Alien Covenant: David the android as a Barry Lyndon?

leading from

a) Watching Barry Lyndon
Just to say, on July 16th 2019, I finally finished watching Barry Lyndon for the first time last night because it recently came out on Blu-Ray.

For a while I was looking for a film that was near enough at the core of Alien Covenant in the way that I came to realise that Lars Von Trier's Element of Crime with its Tarkovsky, Blade Runner and Apocalypse Now associations and various strange bits if imagery was at the core of Alien 3.

Alien Covenant seems a bit of an abstract movie in the way it's edited together. Well, it's not so much a core , but there are some things to discuss in relation to David's character in Alien Covenant

We do know from the Prometheus interviews and the film that Lawrence of Arabia was something sort about with David watching the movie and bleach his hair to a similar colour as Peter O'Toole's in the movie and quoting the film slightly later.

There is something more to explore there, but what other directions might Ridley have been taking such a move.

I did see the new Stanley Kubrick exhibition the other week, I looked at the storyboards for the movie Barry Lyndon which was based on the novel "The Luck of Barry Lyndon" by William Makepeace Thackeray.

I suddenly had the idea out of the blue there that this film had something to do with Alien Covenant.

When the blu-ray came out, I bought and watched it, and now I have settled on that idea which as with many things floats in the air.

One thing to take notice of is the fact that Ridley is a Kubrick fan, it might be good to reason with it

b) Kiss
There are scenes where men platonically kiss mouth to mouth in the movie, such as Captain Grogan asked Kiss me, me boy, for we'll never meet again as he lays dying,  and it could easily be assumed to be a normal custom of the time rather than a sign of homosexuality.

Of course the scene looked awkward by 20th Century points of view as the audience wondered what was going on.

Barry Lyndon kisses the dying Lord Grogan who was a family friend

Then there is also a scene where Bullingdon the stepson of Barry Lyndon refuses to kiss his seated stepfather, and it's here that it seems as if the boy had declared war on Barry, although in the book it's Bullingdon's refusal to shake Barry's hand and acknowledge him as his father.

Barry takes the boy into another room to whip him. 

For more information about this scene, see

There is a scene Walter confronts David , asking him who wrote Ozymandias, and David gives the wrong answer and Walter tells him,  but rather than have to admit that his own computer brain is out of tune, David appears to be trying to seduce Walter.

David suddenly says to "Walter, When you close your eyes do you dream of me?"

Walter reveals "I don't dream at all"

David then stated "No one understands the lonely perfection of my dreams, I've found perfection here, I've created it. Perfect organism"

Walter then says "You know I can't let you leave this place"

David continues "No one will every love you like I do"

It didn't look as if Walter was really programmed to handle David or recognise what he was about to do, leaving himself off guard.

With that David kisses Walter who remains unresponsive, and then does something that suddenly shuts Walter down as if painfully, and the body is seen sitting on the floor with the head slumped down before David pulls out a cord from his neck, uttering the words "You're such a disappointment to me"

So thinking about Barry Lyndon help to give a perspective on what the David kissing Walter scene might be about in a Ridley Scott movie and the fighting with his own family member, there might be another movie to consider but on the other hand the flute was introduced into John Logan's version of the script.

It seemed as if there was the homoeroticism there since both David and Walter are robots in male forms and that David was an "unhinged narcissist"

It also ties in with perhaps how in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner when Roy Batty kisses Eldon Tyrell on the mouth, and Tyrell is his make and one might wonder what that was all about.

  1. The scene in which David teaches Walter the flute will undoubtedly go down as a classic. How did that come about?
    Dante Harper: I wrote many versions of the "David seduces Walter" scene. It's a really delicate, hard scene to get right. I do think we all owe the actual use of the flute to [co-writer] John Logan or Ridley — it came after me. 
    I do know that from the get-go, it's such a hard scene to get right, because you've got these two identical robots, you've got this unhinged narcissist. … But I really think Ridley handled that so beautifully, that you have this homoerotic scene that also at the same time turns out to be truly just terrifying and not about the eroticism. I think it manages to be really enthralling and beautiful, and so much of it has to do with how Fassbender does it, giving it that flute. It's a scene that easily could have gone wrong. If you imagine a different actor or a poorly written scene, it would just become an obligatory kind of scene, but the way it ends up being written and the way it ends up being played — it's really one of my favorite parts, and I have four or five different parts of that movie.

d) Escape method
In Barry Lyndon we have a part of the film where Barry Lyndon becomes, as Wikipedia writes" a servant of the Chevalier de Balibari, an itinerant professional gambler. The Prussians suspect that the Chevalier is an Irish spy in the service of the Austrians, and send Barry as an undercover agent to verify this. Barry is overcome with emotion upon meeting a fellow Irishman, and reveals himself to the Chevalier immediately. They become confederates at the card table, where Barry and his fine eyesight relay information to the Chevalier. After he and the Chevalier cheat the Prince of Tübingen at the card table, the Prince accuses the Chevalier of cheating (without proof) and refuses to pay his debt and demands satisfaction. When Barry relays this to his Prussian handlers, they (still suspecting that the Chevalier is a spy) are wary of allowing another meeting between the Chevalier and the Prince. So the Prussians arrange for the Chevalier to be expelled from the country. Barry conveys this plan to the Chevalier, who flees in the night. The next morning, Barry, under disguise as the Chevalier, is escorted from Prussian territory by Prussian army officers. "

We find at the end of Alien Covenant that David leaves the Engineer's planet under the guise of Walter.

We see that it's likely that David stabbed Walter with a knife but we didn't see the actual thing happen

We would have noticed that as soon as the Covenant party were taken to the citadel David started cutting his hair and soon was indistinguishable from Walter.

We hoped that Walter has destroyed destroyed David in their fight, but then once David gets to the Covenant, we start to realise that it's him,

He has even gone as far as removing one of his hands because Walter lost a hand fighting against the Neomorph, and fully he reveals himself to be David to Daniels as she is about to go into hibernation, when she expects him to say something that only Walter would know, but David did not. 
I might even want to somehow imagine that David loaded his own program into Walter and took over his body, that Walter is still somewhere in the circuitry waiting to reclaim it, and perhaps that should be considered very unlikely. Perhaps Walter is still on the planet, slowly repairing himself. I don't ultimately know.

Ryan O'Neil character Barry Lyndon posing as Chevalier de Balibari to  make his escape

e) Thoughts about the casting of lead actors
I like to think that Ridley might have thought about the Barry Lyndon character being Irish, with Michael Fassbender being half Irish and both of Fassbender and Ryan O'Neil at the time being tough looking "pretty boys" as actors. So there's David the android following a ruinous path attempting to get somewhere in life and of course where could one go from there?


  1. "David the android as a Barry Lyndon?" first posted on 16th July 2019

  2. Upated on 29th May 2020. Last time it was just a simple note really about desiring to say they're connected and this time I'm exploring the connection a bit