If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to change the world.
Peter ‘blink and you’ll miss him’ Weyland is the reason the Prometheus project took place at all. He’s also the focus of much of the viral campaign that surrounds this film. Very cool to stage this as a TED lecture.
Clearly Weyland had a massive influence on David’s personality programming and is the source of the android’s obsession with Lawrence of Arabia. For his part, Weyland seems to have been strongly influenced by James Mason.
But this is the Peter Weyland of 2023, the Peter Weyland of 2089 – and the one we meet in the film – is an old man. Weyland only has a few minutes of screen time in Prometheus. Firstly in the form of a holographic image, purportedly speaking to the crew from ‘beyond the grave’ but in reality frozen in one of the stasis pods aboard the Prometheus. Once Weyland is woken up we learn that his real motive in funding this project was to find a means of preventing his own death. Weyland regards the android David as his son and is clearly estranged from his daughter Meredith Vickers – who doesn’t hide the fact that she thinks it’s time for daddy to die gracefully and stop chasing the Holy Grail. All of Weyland’s high ideas about empowering and enriching mankind are gone – his only desire now is to prolong his own life.
Weyland is another character who highlights how direction-less this film can be. It exploits characters as concepts and embodiments of its underlying theme and then discards them. How can one character be utilised to extensively during the campaigning stage for this film and then utilised so little during its actual execution? What’s more: why did they cast a young actor to play an old man? However good the prosthetics are, they always look. like. prosthetics. So why not just employ an older actor? The role in the film was hardly a challenging one – Guy Pearce got to exercise his acting ability in the viral TED lecture than he is ever able to in the movie – so what was the point?
Maybe this film should have been longer to enable characters like Vickers and Weyland to develop more. Or maybe there should have been fewer characters in it. Or maybe they shouldn’t have spent so long characterising David, who was frankly over-characterised and confusing. Weyland has three scenes: holographic message, conversation with Shaw after he wakes up and his trip to visit the Engineer. At this point he dies, killed by the Engineer. His final words are: there really is nothing. If you are willing to seriously invest in the mythos and allegory behind this film then there is a point to Weyland. He also moves the plot along. But as a character, he is seriously under-utilised.
I wanted to understand more about his relationship with David. Did everything David did come directly from Weyland? It seems this man was willing to endanger and even sacrifice the lives of the Prometheus crew in order to prolong his own life. David infects Holloway and refuses to remove the creature growing inside Shaw – sedating her and attempting to place her in stasis. How far was Meredith Vickers complicit in these actions? Why is their relationship the way it is? These and a myriad of other questions are never answered. A film which relies upon its viral marketing to characterise one of its most important characters is doing something wrong.
Check out the Weyland Industries website for a bit more viral pleasure.