Sunday, August 12, 2012

Be not afraid!, or Love alone is credible

Rubens, Saturn devouring his son (1636).
     "At least a few moments of such pure enjoyment were necessary to alleviate the otherwise crushing culmulative horror that is finally the ground note of Prometheus:  the horror of time, of the future, of the past, of the infinite spaces within which nothing exists but what is to be feared.  The universe wants nothing from us except perhaps to feed on us; when the apparent last survivor of the gargantuan ancestors is unwisely roused from an aeons-long sleep, what he has in mind turns out to be far removed from the imparting of cosmic wisdom.  The likable presence of Idris Elba and his concertina is about all that anchors Prometheus to any recollection of the pleasures of earthly life, especially since the only trace of sexual tenderness in the film leads directly to embryonic horrorcosmic rape at the chromosomal levelto be remedied by a blood-spattered automated C-section that comes close to the demented comedy of a Rube Goldberg contraption. 
     "What is at issue, it seems, is not the horror of alien life but of life in any form; not the existence of monsters but the monstrousness of existing.  The dread that rises to the surface here hints at a culture variously afraid of sex, afraid of Darwin, afraid of DNA, afraid of aliensafraid no matter which way it looks, forward or backwardand finding its way at last, as a last resort, to a planet of death.  After that, the only destination left is the Great Unknown:  or more precisely (and perhaps we have this to look forward to as a sequel) the home planet of the Manichaean demiurges who engineered us randomly and then just as randomly set out to eradicate us."

     Geoffrey O'Brien on Prometheus, directed by Ridley Scott (which I haven't seen).  "The day of the android," The New York review of books 59, no. 13 (August 16, 2012):  6 (4, 6).

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