A 3 all that the larger story had to tell. If she survives A 5 with Dwayne Hicks to give her a "satisfactory ending" it will for me be unsatisfactory and simply place Fox's mirky hands in the till.
Listening to the commentaries the producers did not want A R so how can they want A 5. I really think that the criticism of putting right the killing off of Newt and Hicks is a smoke screen. Miss Weaver spoke elegantly about why that was the right decision as the ALIEN of the movie 3 and I now buy into it.
You know I had entirely dismissed A:3 but I will now re-examine it. Especially this new cut you guys have been talking about.
Couldn't have said that better myself! It's a genuine pleasure my good man :)
To All: To echo Diz's words - thank you, your ideas and posts/threads really do get me engaged and I love the childlike imaginings - they do us good, I'm sure! :)
@MJ - I can see why some may have been a 'little disparaging' of your ideas and theories/analysis (I didn't/haven't seen those threads, I don't think) but for what it's worth yours and BD's, amongst notable others also, insights and analysis have really opened up my eyes and imagination to these films - you enhance the artistry! Diz is bang on! Please don't stop :)
Oh, just wanted to say on a completely different topic that yesterday I became a father to a beautiful, bouncing, healthy wee laddie :) What joy! I hope to be able to introduce him to these films at some point, as my Dad did with me, and hopefully his mind will learn to look more deeply at the world and be appreciative of the art and beauty all around - ahhh, I'm gushing :)
Congratulations ! I am traveling to the North of England tomorrow to celebrate the christening of my grand daughter who at just under two is more feisty than Ripley !!
By the way thank you for your witness on the deeper more spirited observations. I am far to old to be worried about what others think, other than on matters of maintaining etiquette on line, I just recall elsewhere when Prom was getting a slamming it was noticeable that in those conversations the more nuanced reactions were absent from those who found the movie confusing and unsurprisingly they were the ones that considered the film did not warrant extra effort on the part of the recipient which is a self full filing observation. If you do not see it you do not see it.
The more I look at the performance of Janek the more I am impressed by his facial reactions to the scene with the Engineer and are a lesson in physical acting.
Indeed I do not think Prom falls down on the big themes or its ability to leave us to make our own judgements, it is just one or two character arcs which had a late entrant to the story do not blend to the whole as they might. Milburn should have had the build from the deleted scene and Fifield should have suggested the Xeno connection and in less open surroundings, to introduce the more casual audience to the notion that the Engineer may be considered an existential threat but that the consequences of his hatred has very specific consequences for mankind almost as if Fifield shows us before you can create you must destroy in a highly personal way. If this guy gets away with his payload there will be 6 billion Fifield's. Effect followed by cause in this instance.
We often refer to A and A's as being visceral the threat is new and we are routing for the characters its a gut thing. In A 3 assembly and Prom the threat is either well known or differently expressed and we are not routing for the characters. In A3 there is a very powerful redemption counterbalanced with the brutality of W-Y ambitions in Prom the two survivors are left in a place of suspension for themselves for the story and with each other. For that to work you have to be thrilled by the lack of clarity and thats hard for an audience. Where Prom and A 3 are alike is that nobody is likeable, until Janek's sacrifice and in Ripley's case the overwhelming feeling is rather like the effect of someone eventually dieing of cancer its a release, again hardly echoing the simple reactions to the end of the first two films.
DS: Congrats my man!
To all: I shall be in Old Blighty again for the winter Fan Dance: perhaps we can link up and and hoist one. I am usually lurking at the Wellington in Brecon, with a pint of Reverend James.