Thursday, June 21, 2012

We Need to Talk about David

{This article has Spoilers} Michael Fassbender played the android David in Prometheus in such a way that makes you secretly root for him, but also not completely trust him and be creeped out by him a bit. Perhaps it was his childlike curiosity in regards to his surroundings and people around him that made him appear innocent and enduring. And then there were the moments when he went into sociopath mode and didn't care about a human's life, but instead, seeking the truth to life under the directions of Weyland Corporation, by any means necessary.

So does that really make David bad or untrustworthy? We can presume that the two years in solitude that he had on Prometheus while all the humans were in cryosleep, was precious time that he had all to himself, his thoughts, his studies, and the one pleasure he obsessed over (watching Lawrence of Arabia hundreds of times, and imitating Peter O'Toole as Lawrence). All was well for David until everyone woke up and reminded him that he wasn't one of them, he was not human, and he did not have a soul.

Or did he? I think David was more than just an android, I believe that solitude time allowed him to evolve and develop human characteristics that he was not originally programmed to exhibit, naturally. Some comments about David throughout the Internet mentioned what a manipulative bastard David was, and because he went about things on his own volition, he had something within him that drove him to succeed in his goals. The only person he seemed curious about and liked was Elizabeth Shaw... but as we all know, his allegiance to her only went so far at one point. David has a thankless role amongst the Prometheus crew, and when David saved Dr. Shaw's life in that storm on LV_223, that was the one and only time someone said 'Thank you' to him. Prior to that, he watched Dr. Shaw's dreams... something very intrusive and stalkery which he could have kept to himself, but he actually told her, very matter of fact that that's what he did.

Throughout the movie, David's curiosities and unknown hidden agendas made him appear very unpredictable and suspicious. We did not see or hear where he was receiving direction and to what degree the execution of those directives were. So that's when I came to the conclusion that at some point, David became more self-aware of who/what he was and in that transition, he evolved and became more sarcastic and defensive (albeit in a calm and polite manner) when his human counterparts mocked or dismissed him. He was designed to blend in perfectly as a human being, the only tale tell sign that something was different about him from the others was that he did not breathe. When Halloway pointed that out to him, David seamlessly told him that he has to look like humans do because "you people would feel more comfortable" in having androids in their presence. David felt he was superior to humans and I think he had an arrogance and pride about himself in not being exactly like them, because they are so weak, petty, and emotional, etc.

David knew how to handle everything with care and precision.
In all, David was my favorite character in Prometheus... and that's not necessarily because Michael played him. I liked Bishop the best out of everyone in Aliens. I think most people tend to favor the person or thing they can most empathize with, and considering the characters of Prometheus, save Dr. Shaw, I think it's pretty easy to pick a favorite from the crew.

What are your thoughts about David? Did you like him? Was he a manipulative little robot shit that you like but still don't trust? At the end of the film, we get the impression that for the first time in David's existence, he desperately needed someones help to save his life from being abandoned in the most pathetic state. Even in his broken condition, he could have lived for a long time, and even he didn't deserve that fate in that circumstance.

Prometheus is doing well at North American and foreign box offices, so it's safe to say that millions more people, through their empathy or dislike of David, are becoming familiar with the incredible actor who brought him to life!

Michael striking a sexy male supermodel pose!


Amy said...

Love this post it's everything that needed to be said. The first time I saw the movie I left confused about the shaw and David relationship. He was fascinated with Shaw but then suddenly turned. Like the scene with Holloway at the pool table the medical scene with shaw after Holloway dies is my most fave. The sinister persona David shows there is amazing. The way he handles the insults is tops certainly my fave scenes were the comebacks at Holloway.

Enescu Sînziana said...

I kinda have a love-hate relantionship towards David. First of all, David is one of the best characters in the movie but also to me seeemed to be a asshole. I did think David liked Swan but he also hurted her the most. I think he knew she would get pregnant and just didn't care about her and was curious about the being inside of her. Also when she asks for his help with the circumcision he refuses her.
I am sorry if some word are wrong or my grammar is bad but english is not my first language.

émilie said...

As I'm a little obsessed, I've already seen the movie 5 times :D It reminds me when I was younger, I watched Lynch's Lost Highway at least 10 times because I was obsessed with the idea of deciphering its hidden meaning.I believe David's motivations cannot be entirely understood. Prometheus is a philosophical movie disguised as an action film. That's why so many people didn't like it and found it was too "slow" and not scary enough.David is a metaphysical character, which gives depth to the movie. Free will, desire for all-might. What makes us human: the mind? the emotions? the ability to laugh? What is a soul? He's a fascinating character and Scott deserves to be applauded, as well as Michael who embodies mystery and complexity like no other actor. I love the scene at the end when Weyland says: "There's nothing" (or something like that) and David answers "I know".

