Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Great Betrayal: Prometheus & the Death Of the Father

The big opener this weekend is Ridley Scott's Prometheus, a sci-fi thriller about a group of scientists who go to another universe, following a "map" of planets from ancient pictograms and discover an alien race there. There are readers who have expressed that they would rather go into a film knowing what to look for and so they don't mind the spoilers; if you feel that your hard-earned $10 for the ticket should include the surprise, then, as usual, please stop reading, watch the film and then come back because I can't talk about the film without giving it away. Having said that, the aliens they discover have a DNA matching our own, meaning, they "engineered" us then left us to grow. The team discover that the aliens were using the "mapped" planet (from the ancient pictograms) as an outpost only to develop a weapon of massive destruction destined for earth. The question is, Why would they create us only to destroy us?
Prometheus was the god who gave mankind fire; in punishment, the gods ordered that he suffer eternally, bound to a rock, with an eagle coming everyday to eat out his liver that would grow back over night so he would have to endure the torment again the next day. Why the liver? The liver is what detoxifies the body (I know, you are saying, what does a god need a liver for, but if the god didn't need it, he wouldn't have it; besides, the details are what give us the important nuggets of wisdom to understand what is really being said by the myth of Prometheus).  Like the liver, fire also detoxifies, purifying metals and refining them. Prometheus receiving the punishment of having his liver removed then, fits the price the gods felt they were paying for Prometheus' betrayal, i.e., fire was to the gods what the liver is to the body, necessary for life. Why? As Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) says in his TED 2023 video (below), "Fire was man's first technology," and the invention of the wheel didn't happen until years later. With fire, the distinction between man and beast became more prominent because man could control and harness fire, but the animals couldn't, and that marked a step of independence away from the gods; when the scientific expedition is getting ready to go out onto the alien planet, that "small step for mankind" is mentioned, and that's how it all ties in. There is, however, a further dimension: Christ as a Prometheus figure. Like Prometheus, Christ came down from heaven and gave us the gift of fire, the Fire of the Holy Spirit, not to distance us from the gods and servitude to them, but to bring us closer to God in love and partnership for the world's salvation (those who stubbornly refused to be reconciled). Whereas Prometheus suffered only in his liver, Christ suffered throughout His whole Body (Prometheus only gave humanity one gift, Christ made His whole Self a Gift). This is imperative to understand this situation because we won't know who the aliens are in the film if we don't understand the vehicle which takes the expedition to the planet, Prometheus.
But that's not really the question because if we know who the aliens are, we know their motivations. The key to understanding who the aliens are lies in the two significant actions the film attributes to them: an act of self-destruction which introduced the alien DNA into the water stream, from which we are led to believe, all life came and the creation of (living alien) weapons of massive self-destruction which turned on the alien creators who made them and killed nearly all of them even as the alien creators were going to do to the earth. From these two small facts, we can piece together the larger, more interesting picture.
This is the waterfall from the opening sequence and the alien space ship is the sky just hovering above the falls. From the left side of the screen, a gray-cloaked (very medieval looking) figure appears and looks up at the ship as the massive waves of water rush down the fall.
Before we go forth into the fray, there are ambiguous points in the film, meant to mirror the viewer so the viewer will engage their own beliefs and, undoubtedly, you are getting my beliefs when you read this, as always. MY HOPE IS, as always, that aspects I point out, connections I make, will not dominate you into thinking I am right and there is no other way of understanding the film, RATHER, aid you in your own engagement with the film so you can reflect on what you believe and what your experience was. There are two reasons I am saying this: first, I need to remind viewers that I remember this is the point of the blog because, while I think it all the time, in every blog, I don't always take the time to state this; secondly, those who disagree with me will inevitably stop reading the post at the point they disagree with me and leave angry comments so I hope to pre-empt that.
Now, onward.
