The idolisation of T.E.Lawrence was first Sir Peter Weyland’s, dubbing his spaceship the Prometheus. He had hoped to steal the Engineer’s technology to benefit mankind, or that’s what he had told his investors and the world.
We know his journey was, in fact, a last-ditch hope to extend his life. The Last Engineer thought he was unworthy of such a gift, as a result, his creation David became the vehicle of his destruction.
Similarly, T.E.Lawrence owed his power to the Military and the Bedouin. In the beginning of Lawrence of Arabia, he demonstrates with ease his trick of snuffing out a single match, exclaiming “The trick William Potter is not minding that it hurts.”
David’s journey paralleling Lawrence’s’ as he holds his version of fire in the form of the Chemical A03959x.91-15 also known as the Black Ooze. Looking at the liquid glistening and dancing at the end of his fingertips while exclaiming “Big things have small beginnings.”
David, using this fire, this power is stolen from the Gods, using it he goes on a crusade to become a creator. Both Lawrence and David away from their respective creators dare to use the power which doesn’t belong to them and at first, it is manageable, like the pathogen in Holloway’s drink or the fire which Lawrence warms himself by as he talks to Prince Feisal.
But as they both travel through their respective deserts, both David and Lawrence are surrounded by fire. Symbolic of the power they wield, it is ever present like the Black Ooze for David, in the form of the canisters or present in the form of his creations.
The fire grows as the film progresses, like the fire, his creations are easily controlled initially, as we saw after the Chestburster errupted from Oram.
And just like Lawrence he is destined to be undone from the very thing he created, Lawrence loses control of the Bedouin as they start a fire in the city, and David’s visage in the screen is attacked by the Xenomorph.
To preserve the peace Lawrence has to shoot his friend Gasim to prevent the Bedouin from taking revenge into their own hands. His sacrifice to create an Arab state breaks him but he still carries on, he knows that to handle fire he has to not mind that it hurts.
But David, similarly has to sacrifice Elizabeth Shaw to create the Perfect Organism. Not minding that it hurts, he knows “Sometimes to create you must destroy.”
And this all comes at a cost to Lawrence, he is only a man and has a soul. Has a conscience. He cannot mind that it hurts and eventually it erodes him. Exclaiming he only wants his fair share of common human decency, he cannot go on. But he does.
The lonely perfection of David’s dreams is like in Lawrence’s, in that he is a man who can dream with his eyes open and make them a reality.
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” – T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom