There are a lot of reviews and discussion on the internet about Prometheus. I don’t want to duplicate those here — rather, my goal with this post is to focus on whether Prometheus should be considered a “Lovecraftian” movie.
After I watched it, one of the theater employees asked me if I liked it. I said yes, and then she told me that the reaction to the movie was about 50/50. Here’s why, in my opinion: It’s all about expectations.
If you go into the theater expecting a prequel to Alien and Aliens, with lots of monsters running around killing people, you’re going to be disappointed. That’s not what the movie is about.
If, however, you are looking for a philosophical movie that asks questions about where we come from and why we are here, you should enjoy Prometheus very much. Throw in some awesome special effects, some very creepy scenes and great action, and it gets even better.
But I’m writing this for a Lovecraftian audience. So the question before us is, “Is Prometheus a Lovecraftian movie?”
In my opinion, yes. Absolutely.
(Some minor spoilers follow the trailer.)
What makes Prometheus Lovecraftian? The fact that it deals with several Lovecraftian themes: Discovering where we come from and why we are here, and being horrified by the answer. Asking ourselves if there is a god, if there is a creator, or not. Another Lovecraftian theme is the horrifying consequences of the pursuit of forbidden knowledge… and Prometheus delivers on that theme in spades.
To some, finding out that there is no god would be mind-shattering. But what about finding out that there is a creator… and he doesn’t like us very much? What if you met “God”, and he told you that you and your fellow humans were basically just a failed experiment… one he’s decided to terminate?
Now that’s horror. And that’s definitely Lovecraftian horror.
After searching all his life for answers, Peter Weyland finally meets “God”, aka the “Engineers”, and instead of welcoming him, they bludgeon and kill him. With his dying breath he gasps, “There really is nothing.” In other words, not only is there not a caring God up there, waiting to welcome you to Heaven when you die, but he actively despises what he has created: You.
Shades of Lovecraftian gods, especially the ones in At the Mountains of Madness.
When Weyland says “there is nothing”, his creation, David the android, replies: “I know.” He’s already given it a lot of thought. In a previous discussion with Holloway (one of the scientists), David asks him what he hopes to achieve by trying to find the Engineers:
Holloway: What we hoped to achieve, was to meet our makers. To get answers. Why they even made us in the first place.
David: Why do you think your people made me?
Holloway: We made you because we could.
David: Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you, to hear the same thing from your creator?
Prometheus doesn’t give easy answers; in fact, it gives very few answers at all, much like many of Lovecraft’s stories. But I think the main “lesson” of Prometheus is this: There may be no meaning to life, and that hurts — it hurts deeply. BUT… as David repeats after watching Lawrence from Arabia, maybe the trick is not minding that it hurts. There may be no ingrained meaning to life, but life can still have meaning — the meaning that we give it.
Thoughts? Comment below!
You may be interested to know that Earth has received a terrifying transmission from the Prometheus:
Scientific American: Ridley Scott’s Prometheus Examines the Roots of Alien‘s Mythology