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Sunday, 24 June 2012
St John the Baptist and Prometheus
Today is the feast of St John the Baptist, one of only three days in the Catholic calendar given over to celebrating the birth of someone. It also marks the occasion of the national day in Quebec. St John the Baptist, the last prophet, bridged the Old and New Testaments with his preaching of the coming of Christ, and the full immersion in the river Jordan. I last night saw Prometheus, a well-made, often terrifying, and sometimes thoughtful, prequel to Alien, directed by Ridley Scott, with enough theology and myth in its subtext to raise Joseph Campbell from the dead. I note the grim humour in the naming of the infertile Christian heroine, Elizabeth, who is subject to an unwanted and horrific precursor pregnancy. Of course, the Baptist's mother's name was Elizabeth and she too was barren, until God made her pregnant. In the inverted, fallen world of the film, where men and robots play god to the destruction of many, the tentacular ur- creature that emerges from Elizabeth's union with the alien seed prefigures the final monstrous birth that arises at the end. There are intriguing unanswered questions about creation and replication - and what it means to be a maker and a God, as well as a destroyer and a human, in Prometheus - and it is interesting to see them shadowing allegorically the Bible stories, as well as Greek myth, in the writing of this complex picture.