In Prometheus, David doesn't like people

Outpost in the cinema seat

Off to the other side of the effects of affect: Ridley Scott's 3-D blockbuster “Prometheus - Dark Signs” propagates the emotional numbness of the viewer

By Jan Süselbeck

Prometheus, the creator of mankind, does not fare well in the ancient legend. Because he brought fire to people without permission, the immortal has to suffer agony for thousands of years, forged on a rock, with an eagle pecking his liver out of his body every day. Mind you, without anesthesia.

That the at the same time callous and cinema enthusiastic Android David (Michael Fassbender) in Ridley Scott's "Alien" -Prequel “Prometheus - Dark Signs” at the beginning of the film elated a quote from the classic movie “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), which says that the trick is not to care about the pain, is not only a pretty good one sarcastic gag. Even the viewer who ponders the joy of fearfulness is lounging in his cinema chair full of anticipation: He knows very well that a lot of blood will flow in the next two hours and that a whole series of people will have to die in agony , while reassuringly nothing can happen to him. Looking at the sufferings of others seems to be a basic human need, and they enjoy it. Otherwise nobody would be so mad as to put the gigantic sum of 130 million dollars into the production of a film like “Prometheus”, in which that true “Pandora's box” opens up before the eyes of the recipient ancient myth already speaks.

In the "Alien" series it has always been slimy and extremely vicious monsters that broke out. Their seeds were initially transplanted orally into unconscious host bodies by spider-like large insects that crawled out of milky, oozing eggs that rose like calyxes and jumped into the faces of helpless victims at lightning speed. There, like a pregnancy, those sickle-headed killer animals matured in the human abdominal cavity, which after a relatively short time jumped out of the bodies of their hosts through the bursting abdominal wall and quickly grew into large killer reptiles outside the torn body of their 'uterus'.

In “Prometheus”, too, this species reappears at the very end. Before that, however, this time there are amphorae, reminiscent of urns or artillery projectiles, from which a blackish slime soup wells, the substance of which in turn forms the breeding ground for the emergence of sinister beings, which are reminiscent of albino snakes or mutated squids. They, too, want to get to and into the human body as quickly as possible in order to kill it immediately and sow new and even worse mischief in its carcass.

However, David's favorite quotation from "Lawrence of Arabia" has a different meaning in this film than just the self-reflective memory of the very own feeling and enjoyment of the science fiction, splatter and horror genres. “Prometheus” turns out to be a true spectator disciplining machine in 3-D, which seems to aim at anesthetizing compassion and at the same time numbing those somatic affects, the simulation of which the multidimensional form of perception of this further developed cinema technology tries to generate with such great aplomb .

It starts with the clichéd figure drawing of the characters who have to die in this film. Even types superficially designed as 'sympathizers' like Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall Green) appear here as rather pale, dumb fellows and gossips, so that the audience's pity for the spectacular deaths these people have to endure is within narrow limits holds. There is of course a method to this. The dramaturgical prevention of empathy can be studied particularly nicely in the first two alien victims, the geologist Fifield (Sean Harris) and the biologist Millburn (Rafe Spall). Both are afraid where the team spirit of the group of scientists in the film demands unconditional solidarity and courageous determination. Even more - they are cowardly and selfish, and that is exactly why they are of course the first to run into the arms of the monsters, whereby they act particularly stupid.

In a seemingly archaic, gigantic amphora hall on a distant moon, which the human expedition has reached in search of the origin of their species, Fifield and Millburn suddenly see themselves in the eerie semi-darkness in front of a whitish kind of cobra, which hesitantly emerges from the black slime The ground rises and they approach it less like scientists than like naive little children who want to love a dear little dachshund. What follows logically does not need to be described further here, as the reader is already introducing himself or will soon be curious to see it in the cinema.