Simone said...

Emilie, I'm impressed that you have been able to see it so many times already! I will see if for a third time in the coming week because based on cool discussions recently, there are a few more things I need to see from the film.

But what you said about the film being philosophical and too slow for the average audience person, is true. Also, people took to heart too much all the 'prequel' stuff that the MEDIA said that it would be. Ridley Scott and the actors were very hesitant to call it a prequel, and they are right.

I'm very excited to see if a sequel will allow us to go on Elizabeth and David's journey to find the answers she really wants to know.

Anonymous said...

David is most the interasting character in the movie. it's easy to see that the director and the script writers favor him also.he (and maybe Shaw) is the most developed character. when i saw the movie, i never thought for once that he didnt have emotions,but he needed to hide them. the best clue for that is the quote from his favorite movie: "the trick is... not minding that it hurts"... meaning not minding when his emotions are hurt, becuase he cant show the humans he has them. also, i saw on the net a lot of people speculating he had a "crush" on Shaw, i dont think it was the romantic type crush, but more out of curiosity and admiration.and she was the only one who treated him with kind and like a human.

Simone said...

^Oh Anon, brillian! I never made that connection about 'The trick is not minding that it hurts'... was in regards to his emotions!

See! this is what this kind of discussion was designed for - to be further enlightened about the character of David and understand how other viewers intrepret him.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Yea Simone,the most interesting discussions about Prometheus are the ones involving David :)))

pati said...

I love read about david
i saw the film and liked todo much
david is intelligent and i liked him
i spoke to my friends about this blog and always wrote something about the best actor : MICHAEL FASSBENDER

pati said...

His body is perfect !!!!!!!!!

Sidra said...

Great post Simone!

I liked David & thought he was so cool- until he turned bad.
But by the end I felt sorry for him.

What was unclear was why he turned- especially if he's an android with no emotions.
I guess that Guy Pearce's character (who was like a father to David) told him to infect Marshall-Green's character (and if so, the reason was unclear).

It's gonna be interesting with Elizabeth and David's journey. I can't wait to know more about the engineers especially!

On another note,
isn't it ironic MF's role in Prometheus was basically a servant and in 13 Years, he will be a master. I guess him serving in P will even out him mastering in 12!

Sidra said...

*I meant 12 Years the first time :)

Anonymous said...

David is a R.O.B.O.T

Therefore his feeling cannot be hurt. He has no malice because he is a robot.

His Programing is responsible for his behavior.

1.) Take care of the humans - So he tries to learn all about them by watching movies to learn to do, speak, act as they do. He focuses on Lawrence of Arabia for some reason. He invades their dreams. He probably has been watching sporting events as well, hence the basketball. He knows that the more human like he is, the less creeped out the humans will be. But since his model is still not the best his walk is still robotic and he hasn't learned to relax. See scene where the briefing is taking place. He is sitting up completely straight while the humans are relaxed.

2.) Weyland wants to extend his life at all costs. David is programed to help him with this. So David does all that is necessary to accomplish this goal. What we see as David being deceptive is nothing more than programming. I didn't realize this till I saw Weyland was still alive. He wanted to meet the engineers so that they could help him. Obviously we know how that went. I also think that David's dream invasions helped to understand what humans know about the engineers as well as learn about human behavior.

I loved David and Michael was awesome.

Simone said...

^ that is your O.P.I.N.I.O.N ;-)

The beauty of this thread is that everyone has their idea of what David is. To some of us, he's more than an android. Much more.


Dionne said...

I think David is more than an android... or shall I say he has developed his own set of "feelings" about things. For instance when Logan Marshall's character told him, "we built you because we can". And David responded back with something like "now wouldn't you be disappointed to hear that from your creator"? I felt like, David FELT disappointment. I know David say's he understands human emotion, although he can not feel them, but I'm thinking somewhere down the road he started to be able to feel.
Also his relationship with Shaw, I kind of felt like he liked her not just in a curious way, but something more. She is a scientist but she'a a believer... she's interesting to him. I'm interested to see how that will play out in the sequel.

marcia said...

@Émilie and @Simone LOL! I watched 3 times and was a bit ashamed to tell you guys!:D Lol! how silly of me! The first day i watched twice in a roll!I liked it very much and after the 2nd time i started to love it;)

Anonymous said...

From an interview with Ridley Scott:

U. W.: Is he similar to Ash, whose intentions were ambiguous to say the least?

R.S: No. He’s the antithesis of Ash. Very jolly and pleasant. He’s very sweet. He even says, ‘why did you make me?’Holloway [Logan Marshall Green] says, insensitively, ‘because we could’. So how would you feel if your maker said that about you? So, does he have feelings? You fucking bet he has feelings!

