It's all our fault. Because we (the human race) murdered Jesus, we are responsible for the creation of a monster that could be described thus: ''It's a perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility … unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.''
That is how the science officer of the starship Nostromo described the creature that leapt out of the chest of a crew member. What we didn't know when we saw that chest-burster (in the film Alien) was that it was a bio-weapon designed to wipe out the human race, after we disappointed the beings who created us.
At least, that seems to be the message of the movie Prometheus.
Now I must pause for a SPOILER ALERT and a confession. Today's column is about movies that offer value for money because they require hours of speculation on what the writers and directors were trying to say. To explain why I put Prometheus on top of the list of challenging films on this page, I will need to reveal plot details. Hopefully, this won't be a problem, since Prometheus finished its run in cinemas last week. But if you're waiting to see it on DVD or download, you might want to skip the next few paragraphs. Do I seem terminally shallow when I say I enjoyed Men in Black III more than Prometheus? And if I say Prometheus looked highly derivative of earlier movies, do I sound like the man who went to his first Shakespeare play and came out complaining that ''this bloke's writing is full of cliches''? The derivation mostly involved images and ideas from Alien and Blade Runner, films by Prometheus director Ridley Scott (who also drew on Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and assorted Steven Spielbergers).
Can I redeem myself by saying that since I left the cinema I've hardly given a second thought to Men in Black III, but I became obsessed with learning whether Prometheus is just pretentious mumbo-jumbo or a collection of challenging ideas, deep symbolism and parables about human cruelty and the purpose of existence? My research involved watching Alien again on DVD, mining its bonus features and going online to discover the extra material the Prometheus producers have buried to flesh out the hints in the film.
I conclude that it is trying to tell us this: millions of years ago, visitors from another solar system seeded this planet with their DNA and later left invitational star maps for us in cave paintings. In the year 2089, two archaeologists found these maps and persuaded the eccentric billionaire Peter Weyland (played by Guy Pearce in Rupert Murdoch mode) to fund a journey to one of the planets in the maps.
When they get there, the archaeologists find that the ancient travellers they call the Engineers had manufactured a black bio-goo that infects humans with a parasite, which orally rapes us and then generates the chest-burster that was the subject of Alien.
Why did they want to wipe us out? A clue may lie in the suggestion that their change of heart happened 2000 years ago, raising the possibility that Jesus was one of them. I'll stop my speculations there and return to Prometheus when the DVD comes out. I expect the bonus features to generate more hours of argument.
To nominate your favourite thought-provokers, see smh.com.au/opinion/blog/the-tribal-mind