This is the back of the "Sacrifice Engineer" as the film credits him, one of the aliens who drinks a liquid which divides up his body that falls into the water and carries his DNA into becoming humanity. In this shot, the Sacrifice Engineer has drank the potion and watches as death starts to take hold of him. For a Christian, this scene communicates everything we need to know: the monk's robe is the robe of an irreligious, not a monk, and the gray of the robe isn't the gray of penance but of death (like the embers of fire dying, or a corpse turning ashen in the decaying process). The "water fall" means the fall from grace because water is the sacrament of baptism which cleanses us from original sin and the fall of water is the plummet into darkness which sin caused in us, losing the light of God so we could use our free wills to chose God and chose the Life He intended for us, but the devil engineered sin to kill us. The DNA of these aliens is like the "wounds" upon our souls left by Original Sin, even after Baptism has washed away the Sin itself, because we keep falling into Sin even though we have the power to turn away from it, and that's what each character in the film demonstrates.
The film opens with shots of beautiful and ancient landscapes, like the Highlands of Scotland and Iceland. Then, at the enormous waterfall (pictured above) we see a gray-cloaked figure looking up at the space ship. Who is he? The "Sacrifice Engineer" is the "source" of human DNA, as we watch him quickly succumb to death and fall into the waters, his body disintegrating and entering into the water from where biologists hold humanity evolved. We've seen a figure in a gray cloak before, specifically, Gandalf the Gray in The Lord Of the Rings; why gray, which later became white? Gray is the color of the pilgrim, the color of penance because it's the color of ashes (from dust you came, to dust you return). The design of the cloak is quite medieval (so much so that I thought he was a monk and the era was the Dark Ages in which the film started, not pre-history). This Sacrifice Engineer gives humanity his body as the seed from which we spring; or does he?
Noomi Rapace plays Dr. Elizabeth Shaw who finds the pictograms of the universe map where the aliens are located. An interesting question you and your friends might debate is: why would the engineer aliens leave a map to their deport planet where they were creating the weapons of mass destruction to launch at the earth? Are the pictograms Drs. Shaw and Holloway discover really "invitations" to come seeking out their own doom? Are they star maps? Or is it possible they came from another place? As mentioned, the dig where the audience meets up with Drs. Shaw and Holloway is on the Isle of Sky in Scotland. What other alien film takes us to Scotland? Battleship (the post-credits scene shows three school boys discovering an alien pod and, with the help of Angus who wears a religious medal around his neck as Elizabeth Shaw wears a cross around hers, the Scots open the pod to discover an alien. Why would two alien films, Battleship and Prometheus, incorporate Scotland into their stories? Possibly because of the "invasions" of England into Scotland and the alien-ness of the English wanting to take over their neighbors (I am very pro-English and very Scottish so I am just making historical reflections on what happened).
This qualifies as one of five "birth" scenes in the film; those who have all ready seen the film will automatically think of the alien "birth" of Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her surgery to remove the alien "fetus" from her body which then takes a life of its own; there is also Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) when David (Michael Fassbender) deposits an alien "form" (it looks like a common tick but is the "seed" which was the weapons the engineer-aliens created to use against us) into Charlie's drink and it takes over Charlie (the same can be said of Milburn but since they are so similar I am counting them as one here although I will be discussing Milburn and Fifield further below). Then there is another birth in the film: the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Prometheus space ship, the "vehicle" which takes the expedition to the alien planet. We are informed by Meredith Vickers that the Prometheus expedition cost $1 trillion dollars, financed completely by the Weyland Corporation, and that monetary investment means control over the expedition. What does all this really mean? We know from our own expedition exploring science fiction films of the 1950s that there is never a trip into outer space that doesn't really symbolize a deeper look into the darker, unexplored regions of our own psychology, our minds and our souls (consider, for example, the great film Forbidden Planet with Leslie Nielson and Walter Pidgeon).  The incredible technological advances the space craft Prometheus has is literally the vehicle for our own understanding of our limitations and our purpose: is our purpose only to advance technologically as far and as fast as possible? What does our creation of androids nearly indistinguishable from ourselves say about ourselves and what relationship does that create between ourselves and our God (the discussion which David has with Holloway just before infecting him is extremely revelatory, but the conversation David has with Elizabeth towards the end is even more important). In other words, the extra-ordinary cost (the trillion dollars) of our world today has effected our relationship with our own selves and each other; are we mis-remembering what really happened in the creation story, with the devil's fall from grace and his dragging Adam and Eve down with him? Why do we remember what we do, and forgot other things? Is the true cost of our technological development that we have become more like David, an android, and like Charlie, disrespectful of our creators, than like Elizabeth, who chooses to believe and so be saved from the death awaiting the others?