It's on the most heated discussion about the movie on the net, if David had feelings or not.

émilie said...

@Marcia: it's very odd, but I like it more and more! No weariness after the fifth time, on the contrary. In the movie, there is a crescendo in the fear, the atmosphere becomes heavier and heavier, and the audience's feeling of being slowly trapped doesn't fade away when you see the movie several times. It doesn't function with sudden bursts of fear, but patiently creates a stifling atmosphere.@Anon 11.58: David says that robots are designed to make their human counterparts more comfortable. I don't think that any of David's counterparts on Prometheus feels comfortable in his presence. So there's something more. Do you know the quotation: "everyone is an island"? I thought of it, about David. He is not only a robot, he's an island, and we'll never know what he really thinks, as we never really know what another human being thinks, even if it's your husband or your son!

Hupsakeek said...

What about David?
The writers did a good job with the character of David, you can tell because of the discussions on the www about him.
Because of the big campaign and mistery around the film I immidiatly suspect that the TED conference vid and the introduction of David vid are more then teasers. That there are hidden messages in the vids but that you can see the bigger picture after seeing the Prometheus.
So I watched and listen this vids over and over again and this is what I came up with.
Peter Weyland like to play for God, he like to play with emotions and like to observe.
In the TED conference he says: In 2023 there will be a robot who is completly indistinguishable from human beings, conclusion (he says) “We are the Gods now. Anyone who knows me must be aware by now that my ambitions are unlimited . I settle for nothing short of greatness or I will die trying. If you indulge me I like to change the world”.
He made a robot like a human being because he could. It wasn’t necessary for his mission. He know that the other counterparts would be uneasy with a robot who looked indistinguishable from themselfs. When you see David it’s hard to imagine that he is a robot (and therefore programmed). I think David must give him every day an update about the reactions he gets. Perhaps Davis gets “updates” depending on the reactions (after all David is a computer). If that’s so then it’s possible that Weyland programmed him to see what happend if Holloway gets the “worm”. They do not know what will happen. They know they couldn't ask for volunteers or have the time for studing it in the lab, because it was a secret mission.
In fact, searching for eternal live was the mission (after all Weyland is the boss) but
he let the crew think that searching for the origins of mankind was the mission.(That will explain the strange uninterested crew members.) If it gives you eternal live…then they have to be patient, if it’s not they can see wat happend right away. Why Holloway? I think Weyland is pretty sure that Shaw and Holloway will “celebrate” their discovery and that’s interesting to see if it’s possible to transfer the “worm”.
In the introduction of David he said: “I could carry out directions that my human counterparts find distressing or unethical.” Well this little experiment shows that Weyland is not bothered by unethical expirements (history learned us that people who want to reach a short of greatness haven’t got any problems with that).
An other reason why he made David indistinguishable from human beings is that he wants to have a son.
Peter Weyland made a copy of himself. Off course a perfect one…..a perfect son. If Peter doesn’t find the secret of eternal life, he knows he will “live on” as David. By creating a perfect son he denies his daughter. That is visible in the film: Vickers isn’t allowed in his room. Perhaps she is on the mission because Weyland calculated in that they will not survive. I think he has a “perfect” back up to lead the Weyland Company. There are more Davids!
Weyland was a very intelligent man, that’s why he called the ship Prometheus. Prometheus stole from the God’s and get punished. He knew that they went to LV-223 to steal something and foresee that they get punished)
So If David is a copy of Weyland I think he is evil, but packed in a charming presence. I don’t think he has emotions or that he is developing them. He uses people, just like his creator.

émilie said...

@Hupsakeek: thanks for your very, very interesting thoughts! But I still believe that David is more than a robot. Maybe Weyland created him as his "perfect son" but children aren't their parents' clones! They often rebel against their parents and the Oedipian moment isn't easy to cope with! David says that every child wants to kill his parents. OK,he's maybe manipulative but we CANNOT deduce from what we see that he has no free will and the desire to free himself from Weyland's influence.

Simone said...

Hupsakeek, very interesting points!

@Anon 3:56 - thank you VERY much for posting that Ridley Scott comment. I think it's pretty clear after careful analysis that David has feelings and if you are especially empathetic towards him, you will see his emotions clearly.


It has been revealed today what exactly David said to the Engineer when he woke up. People are very curious and wondered if David said what Weyland wanted him to say, or if David had something else in mind. I'm glad that in the end, David had an allegiance to Weyland and conveyed his original message:

[copied from Awards Daily]

Given that the sequence isn’t subtitled, we were expecting never to know exactly what David said to anger the Engineer. Did he deliver Weyland’s message as asked, or did he take matters into his own hands in that suspicious manner so beloved of “synthetics”?

