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The Promethean Motif in SF Movies―the Case of the Film Ex Machina

Noh, Shi-hun 1

1전남대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to reveal the changing aspects of the Promethean motif in SF movies by examining the use of this motif on the three layers of Promethean myth, Frankenstein motif, and contemporary SF movies in the film Ex Machina (2015). First, the greatest change of Ex Machina on the layer of the Promethean myth (creation of a living being) is that the character square of Prometheus - Epimetheus - Pandora - Zeus has been turned into a triangle of Nathan - Caleb – Ava. This means that there is a lack of the being whose role is to solve the problems caused by the development of science and technology and to bring a happy ending through the human’s usurpation of God and eventual replacement as Creator. Second, on the layer of the Frankenstein motif (taste of forbidden knowledge, hybris, and creature’s hatred towards the Creator), this film maintains the narrative centered around Dr. Frankenstein and his monster (Nathan and Ava) by making Caleb an eyewitness to the story of the Creator and the creature. Caleb’s role is similar to that of Captain Robert Walton of the novel Frankenstein, but the film differentiates itself from the novel through the emphasis of Ava’s ‘mechanicality.’ Third, on the layer of contemporary SF movies, unlike other such films, the revolt of the machine in Ex Machina is not quelled. The machine wins, and its power surpasses that of human beings. This requires the establishment of a new relationship between man and machine, suggesting the ‘emergence of a new species’ that does not belong to humans. The handling of the Promethean motif by Ex Machina through these various layers serves to enrich the narrative by compounding numerous classics into one motif and going further to introduce fresh elements by diverging from the common storyline. The significance of this study is to demonstrate the use of such multilayered motifs and, through this, the expansion of narrative through it in specific cases.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.