However, Fifield is introduced beforehand as a particularly arrogant blasphemy, he seems unnecessarily aggressive, uncooperative towards his teammates and would rather not communicate with them in the first place: “I want to be here money earn and not have any conversations, you understand? ”he snapped at Millburn in one of the first scenes of the film. He looks extremely unhealthy, constantly hyperventilating like a pro-choleric in panic who has run out of cigars, and is characterized by his mere appearance for the average viewer as someone whom the average consumer prefers in his everyday life locked would see: He looks like a drug addict punk who, according to the reviewer's memory, is also a kind of Barcode has tattooed on his skull, so that he already appears as a mere number and as a 'victim' stamped on this drawing plane. As a spectator, one involuntarily and inappropriately thinks of the numbers tattooed on the arms of the Jewish victims in Auschwitz. This association also seems to be intended: Because on the dialogue level shortly before Fifield's ugly death in the face of a thousand-year-old pile of corpses of those 'Prometheus' aliens, whom the film introduces as the noble fathers of humanity, of the memory of theholocaust the speech. It would be critical to ask how the irritating idea actually came about in the script to give one of the first monster victims of the film conspicuous Jewish connotations and at the same time let it die as a character that is obviously special to the viewer unsympathetic should appear, which is why her death in turn almost as Laughing stock is working.

The dignified 'Prometheus' types, on the other hand, who themselves became victims of the evil aliens and who once provided their DNA as the original code for the evolution of mankind, as Scott's film suggests to us at the beginning, not only look strikingly like Skinheads, but with their marbled, translucent pale skin, they are recognizable as flawless, muscular representatives of the 'species' that are still seen today on US immigration forms Caucasian Race means to be able to denote. Let's call it by name: It should be pure Aryans act.

Why not even 'black' gods for a change? Well, as in the so-called "One Drop Rule", according to which people in the USA were considered to be 'black' until the second half of the 20th century if they had any 'black' ancestry, is also used in Scotts Prometheus film, the obsession of a 'contamination' of the blood of 'whites' by a single 'black' drop in the sense of the word is re-enacted: As a tacit experiment, David mixes a single such 'black drop' for the protagonist's friend, Charlie. from one of the sinister alien amphorae into the champagne. As a result, not only Charlie turns into a zombie with a blackish, putrid-looking and so soon afterwards degenerate Skin, but before you try to finish him off with a fire-thrower, he and his girlfriend also produce a being that was probably the inevitable result of National Socialism Racial disgrace would have understood. Fortunately, Hollywood has nothing to do with National Socialism, but has specifically fought against it in its history. But what, one wonders at this point all the more urgently, is Scott actually trying to tell us with his idea?

The heroine of the film, the believer Christian Elisabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), in any case, matures during the plot of the film into a truly brave lone fighter, whose self-anesthesia is to be taken literally. When the seafood-like tentacle creature that resulted from the last 'one-drop' sexual intercourse with Charlie grows frantically inside her, Shaw has to operate specially: It is the one that was carried out by hand abortion of an offspring that Shaw actually didn't think was possible because she believed herself to be 'sterile'. The 'unplanned' premature birth by caesarean section that follows in the film is therefore a wrong return of the miracle of Mary's conception - first, because Elisabeth Shaw is not a virgin, second, because her confinement is not at all 'immaculate', and third, because her 'son' is a messiah of a previously unknown kind. Incidentally, Shaw tries to get this scary creature right after it's born gas. After the drastic nature of what the viewer had to watch shortly before, this action also seems very welcome to him. However, as you can see in the end, it remains unsuccessful. Again, one is looking at the recent one Shoah-Association by the way, maybe even ask why exactly this Image of a, failing ‘liquidation of evil chose. Let us summarize the startling symbolic messages at the point briefly and soberly: Humanity comes from Aryans from while evil was begotten by 'racial disgrace'. This terrible womb mutates into one in the end Giant octopuswhich threatens to embrace the world and exterminate humanity. The attempt to gasify this giant octopus ‘, we should callous and satisfied watch, only to find in the end, horrified, that even a Gas chamber is not enough to finally destroy this danger to humanity.

While Shaw is ramming anesthetic injections into his stomach several times in the face of death, the viewer is allowed to watch in 3-D how busy robotic laser scalpels of the determined woman in a glass operating coffin are fully conscious and saber the abdominal wall in order to swiftly to lift a bloody pouch of the wriggling Sepia worm out of her uterus. So far, the camera perspective has actually been more from the Porn film Well-known affect and subjectivation strategy: She takes over the horrified perspective of the operated person and looks directly down on Shaw's upper body at the center of the most intimate organic processes, while the soundtrack confronts the groaning of the tortured and sees the beads of sweat glisten on her trembling skin.