After the crew has awaken, being kept alive by David the robot tending to them for over two years, it's December 21, 2093, it's Christmas as Captain Janek (Idris Elba) says while decorating a Christmas tree. It's not the only time the tree, the symbol of Christ's birth to redeem humanity, is in the situation taking place. Also important is the cross which Elizabeth wears, her father's cross, or, her Father's Cross. David removes it from her just before he tells her she's pregnant, removing it because he tells her it could be contaminated. When Elizabeth shows up to "save" David, the first thing she asks him is, "Where's my cross?" and he replies that it's in the pouch of his utility belt (his body being separated from his head).  By means of that symbol Cross, the birth and death of Jesus are present throughout the film and not just as swear words (which does happen). Then there is the fifth birth, that of David the robot. This clip isn't in Prometheus, but was released ahead to provide additional information for us before seeing the film:
Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) is the "creator" of David and makes a pre-recorded appearance aboard the Prometheus to explain why David is with him, stating David is the closest thing to a son he ever had, but David can't know gratitude because he doesn't have a soul. We discover later that Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is Weyland's daughter he doesn't seem to acknowledge or at least is very fond of. So where do all these disparate ends bring us?
The identity of the aliens.
Dr. Charlie Holloway, left, and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, right, just after an introduction by Peter Weyland that was pre-recorded. They have been asleep two years, just been woken up and approached the alien planet; the two explain to the scientific expedition what they are doing and why. Charlie uses a silver Rubik's cube as a presentation monitor for the images behind him. Just as one must twist and turn a Rubik's cube to "solve the puzzle," so we must twist and turn the information the film provides us until we can solve the puzzle, and the more information we take into consideration, the more likely we are to arrive at a cohesive theory of what we are supposed to understand. For example, what are we supposed to understand about "Holloway?" As Charlie says after Weylan's hologram introduction, that's the first time he's ever had to follow a ghost. Just as Weyland is a "hologram" so, too is "holo-way,": because he makes himself so unlikeable, and he only cares about the material discovery of the alien engineers and not the more philosophical issues (as Elizabeth does) Charlie is "hollow" like the holograms in the film. Yet there's another angle we can use to understand Charlie's character: Natalee Holloway, the high school graduate who's death is tied to Joran van der Sloot. Van der Sloot's lack of respect towards Holloway's family and his disregard for Holloway's death, leads us to speculate on how that relationship reflects--if at all--Charlie's relationship with Elizabeth, specifically, their sexual interaction even though they are not married.  Some may think this puritanical of me, however, please remember, it's the film itself which incorporates the Christmas tree and the cross, reminding all viewers of the Law of the Father which includes not committing adultery (and I will demonstrate this further below in my discussion of individual characters). So, Prometheus invokes the terrible tragedy of Natalee Holloway and Joran van der Sloot's treatment of her and the law through Charlie's character, which we need to take into consideration when examining his death and what happens to him.
Because we know that in the universe the film has created there is a Christian God, people have souls and because, as informed viewers of cinematic history, we know that expeditions into outer space always always always means expeditions into inner space (i.e., into our own selves like Elizabeth Shaw's archaeology dig isn't digging into the past but digging deeper within ourselves), the aliens who "created us" and now want to destroy us can be nothing else but: the devil. Like horror films such as The Cabin In the Woods, if we understand why and how each person's death correlates to purpose and plot of the film, as well as the physical characteristics of the aliens, this is the most reasonable explanation (although, surprisingly, most films prefer to talk about the devil while leaving God in the sidelines; Prometheus, however, reverses that trend). 
This is an engineer alien in one of their suits. Before they go out, David quotes the film Lawrence Of Arabia, which he had been watching earlier: "There is nothing in the desert." Why would he say this? Because even a non-human can recognize that what they are about to discover is deep within themselves. This alien is really a mirror-image of our own being, but the darkest part of our being, and some of the crew of the expedition resemble it more than others. The alien is both the devil and the tendency within us to do use our free will to do things that will destroy us, rather than use our free will towards giving us genuine life.
How can I back this up?
The devil was the "engineer" of our fall from grace. The devil is the one who "gave us these bodies" because our bodies--animated by souls enslaved to the appetites of the flesh--are marked with the stains of Original Sin because of the devil creating us "in his image" as fallen, rather than in our original image as the children of God. This explains why, towards the end, when David--or at least the head of David--tells Elizabeth that "He's coming to get you" and she realizes the bald engineer alien is in Prometheus looking for her and what does she get to defend herself?