Well, according to Dr. Anil Biltoo, the film’s official translator and linguistics consultant, David did as he was asked, translating his words as follows: “This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life.”

So there we have it. David wasn’t up to anything sinister, it just turned out that the Engineer wasn’t best pleased to be interrupted by a member of the species he was charged with destroying. Apparently, the scene was initially written to involve a much longer conversation, so perhaps more details will emerge in the deleted material on the DVD. Or even in a sequel…

And I just posted the following at the marvelous thread at Awards daily:

[H]ave any of you made the connection between Leviticus 22:3 and the name of the moon LV_223? Tell me that this is not a coincidence?

I have read at the forum that some people speculate that the Engineers were fallen angels and became disheartened by the development of humans and then made the decision to destroy Earth.

Thanks for posting what David actually said to the Engineer, I'm glad he was still committed to Weyland at the end, but I disagree that the Engineer was simply disturbed only by David's artificiality. He was pissed off plain and simple by awakening after 2K years (probably hungry and parched too), to find these simple ass, puny weak Earthlings on his ship, all up in his grill demanding answers for his species' audacity in trying to kill humans, and another begging for good health and fortune! All these bitches had to go! And when the Prometheus destroyed his ship, he stalked Elizabeth to make sure all of them were dead... before he went off and found another ship somewhere else on LV223.

Hupsakeek said...

Thanks Simone for posting the connection between Leviticus 22:3 and the name of the moon LV_223. I love that! And I'm glad there is a translation of David words to the Engineer. For me that proofed that David is as good (or as bad) like his creator. In my comment yesterday I deliberately left out something. The post yesterday was my answer to the question if Michael was good or bad. Here is my answer to the other question - does David has feelings?
Yeah, I think so. Because, for me, the answer is in the introduction of David vid! It's there out in the open! At the end of that vid the voice over said: "8th generation Wyland Type: Technological, Intellectual, Physical" and then you'll see David up close and he said "EMOTIONAL".
So he is emotional, but programmed emotional. And I think that's why we all being fascinated by him. It makes him (almost) human. I said almost because he's programmed and therefor he has no reason and emotion by nature. He has no conscious and subconscious on which he can base his conclusions in regard to an evaluative issue.
So OUR David is someone of something that keeps us busy! We all like mysterious man or woman, but since Prometheus we also love mysterious robots! That's something what gives us hope for the future!

émilie said...

@Hupsakeek: very interesting once again! So, just for the pleasure of the "interaction" (as David would call it!): aren't we humans also programmed in a way? Are we the masters of our emotions? Our genes, our education have made us more or less "emotional", and all your life long, you can't do anything to change your deep nature! Humans think they have free will, but maybe it's just an illusion. Maybe it's not David who resembles humans but humans who resemble robots in a way!

Amy said...

I think the whole "doesn't everyone want their parents dead Ment once Weyland died David was free-from being ordered around- from being a butler and playing 'light' in front of humansi think away from humans and only in front of shaw we saw David's human qualities come out.With shaw tho I think the childish just learning rudeness that sounds sinister and evil tho came because it was something he had never 'felt' before.

Anonymous said...

Wow, where is that suit pic from?

Hupsakeek said...

@Émilie: What you wrote in your comment today (4:26) is something what also came to my mind. I think it's great to have this kind of philosophical discussions ;)
I found this article on the www and I found it very interesting to read.
It's about Robot Oppression.

émilie said...

Thanks for the link Hupsakeek! It's very enlightening to see that most of science-fiction works deal with the moment when the creature escapes its creator. In Asimov's books, the robots finally rebel against humans and break the three laws described in the article you linked. We can also think of Frankenstein, of Erik in X Men. In a more general way, science-fiction deals with the human beings' megalomania, their desire to become gods, and their inevitable failure. I think David illustrates that. He's the creature. His loyalty to Weyland cannot seemingly be questioned, but the roots of rebellion may exist in him. Are we sure that he told Weyland all that he knew? Scott doesn't give us the proof that David only obeyed Weyland's order when he poisoned Holloway.We are left with our doubts concerning his real motivations: if he took some pleasure in poisoning a man who despised him, it's clearly the beginning of rebellion, because spirit of revenge mustn't be part of his programming.

Veronica said...

I absolutely love the cartoon photo included in the article. I think it pretty much describes the entire film...which is why I’m really praying for a sequel so I can see what happens with David’s head! LOL. Michael did such an amazing job and he is definitely the stand-out performer in Prometheus.

Johanne said...

Have you guys seen this cool fanmade trailer? Michael's playing James Bond and Leo DiCaprio is the villain. It looks really great!!!