The Film Prometheus (2012): 33 Years Before The Events Of “Alien”. Plot Analysis & Meaning Of The Film Prometheus, The Essence & Explanation Of The Ending.
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Horror
Year of production: 2012
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pearce
tagline: “They searched for the beginning of humanity, but found its end”
Awards and Nominations: 2013 BAFTA and Oscar for Best Visual Effects, Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film.
Ridley Scott’s film was originally conceived as a prequel to Alien, set in the year 2122.
In the movie Prometheus, a team of explorers travel to a distant planet in search of the creators of life on Earth. The meaning of the film “Prometheus” is the thirst of people to find the answer to the questions of who created humanity and why he decided to destroy it.
The first frames of the picture at first are not very clear to the viewer. A humanoid alien, standing on a cliff in front of a waterfall, drinks some kind of iridescent liquid from a strange metal vessel. His body begins to transform, the creature falls into the water and disintegrates into small particles. As a result, the alien DNA generates new cells, which begin to divide intensively.
Frame from the film.
Only in the course of the film, but rather, closer to its end, the viewer gets a clue. So director Ridley Scott showed the process of settling the Earth with people. Human DNA allegedly originated precisely from the cells of a fallen humanoid. These creators of human civilization are called “engineers”, but who they are and where they came from remains the main mystery of the picture.
What follows is a direct description of the events of the film. The year is 2089 on Earth. Archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway study ancient rock inscriptions, the legacy of past civilizations. Finding in them a common detail similar to a star map, scientists interpret this as an invitation from the predecessors of mankind, “engineers”.
This interpretation turns out to be false – the inscriptions were more of a warning than an appeal. In the 1979 film Alien, to which the film Prometheus is considered a prequel, Ridley Scott used the same “trick”. The researchers received a signal from an alien ship and interpreted it as an “SOS”, but it was a danger warning.
Peter Weyland, the elderly CEO of the Weyland Corporation, is funding an expedition aboard the science vessel Prometheus. The crew of the ship is sent to the distant planet LV-223, being in a state of stasis – lethargic sleep. Meanwhile, the android David is watching their journey. Arriving at the scene in December 2093, mission leader Meredith Vickers orders the rest of the expedition to be woken up and gathers them in the common room.
Logan Marshall-Green as Holloway, Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw and Michael Fassbender as David. Frame from the film.
A hologram of Peter Weiland, the head of the company, appears before the crew. He says that he himself is already dead by this moment, but wants the group members to find “engineers” and discover the main secret of the origin of life on Earth. Along the way, he talks about his “son” David – an android he created that cannot grow old or die. This character subsequently becomes one of the key characters in the film.
The Prometheus lands on a barren mountainous surface next to a large man-made structure, the contents of which the team is investigating. Inside, they find stone cylinders, a monolithic statue of a humanoid head, and the decapitated corpse of a large alien believed to be an “engineer”.
The team later finds more bodies. They see no point in continuing the mission, thinking the species is extinct. Elizabeth Shaw takes a humanoid head onto the ship for study.
Crew members Millburn and Fifield take a wrong turn in the cave on their way and fall behind the others. They get stuck inside the mountain. An impending storm forces the crew to urgently return to the ship. The android David, before leaving, secretly removes a cylinder from the structure and takes it with him, at this time a dark liquid begins to flow from the remaining cylinders.
In the lab on the ship, Shaw examines the head of a humanoid. It turns out that his DNA is 100% human DNA. David examines the cylinder brought from the cave and the liquid inside. He deliberately adds this substance to Holloway’s drink. He drinks it, not suspecting that from now on he has become a carrier of foreign cells.
Frame from the film.
Once in the cabin, Shaw and Holloway make love. This scene is important in explaining how the embryo of an alien creature will end up inside Elizabeth later on.
Meanwhile, Millburn and Fifield wait in a cave for the storm to die down and the crew to return for them. Suddenly, a snake-like creature crawls out of the liquid spreading on the ground and kills both scientists. When the team returns for them, they only find mutilated corpses. David discovers the control room, which contains a surviving sleeping “engineer” and a large holographic map of the starry sky depicting the Earth.
Holloway is showing signs of contracting a mysterious infection. He is rushed back to the ship, but Meredith Vickers refuses to let him on board and, at his insistence, burns him with a flamethrower. A medical examination later revealed that Shaw, despite previously being infertile, is now pregnant. But both she and David, who examined her, understand that inside her is not an ordinary child. It is an alien monster and Elizabeth decides to kill it.
A woman uses an automated operating system to give herself a caesarean section. So she extracts a creature that looks like a squid from her stomach. This, according to the director, is the predecessor of the Alien, although so far it does not look too much like him. After the operation, upon entering one of the rooms, she discovers that Peter Weiland is alive. The old man (according to the story, he was 103 years old at that moment) explains that the meaning of his being on board is simple: he wants to ask the “engineers” how to prevent death from old age.