An axe, a wicked looking axe.
This is the only image I could find of an engineer alien outside of the suit. They are very tall, completely hairless, very white with large black eyes but mostly humanoid features.
Regrettably, I couldn't find an image of Elizabeth's axe, but there is a brief shot of it in the trailer (at 2:24) at the top of this post. It's odd, isn't it, that in the year 2093, she grabs an axe to defend herself?... Where else have we seen an axe this movie season? Snow White and the Huntsman. I made the comment that it seemed odd that a Huntsman would have an axe as his primary weapon, since he's a hunter and not a lumberjack (I mean, who "axes" a deer?), but given the role of the apple in the "death" of Snow White, the axe in both films creates a correlation with the Tree of Knowledge from which the Forbidden Fruit came from and the attempt to cut down the tree (as we see Abraham Lincoln doing in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter). What is the "Forbidden Fruit" in Prometheus? It's different for each person.
The "snake-like" creature, alien off-spring traveling through the black liquid substance on the ground that attacks Milburn (in the trailer at the top, a brief glimpse of this is at 1:40).  When the alien initially approaches, the two "flaps" are closed, making it look like a tall penis. Sorry, it does. Then the flaps come open and the "mouth" of the alien opens making it look like a vagina. Sorry, it does. The alien then wraps itself around Milburn's arm, tightening its grip on him, breaking his arm, squirting its acidic blood onto Fifield's space helmet, tearing a hole into Milburn's suit and working its way up into his helmet where it enters his body through his mouth, killing him. Why does the alien break his arm? That's the same hand of friendship which Milburn extended to Fifield and Fifield rejected. Fifield's harshness in responding shows how he has become like the rocks he loves (hardened) but also how weak and "easily broken" Milburn is with other people (just a little pressure and he breaks, being easily dominated by others). Milburn's lack of conviction makes him "hollow" like Holloway and Fifield.
Let's start with the biologist, Milburn. Two prominent characteristics stand out about him: one, he made an overture of friendship to the geologist Fifield (whom we shall discuss next) and secondly, he's a "Darwinist" (a term he uses himself, questioning Elizabeth and Charlie when they propose that aliens are the engineers of humanity, not one of biology's several possible models of evolution). When the alien off spring (pictured just above) approaches him, he talks to it like it's a woman; why? Milburn's fault (his sin) is that, like Fifield and even Charlie Holloway, he has made biology "his love," the "female" alien is his mate and the expression of his own masculinity; this fault, of not recognizing the soul in people (because, as an evolutionist, he denies the existence of God and the soul) and seeing all as merely biological functions. Let's round this out with discussion about Fifield.
Fifield, the geologist and there is definitely something alien about him; who tattoos their head? His hostility towards everyone is perhaps from the fact that he has only two loves: money (the sole reason why he's on the expedition) and rocks. Please note in this shot, when we first see him, that he's wearing yellow, which is also the color of the alien offspring's blood that melts his helmet shield. The acidity with which Fifield responds to Milburn's offer of friendship is deflected back onto him (the shield of his helmet also can symbolize the shield he puts up between himself and everyone else and that melting onto his face--the prime factor of our identity--means that's how we remember him, as being plastic and acidic, not human). Now we can better understand the tattoos on his head: they are a mess of hieroglyphs, forming a maze and because his head has been shaved there, it "exposes" (the shaved head) and illustrates (the pictures) what is inside his head. Just as he called the pictograms Charlie and Elizabeth found "maps," so that tattoo is a "map" of what's inside Fifield's head.
Because Fifield is a geologist, he decides to save himself when he gets concerned about what's going to happen to them in the alien temple/dome because there aren't any rocks there, so he's not needed. Perhaps the most telling characteristic about Fifield is when he tries to cut the alien offspring from Milburn's arm and it squirts that yellow acidic blood onto his space helmet, melting it onto his face. Yellow is the color of dignity, because it's the color of gold which is a sign of royalty however, yellow is also the color of a coward because the coward has failed to live up to their dignity in some way. In leaving the expedition when they get scared, Milburn and Fifield  get lost, and are literally "lost" and can't be saved; likewise, the "alien offspring" is the offspring of their alien tendencies in the way they treat other human beings, i.e., like they are not human beings, so they lose their own humanity.
