Teaching Prometheus

As a Classical Civilisation teacher, I abhor nearly all of the recent slew of ‘based on’ films that lazily grab names and deeds from Greek myths and make an action-hero film out of them: Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (also the students say the book is better), and, most of all, The Immortals – a film that is now famous among my students due to the way that saying those two words makes my eyes roll skygod-wise. (We took some ex-students to see it. I think we really annoyed the rest of the cinema by laughing, really really hard. What utter nonsense. It reminded me more of those weird Boddingtons adverts from the 90s than any actual Greek myths.)

In a recent lesson, I wanted to prove that myths could be used intelligently to inform storytelling and the language of film by providing a subtext that enhanced the narrative. I used the example of Prometheus by Ridley Scott.

Now, Prometheus isn’t actually out yet, and won’t be until 8th June 2012. However, the film franchise of Alien, to which it is the prequel, already informs us of much that we need to know to understand what Prometheus might be about. Also, the Prometheus camp have created some really interesting viral advertising videos to accompany the trailer, all of which have the central theme of the myth of Prometheus at their center.

The powerpoint for the lesson is located here for download and perusal. It is meant to inspire discussion, and I’ve included my students’ responses. I’ve put the slides from the powerpoint below, although you’ll need the actual powerpoint for the links to the media (0r you can look them up yourself on youtube using the handy visual cues.)

NOTE: my students have no clue about film, so the beginning about Alien is a bit didactic.

I own no copyright on the pictures used in this powerpoint, which are purely there for illustration of the ideas within.

Can you add to the discussion? Do you have any questions? I’d welcome comments…

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