Charlize Theron as Vickers and Idris Elba as Captain Janek. Frame from the film.
The mutated Fifield returns to the Prometheus and kills several of the crew members before being destroyed. The ship’s captain, Janek, suggests that this mountain of caves has a hidden meaning. It used to be a military base of “engineers” that lost control of a dangerous biological weapon – a dark liquid. He also analyzes the structure of the rocks and determines that there is a spaceship inside.
Peter Weiland and the team return to the cave, accompanied by Elizabeth Shaw. David wakes the sleeping “engineer” and speaks to him in Proto-Indo-European. According to Dr. Anil Biltu, one of the linguists helping to create the “engineers” language, David said: “This old man (meaning Weyland) wants to live longer. He thinks you can help him with that.”
Hearing David’s words, the “engineer” becomes furious. He decapitates the android and kills Weyland and his crew before reactivating the spaceship. Elizabeth Shaw escapes and warns Captain Janek that the “engineer” plans to fly to Earth and destroy it. Janek and the rest of the crew sacrifice themselves by ramming the alien ship. Before that, they eject the escape pod where Meredith Vickers is hiding.
Disabled, the “engineer’s” spaceship crashes to the ground, killing Vickers. Elizabeth Shaw goes to a lifeboat and discovers that her alien “offspring” (fetus extracted from her stomach) is alive and has grown to gigantic proportions. The humanoid opens the lifeboat’s airlock and attacks Shaw. Suddenly, an idea comes to her: a woman throws an alien creature into the face of a humanoid. The monster pushes the ovipositor down the throat of the “engineer”, and that’s the end of it.
Elizabeth finds David’s remains and with his help launches another spaceship. She says that she does not want to return to Earth, but plans to get to where the “engineers” themselves come from. The woman wants to understand why the creatures who created humanity then decided to destroy it.
Frame from the film.
At the end, Shaw leaves a message for posterity, which sounds before the credits: “The final report of the Prometheus ship. His entire team was killed. If you receive this message, do not attempt to reach the location where it originated. Now there is only death. Today is the new year 2094. My name is Elizabeth Shaw, I’m the last survivor of the crew and I’m still looking.” The last frame of the film: in the rescue module, an alien creature bursts out of the “engineer’s” chest, already more reminiscent of the legendary Alien.
The meaning of the ending of the film “Prometheus” can be understood in different ways. On the one hand, it is the victory of good over evil. The surviving members of the team sacrificed themselves to save the Earth. There is also a victory of the feminine over the masculine. After all, it was Elizabeth who became the last of the people who survived and got a chance to find answers to the main questions of mankind.
But what about David? He also survived, his role in the fate of the surviving Shaw is huge. It is with his help that she can continue her journey to other worlds. In this sense, the following explanation of the ending suggests itself: the filmmakers are hinting that the future lies in the interaction of man and artificial intelligence. This process is already visible now, but over the years it will only gain momentum.
The meaning of the film
The film “Prometheus” is largely symbolic, and the meaning of the film’s title is that Ridley Scott turned to Greek mythology. Prometheus, a giant titan, is credited with creating the human race from clay and stealing fire from the gods to give to humans. For this last crime he was tied to a rock. Every day an eagle came and pecked out his liver. The symbolic connection between the titan Prometheus and the giant “engineer” is obvious.
The director’s interpretation of the basic religious principles deserves special attention. Elizabeth Shaw is a committed Christian and constantly emphasizes this. But, believing in the Creator, in Christ, she understands that her theory will not be accepted by the rest. Even having found the “engineers” and realizing that they gave life to all mankind, Shaw does not abandon his principles. To Charlie’s remark: “These giants created us, not God,” she retorts: “But someone created them themselves?”
Ridley Scott wanted the film to end with Elizabeth Shaw stating that she was still looking for definitive answers. He himself said more than once in interviews that this is the meaning of the film and of life in general. The main question of the research team was why the “engineers”, having created people on Earth, then decided to destroy them. There is no direct explanation in the film, but there are clues leading to the answer.
Most likely, the creators for some reason did not like what they saw. It’s like Elizabeth herself, having finally got the opportunity to give life to a new creature, realized that it was not worthy of this and decided to kill him. There is also a religious interpretation in the film: “engineers” once sent Christ to Earth, but people crucified him, which deserved punishment – destruction.
Also, the answer may be that people for the creators were just an experiment, a source of DNA and an object of observation. When interest in them dried up, the “biomaterial” in the form of humanity was subject to destruction. The hidden meaning of the film is that we do not know the exact answer, but we must try to find it. Elizabeth Shaw personifies our entire civilization, looking for a clue to its origin.