Okay, don’t read this if you haven’t seen the film yet if you intend to. There will undoubtedly be spoilers.
I’ve seen Prometheus twice this week and wouldn’t mind seeing it a third time. This week. I’m listening to the soundtrack as I write this.
I’m still trying to figure out why it has attached itself to me (as it were) as it has.
It’s not that I saw deep spiritual implications and allegories unfolding before me, as was true, for instance, of The Way. And its first viewing was a bit hard at times. I always have a hard time with suspense and gore in films. I typically have to move or stand. This one had me looking away several times. I enjoyed the first two Alien films and I love Ridley Scott’s work. But I don’t think that’s the attachment.
Perhaps its my own journey through chemoland. I sense points of personal convergence. I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and feel you are literally looking at alien bodies squirming to the surface. And let’s just say I won’t likely complain about any past or future surgical procedures after seeing the the one that Dr. Shaw had to manage for herself. I couldn’t watch that scene all the way through either time. But a more fitting metaphor and picture for the removal of a cancerous tumor I can’t imagine. Seeing the embryonic, ultimate face-hugging alien drawn out through that incision made a visceral connection for me. To see her “cut the cord” – more like yank the cord – to it and then to have it dangling above her, squirming and slithering. Yeah, I totally get that. Then to see Shaw get out, to see her “excellent survival instincts” in running down that hall bloody and hurting and weak and wonderfully strong and determined. I totally get that too. Watching most of that scene the second time was less disturbing and actually more empowering, more healing for me. Maybe not the best prescription for other cancer patients, or for anyone who is particularly normal. I suppose it depends on the extent to which your primary survival mechanism is found in more escapist fare. I find that sinking into my condition and facing, embracing its darker aspects is actually pivotal to coming out on the other side – to sliding out of the bloodied tube.
And then there is the wonderful centerpiece of Shaw’s cross. I noticed the cross more the second time through. Brought tears to my eyes.The repeated question of why she still wears it if the Engineers we have found are our Makers. Her repeated, determined insistence on wearing it. I love that picture. In a culture that so often perceives the cross as a dead end for inquiry and exploration, the ultimate explorer insists on wearing it, seeing no incongruity in that, but rather seeing it as actually fitting better, as making more sense. At least to her. A cross not by which to conquer, but to understand, to see.
Another point of convergence. For so many the cross represents a totalist system offering certitudes of past formulations which are jealously guarded, resisting any exploration that might lead to life-giving bursts of newness that would potentially challenge and unravel those certainties leading us to new horizons of terra firma that were right there the whole time. The cross emblazoned on my soul is the portal to another world, a passageway to a still far too undiscovered country. We still seem to be standing on a distant shore, waving at shadows. Or worse, huddled in ejected church “lifeboats” resting on desolate landscapes, entertained by holograms of more pleasant scenery.
The cross of Christ is the launching pad for the ultimate quest and questions. It beckons us to explore, to journey, to probe, to search, to seek, to knock, to ask. Although when confronted with heaps of alien corpses and oozing black goo, wisdom would seem to tell us to explore in other directions. Quickly.
Shoot. Now I want to go see it again.