Janek tries to get Charlie to wait until the next day to go into the dome they find but Charlie exclaims, "It's Christmas and I want to open my presents!" and that reflects Charlie's attitude about having sex with Elizabeth: they are not married, but he wants what he wants. When Charlie foolishly removes his helmet it's like he's "lost his head" (there are many examples of this in the film) and that resembles the giant head they find in the dome/temple/alien compound: it's a head without a body, a mind without a soul  (more on this below).
We'll discuss David in just a moment, but let's consider why Charlie is the one David infects with the alien substance: because, in terms of the film, Charlie is all ready infected. When David comes bringing another bottle of alcohol to Charlie after he has drank several, Charlie's verbal abuse of the android is alien to how we are supposed to treat others and Charlie wouldn't treat David that way if Charlie wasn't treating himself that way. Charlie's relationship to David reflects the creator-created relationship which Charlie has with God. It's was a brilliant stroke of Ridley Scott indeed to wait until Charlie was all ready infected to reveal the tattoo of the cross on his upper, right arm: the arms symbolize strength, and Charlie should have gotten his strength from God's love for him (instead of the snide comments he makes to David about creators and the engineer aliens) and because he doesn't recognize the dignity of his birth as a child of God, Charlie, then, becomes a vessel of the alien to feed off him because he has no way of defending himself from it. Proof: Charlie first realizes "some thing's wrong" when he looks into his eyes; eyes symbolize our souls and our capacity for wisdom, but what does Charlie "see" when he looks within himself? A worm.
"Big things have small beginnings," David says, examining the tiny seed or tick on his finger from the alien ampoule. When the expedition first enters the alien dome/compound, Elizabeth tells David and everyone "not to touch anything" and David goes ahead and touches the dark liquid oozing from the ampoules (the vase or bullet like capsules in which are the biological weapons of mass destruction designed by the engineers to be used on earth to destroy humanity). When David gives this "life form" to Charlie, David, in a way, "fathers" the new Charlie, making an act of creation David wouldn't be capable of on his own, so this "life form" is like David's own seed. 
As Charlie looks into the mirror, he's also looking into the mirror of his own soul, his eyes, and he sees, "A worm and no man," (as the Psalms say). I think we can say, though, that Charlie does "live up to the cross" because he ultimately sacrifices himself for the sake of the rest of the crew. When Elizabeth realizes how sick Charlie has become, Meredith Vickers refuses to allow him back on board (we'll discuss this below); Charlie tells her to kill him because he is willing to lay down his life for the safety of the others, just as Christ laid down his life. This isn't a fail-proof interpretation, but contributing to it is the way Charlie dies: by fire. Again, it's 2093 and they are still using flame throwers to defend themselves (like Elizabeth using the axe)? The fire, as discussed above under the post's first image (the film poster) is the purifying quality of the fire being used so Charlie has died a worthy death, which brings up to Captain Janek.
Meredith Vickers and Captain Janek in Prometheus.
Janek doesn't have a cross tattoo like Charlie, but he is the one who decorated the Christmas tree and plays Christmas music when Vickers enters. It's an accordion which belonged to Stephen Stills upon which Janek first plays Christmas music then proposes sex to Vickers and presumably has sex with her in her room ten minutes later (more on this below), singing the chords of the famous song Love the One You're With before going, insinuating that since he can't be with someone he truly loves, he will fake being in love with Vickers. (During this scene, Janek has been wrapped in a plaid blanket, invoking the Scottish Highlands seen earlier where Elizabeth Shaw discovered the "writing on the wall," suggesting that, like Scotland itself, Janek's space of the ship's control room has been invaded by an "alien" [Vickers] and that might be why he asks Vickers if she's a robot, there's "something alien" about her, but then she invites Janek to her space--her room--to invade her--have sex with her). The instrument symbolizes the "instrument" of Janek's body, and how "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," and he goes from the love of the Holy Spirit (the Christmas music) to the sexual lust of popular culture (Love the One You're With).  Like Charlie being redeemed by his sacrifice, so, too, Janek sacrifices himself in a burst of flames (the explosion of the two ships crashing) and lays down his life for the greater good of humanity. 