When the automatic surgical machinery finally furiously grabs the actress' abdominal wall again, an audible murmur goes through the large Cineplex room, in which mostly overweight packs of people have gathered, who for the moment are at least briefly sucking on their huge cola. Pause for a liter cup. The audience breathes a sigh of relief: As if nothing had happened, the woman who had just been operated on on the open lower abdomen is allowed to squeeze out of the blood-splattered and smeared glass coffin under the increasingly violent wriggling alien fetus. Soon afterwards she puts on a skin-tight emergency suit again, not without having thrown in a handful of painkillers, breathing heavily. In that scene with the viewer, the android David may again think of his motto from "Lawrence of Arabia", when shortly after her self-operation he acknowledged Shaw, both appreciatively and laconically, with a "remarkable will to survive".

The woman as a soldier exercises an extreme form of body control in front of the amazed audience, which is all too familiar to the Ernst Jünger reader from his text “About pain” (1934): “There are obviously attitudes”, writes Jünger , “Which enable man to set himself apart in a very significant way from the space in which pain reigns as absolute ruler. This distinction is evident from the fact that the human being is able to treat the space through which he participates in the pain, that is, the body, as an object. This procedure, of course, presupposes a level of command from which the body can be viewed as an outpost that can be deployed and sacrificed in combat, so to speak, from a great distance. In this room, all measures are not aimed at escaping the pain, but rather to endure it. "

Ridley Scott is in the realm of such ultimately neo-fascist stagings of body control on the verge of blackout no stranger. Already in his first-person shooter aesthetic film "Black Hawk Down" (2001), which tries to 'overcome' the US trauma of the lost 'asymmetrical' war in Somalia in 1993 through an unprecedented riot staging of the street fight in Mogadishu , there is a comparable emergency operation on one of the well-trained US soldiers who determine the image of man on the part of the US troops. There, too, the camera is pointed right in the middle of the wound, and the blood splatters the viewer from the perspective of an assistant soldier, as it were right in the face.

It is noteworthy, however, that the viewer in “Prometheus - Dark Signs” is even more direct self With all currently available means of presentation in the cinema, namely 3-D technology, it is to be brought about to achieve this "command height" of pain ignorance over one's own spectator body at the same time. The goal of the emotionalization strategy is no longer just the fear of partial participation in the fate of strange characters, who are apparently no longer particularly worth pity and identification - but rather the conquest of the last "outpost" of self-anesthesia in the Cinema seats.

With all the pissed off that the clichéd film deservedly received in the press, this would, however, be a way of depicting violence whose future career should be pursued and analyzed with keen eyes and senses: The war, horror and pornography as a "body" - Once again, genre seems to be getting ready to test the final limits - and, surprisingly, at the same time, quite openly with propaganda heroic numbness to couple: "The trick is not to care about the pain."

We know that such changes in the representations of images of the body, friends and enemies, which result from such maxims and projections of the cold-tempered overcoming and defense against foreignness, can have a strong influence on the entire social dealings with feelings such as love, hate and pity meanwhile. Whether and how the described scenarios in Scott's new film have a concrete effect on the audience, however, would have to be determined in each individual case. In Hollywood, of course, one has such effects in view, and for emotion researchers there will certainly be more material for analysis here in the future - at the latest in the next Pre-Alien part, which is already foreseeable at the end of the film.

For the time being, a new level of representation conventions is emerging here for what Jan Philipp Reemtsma called “autotelian”, that is, body-destroying violence: it should be the same in the cinema self experienced in itself, and the body that is offered to us here to identify this heroic martyrdom brand self-made, which not least has something of a rape - the shape of the octopus fetus that has been operated on is also extremely good phallic Qualities - it is not just by chance that of a woman. Their bodies have always been the first battlefield of all wars anyway - and the central projection screen of male desire, especially in the cinema.

By the way, why the ritual cutting up and dismembering of women's bodies can become such a symbolic obsession, especially in extreme war situations, could already be read in the 19th century - in Heinrich von Kleist's “Hermannsschlacht” (1808).But this drama already uses this motif in the Bible as the 'book of books' - and Ridley Scott and his scriptwriters seem to have read that more than Kleist, according to the intrusive metaphors of the cross and saints in their new work to judge. But what happened in “Prometheus - Dark Signs” from the strong female character of the very first part of the Alien films, which Ridley Scott shot in 1979 and who was often received as a figure of feminist self-empowerment, with which the actress Sigourney Weaver became famous? One can say this much: The image of women that the current film is creating has changed - that of a person who in the end almost feels more like his own Body struggles as with outside threats. The bloodiest scene in the film is impressive evidence of this.

"Prometheus - Dark Signs". Directed by Ridley Scott. With Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and others, USA 2012, 124 min.

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