UPDATE: The video originally featured at the link above and the main reason for my posting has since been removed due to copyright violations, but you can view the video here: Happy Birthday, David.
It is difficult to express how excited I am for Ridley Scott’s upcoming return to the science fiction genre with his newest film, Prometheus. I have been thoroughly obsessed with Scott’s Blade Runner since my father introduced me to it when I was young, and Alien, to which Prometheus is a prequel, is another one of my favorite films of all time. Scott knows how to do science fiction right, putting the people front-and-center and the science fiction in the world around those people. He has a knack for making characters extremely relatable regardless of the bizarre circumstances in which they are embroiled. This short film exploring the android character of “David” in Prometheus is a perfect testament to Scott’s prowess.
Michael Fassbender (fulfilling a role similar to the one played by John Hurt in the original Alien) is excellent as he manages to embody our worst fears about the future of artificial intelligence and robotics (he can replace humanity, blend in with the workforce) while simultaneously engendering intense emotional attachment (the tear is amazing). And of course all of this is undercut by the tension of uncertainty regarding whether David’s words are genuine or programmed for effect (which, in a “meta” sense, they are). Fassbender is such a good actor that despite the fact that David seems to be saying all the right things, there is a vague menace beneath the glossy presentation, especially when he explains “I can carry out directives my human counterparts might find distressing… or unethical.” This is emphasized by the creepy skulls over either of his shoulders in the interview shots. That kind of ambiguity is exactly why I love science fiction. Within a realm of unlimited possibilities, even the most simple pieces of dialogue can become fascinating mysteries.
This video reminds me a great deal of the malevolent humor of Portal and if this short is any indication of the quality of the final product, I have little doubt Prometheus will easily take a place among my most beloved films. I can’t wait.