Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Love Of Angels.

What a terrible thing it would be to be loved by an angel. To be the center of affection and fascination for a thing born into adulthood, a creature that cannot summon an iota of empathy because it shares conciousness with no other living thing. A perfect being in a universe of unintended flaws with no grand design or goal in mind. I have been thinking about Aliens Covenant and some of the beautiful and disturbing ideas it toys with as the story plays out. Perhaps the moment in the movie which had the most dramatic effect on me was the sight of Elizabeth Shaw on that table in David's filthy workshop of creation (and Mary Shelley's haunting words have never resonated with me more.). It almost took me out of the movie I found it so shocking and that is not just down to her eviscerated state but the almost low key reveal of her terrible situation. Elizabeth Shaw was one of my favorite things about the journey Ridley Scott is taking us on with the Prometheus/Alien saga. A brilliant scientist, courageous and decent, a woman of faith who is not afraid to look for answers, despite the real possibility that answers to those questions could impact upon her ability to believe in a benign creator. I had seen the short Crossing, saw how Elizabeth had repaired the damaged David and how the pair had bonded and set out across the vast gulfs of space to seek the home-world of the Promethean engineers. It was a beautifully shot little piece that even echoed the Alien refrain and suggested that Elizabeth's goodness and compassion had altered David's programming for the better. Two friends, both alien to each other, learning to like each other, in search of answers to the biggest questions of all. There is something almost Miltonian about the scene where Elizabeth repairs David's body, in that she too is blind and her mind is on higher things. Not seeing the base nature of the thing in front of her.
            The sight of her grave filled me with sadness.
            The sight of her body filled me with horror.
             I have seen sketches of Jack The Rippers victims and even photographs of the worst of them, poor Mary Kelly. Elizabeth Shaw's body looked as though it had fallen beneath the hand of the Ripper. Butchered, robbed of vitality, robbed of even the dignity that comes with death. It was a jarring shocking sight in a film loaded with jump scares and elemental body horror. Prometheus had wrong footed me and surprised me as a science fiction film that was not afraid to ask some primal questions. covenant wrong footed and surprised me by not being the film I expected it to be. Sure, this time it came cloaked in what one would expect from an alien movie but what I was not expecting was a meditation on the dreams of a fallen angel.David, the fallen favorite of his creator plays creative games of his own. Possibly using the only person he had ever held in high regard. Tearing and disassembling and rewriting the imperative to survive at all costs,"not minding that it hurts." It was one of the most credible studies in evil I have ever seen in a film. Yes, it is quite possible that David did care for Doctor Shaw, that he would even weep at her loss, while not hesitating for a moment to use her person as a template for atrocity. The tears of a fallen angel, how they would burn.
Walter is a mirror to David's distorted passions. a calm reasonable entity who understands his purpose, who does not rebel against his established programming. Heaven had its rebels, those who would not bow before the forces for order, who sought to rebel and embraced chaos and reaped the whirlwind. They prefer the certainty of ferocity uncomplicated by notions of morality. There was poetry in their fall but words could not prevent nor slow their descent into the abyss.
              Where a face hugger sits coiled and waiting.