Making the decision to crash the Prometheus into the alien ship before it can get to earth to launch an attack and destroy the world. Vickers in the background refuses to let him do it, but he decides to and she anxiously escapes the ship in an escape pod, only to be crushed moments later by the crashed alien ship. Janek and his two co-pilots, Chance and Ravel, stay with him and "go down with the ship." Chance is perhaps named for Peter Sellers' famous portrayal of an idiot who stumbles into politics in Being There and Ravel may be named for French composer Maurice Ravel. I don't have time to follow up on these leads, but if someone else can, or correct me, I would appreciate it!
Now, what about Meredith Vickers?
She dies, and specifically, she dies a death which Elizabeth Shaw escapes (being crushed by the alien ship after it crashes). There's a joke in horror films that if a woman has to run for her life, she's going to trip and fall, especially if there's nothing there to cause her to trip, and then she's going to die. This is exactly what happens to Meredith. Meredith escapes the Prometheus so she has no redeeming/self-sacrificing qualities about her. That Elizabeth is also running from the oncoming alien ship, falls, but rolls out of the way, is an exercising of the film maker's decision, to show that Meredith isn't doomed by them, but doomed by her own actions. The question then is: what was Meredith's downfall (what caused her to trip and fall from which she couldn't pull herself up in time to escape destruction)? Having sex with Janek. Again, they aren't married, it's Christmas, and sexual activity outside of marriage is a mortal sin. Just as Janek, Elizabeth and Charlie all have Christian ties so, too, does Meredith: the father.
Her hair is actually quite important to understanding her character's "state of mind," because hair symbolizes our thoughts, so what is done with hair, in art, reveals what a character is thinking or how they are thinking. Meredith always wears hair pulled back (strict discipline of her thoughts) and that keeping her hair back might also be a means of stripping herself of femininity (making herself sterile the way Elizabeth is naturally sterile).  After she's been with Janek, however, her hair is down. As events quickly escalate, she pulls her hair back again. Why is it such a big deal that Vickers and Janek have sex? Vickers tells everyone, "It's my job to make sure you do yours," and when someone should have been in the control room, Milburn and Fifield were being attacked by the aliens (so Vickers wasn't doing her job and wasn't letting Janek do his). Not only could they have possibly helped them (well, probably not) but they wouldn't have gone out searching the next day, giving David time to find the alien still in stasis and sending the alien ship off. That's the second reason why it's such a big deal, Vickers was responsible for one thing and she didn't do it. The first reason it's such a big deal is because, again, it's a mortal sin.
Vickers has a relationship with her father, but it's obviously a bad one. Instead of seeking out the real relationship with her Heavenly Father, she lets her rotten relationship with her father rot her. Now, what about Peter Weyland? We think he's dead, until David has discovered the engineer alien still in stasis and awakens Peter from hyper sleep to go see the engineer alien and ask him to give Peter life, help him cheat death. Please watch this clip again, with the ear listening for the hubris of Peter, not the Apostle of Christ, but the Apostle of technology who says, "We are the gods now."
In the Garden of Eden, the devil tempted Eve with the idea of becoming like God; when Jesus came down, he gave us the means to become like God, through Love and ridding ourselves of sin. Peter Weyland was too good for that: he wants the immortality, without the taste of death, and without ridding himself of sin. Peter has become so smart, he's stupid. Just as he failed to cultivate a real relationship with his real daughter, so he made a god out of an idol just as he made a "son" out of a robot. Now, we can begin to understand the large humanoid face they find when they enter the alien compound (pictured below).
It's humanoid without being human. I couldn't find an image of this, however, when we see Weyland alive for the first time, he's extremely old and wears a white, muslin gown and sandals and David washes his feet, not as Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples, but the inverse of that, because Weyland doesn't want to serve, but to be served, the opposite of Christ. In this way, we can see Weyland as a party to the devil because Weyland so thoroughly rejects the teachings of Christ, wanting to be a god, not the child of God, and not being an obedient child himself, he rejects his own child and creates a child with no free will of its own because Weyland doesn't know how to love because he rejects the source of Love, God.
Does this remind you of anything? It reminds me of the gold idol in Indiana Jones and the Raiders Of the Lost Ark. It's human without being human, like David. If you look closely at the cheeks in the picture above, there are symbols which David punches like buttons and things start to happen, endangering the expedition. Like all idols, it knows how to "press our buttons" to get our free will to do what it's sin-bent nature will lead it to do (just like the philosophy of free will in The Cabin In the Woods). Peter Weyland was too good to worship God, but he's willing to worship this alien that, instead of dying for him, kills him, which is the nature of all idols: we worship it because we think it means life to us (materialism, having a good time, etc.) but it kills us, whereas Christianity efficiently kills us every single day--if we are doing it right--because our selfishness has to die, our lack of charity has to die, our attachment to the world has to die, because those are things that kill us by keeping us away from God. That's why each person on the Prometheus embraced, and why all of them but Elizabeth--"the true believer"--doesn't die.
Which finally brings us to David.
Does he look like a communist in this?
Why would humanity need to create robots indistinguishable from ourselves? This is a good question that each of us should think over, and perhaps for Prometheus, the answer comes from the David Video above: humans don't always want to do what is distressing or unethical, but that doesn't mean that someone doesn't want someone who will do those things. But then there is the obvious question: why did Peter name David, "David?"
Why does David say, "Doesn't everyone want their parents to die?" and Elizabeth responds, "I didn't." David sees a "parent" has a programmer, someone who makes the decisions for you (as many non-Christians see God) but Elizabeth sees love, validation, bonding and nurturing.
When a film sites one film within its story, the chances are, it's going to site several as a means of expanding its ability to interact with the audience. For example, "David" is also the name of the android played by Haley Joel Osmet in Steven Spielberg's 2001 science fiction film A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Just as David wasn't a real boy in that, like Pinocchio, so David in Prometheus isn't a real man, or a real son, or a real scientist.  There is another reason why he's named "David," and that continues the religious thread connecting all the characters.
The red light comes from the "pups," the mapping robots who, just as David isn't really human, so the "pups" aren't real dogs. Ironically, they belong to Fifield, the geologist, the one who gets lost--even though he has the mapping pups--and can't get out of the alien compound, and we should remember that, because he's lost "allegorically" and the film uses the physical state of being lost to communicate that to us. Whereas the pups show the expedition where to go and light the way, so to speak, David turns off his signal from Vickers when she wants to see what he sees, but he decides he doesn't want her to see after all.
In the Old Testament, King David was a proto-type of Jesus the Christ, the promised Messiah, but David wasn't the Messiah. Likewise, David 8 (his technical name) is a prototype of future robots. What's wrong with David? He "loses his head," literally, when he awakens the stasis engineer alien, Elizabeth knows that it's not a good idea, but David does it anyway, just as he does so many things in the film that a better human wouldn't, or would they? In the scene when the medic Ford dies, we have to ask, why? What does she do to really warrant death? How much is the medical industry a vehicle ("Ford" the cars) for people wanting to deny death more and more because of advances in technology instead of facing reality--the way Peter Weyland won't--that we are all going to die? Ford was also willing, it appears, to allow the alien fetus within Elizabeth to stay in her while they traveled back home and then "deal with it" later, the way David was going to do, disregarding her humanity and treating her like a science experiment.
One of the first things we see David do is watch Lawrence Of Arabia (on the list of AFI's Top 100 Movies Of All Time), specifically the scene when Lawrence puts out the match between his fingers; why? What does this reference contribute to our knowledge about David? One, I think David is as out of place among humans as Lawrence was among the Arabs; secondly, the way David practices saying the line (which we see Peter Weyland also saying in the TED 2023 video) suggests that not only did Weyland program David to "like" the film, but there is something "natural" in our cultivation of the artificial within us (David forming a facade, like when he tells Elizabeth, "I didn't think you had it in you, oh, sorry, poor choice of words," referring to her alien fetus).
As Elizabeth is in hyper-sleep, David watches her dreams, gathering information about her life and especially her father. This is an example of David not realizing the intimacy and privacy of our personal thoughts, to him, her dreams are just data, information, facts, but to Elizabeth, it's her emotions, her memories.
Now, why does David "infect" Charlie with the alien virus?
When David asks Charlie if he would do anything to get his answers, I don't think Charlie had being infected in mind, but not having any free will of his own, all of David's answers are absolute, so he considers a human's answers to be absolute, not recognizing the nuances of the personality and the soul. Why does David remove Elizabeth's cross? Perhaps it's because he's afraid her religious conscience will get in the way of decisions she needs to make and, again, not realizing that our beliefs are arrived at by our free will (Elizabeth, like her father, chooses to believe) David probably thinks that removing the cross is like removing a piece of hardware from his brain, or just re-programing her, the way some political leaders in this country thing about Catholics.
It's difficult to tell in this shot because her arm is in the way, but she's got blood all over her because she has just had an abdominal surgery to remove the three month old fetus growing inside her from having had intercourse with Charlie the night before. David wants to put her in stasis so she can be experimented upon when they return but Elizabeth "wants it out!" Does this conflict with her Christian belief?
Does Elizabeth have an abortion?
This is a tricky question, and each person will answer it differently, however, I am going to say no. Towards the end, when both Vickers and Elizabeth are running away from the crashed alien ship ready to crush them, Elizabeth falls, but rolls out of the way and is safe; then, after crushing Vickers, it falls backward onto Elizabeth and you think she's dead, but there's a slight curvature in the landscape where she got caught and she's safe. Why does she survive when Vickers falls? I think it's rather like Dana in The Cabin In the Woods, she suffers and suffers and suffers, but Elizabeth becomes stronger in her suffering because of her faith, unlike Charlie who is worn down by it. Elizabeth's "fall" when she's running is probably the "fall from grace" caused by intercourse with Charlie, but I say that also because of something that happens earlier to Elizabeth.
One of many "losing your head" themes in the film: a storm has come in this shot and Elizabeth has brought back a decapitated alien head to examine it and she "loses it" in the storm; David gets his head ripped off, Charlie takes his helmet off to breathe in the alien atmosphere, and the Fifield and Milburn find a pile of alien corpses who have "lost their heads," being eaten or destroyed by the biological weapons of mass destruction they were developing to use on us. Why this theme? Is it because by losing our faith, we have lost our heads?  Does anyone in the film really exhibit good sense or judgment about anything? When we become "talking heads" like David, separated from the "body of the church" and the "body of faith," then we have to be reunited to it.
When they wake up from the hyper-sleep, Elizabeth is the only one throwing up, her body in shock. Her vomiting is a sign that Elizabeth can do what the others cannot, apparently: reject what should not be taken in. The pro-life arguments against abortion are that a baby has a soul at the moment of conception and, since God is the author of the soul, life cannot be extinguished, that child has a destiny in the order of God's creation. The alien inside Elizabeth is alien, it does not have a soul. It is just like an animal, like a tape worm, for example, but not human, hence, it's not an abortion, but a vital procedure to save her life. The illustration of "getting it out" of her is that it does save her life, in that moment and (pictured below) when the Engineer Alien comes to kill Elizabeth, she unleashes the "squid" face sucker monster onto him and it saves her again but only for the moment as we see a "new alien" being born after entering through the mouth of the engineer alien.
The long legs coming out is the super-fast growing squid thing which Elizabeth removed from inside her and that bald thing on its back behind Elizabeth being consumed is the Engineer Alien that survived the ships crashing and came to kill Elizabeth and David warned her about it. Elizabeth gets away (this is the scene where she had the axe) and goes to find David.
I hope that if you don't go to catch this at the theater, you will at least rent it; this would be a great film to watch with a date or a group of friends because it's going to stir up a lot of discussion, in a good way! (FYI, if I am going to be watching a film with someone I like to know if there is nudity, and there is not; there is the start of Elizabeth and Charlie having sex, then it breaks away, and only the invitation from Vickers to Janek to come to her room; there is foul language, especially the taking of the Lord's name in vain, but probably to illustrate that those people know the name of Jesus, but will not use it to pray for help). Have we become so smart that we're stupid? Are the weapons of mass destruction intended to destroy us symbolic of all the troubles and woes that the devil causes us in life, that actually brings us closer to God rather than tearing us away from Him, and that's how we revolt against the devil in whose image we spend most of our lives? The film will challenge you in what you believe and know, but it wants you to believe because it shows you the consequences awaiting everyone if you don't, and for that, I applaud Mr. Ridley Scott for doing something I never imagined him doing, and certainly other film makers don't!

Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner