Before continuing, please note that this is a thesis that will contain spoilers to the film Prometheus and if you haven't seen the film yet, (What the hell is wrong with you?) you should see it first and then read this thesis.A year ago when I heard Ridley Scott was making a prequel to the hit film Alien, I knew it was going to be spectacular. At that point I hadn't known yet what he would call it, but it didn't matter, as anything Ridley Scott makes, tends to be art meets science-fiction. So when I heard the name of the movie would be called Prometheus, I immediately knew that it was going to be something special.
Those who are unfamiliar with Greek mythology might not pick up on it, but the title immediately resonated with me, and I knew we would be seeing a creation story of some sort, though at this point little information about the film was available. So first a lesson on Greek mythology because it bares of some importance.
In the Greek mythology, Prometheus was a titan. Titans were very powerful deities who ruled the heavens until they were overthrown by another group of deities called the Olympians. Prometheus, one of the lower titans apparently out of boredom, created man from clay. Zeus and the other Gods were okay with this as humans were merely lower forms of life and did not have the means of innovation or thought process to become more than they were. To the Gods, humans were comparable to cats and dogs, or other play things we humans take for granted. To the Gods, humans were merely pets.
Prometheus not entirely happy with this, and with a sense of benevolent intent, gives humans the ability to walk upright. Zeus and the others again, seem to not truly pay attention. Prometheus walks among his creations, learns from them, and maybe with some foresight, believes they are worthy of more. (This is important, as I will explain a little later.) So out of love for his creations, Prometheus steals fire from Zeus and gives it to the humans. Zeus is angered by this, believing humans unworthy or unready for such technology, he punishes Prometheus. Prometheus is chained to a rock and an eagle is sent each day to bite into his chest and eat his liver, which grows back at the end of each day, so that the process may repeat again forever.
The etymology of the name Prometheus comes from the Greek words for pro (before) and manthano (learn). Thus the name Prometheus translated means Forethought or Prethinker. That is important, because it means that he is intelligent and capable of seeing what will come, and this plays a vital part in this mythology. Prometheus can see what fire can bring mankind, and he can also see that it will anger the Gods, and so when he steals the fire from Zeus, he knows that it will most likely be his death.
So fast-forward to last week. I had seen a bunch of commercials, a few trailers and a lot of speculation about the film, but little actual information. Going into this film, I wasn't sure what to expect, other than what I have previously stated, knowing the mythology of Prometheus, I could only guess as to what I would see. I knew this film was going to be a prequel to Alien so I knew it was likely we would see something that had to do with the beginning of the alien species that plagues mankind after the introduction of the xenomorph alien from the Alien films. I also had heard that we would be introduced to the aliens who had created that xenomorph alien, and learn about them. Beyond those things, the only thing that I could discern from the trailers was that it looked fucking awesome. With that my friend and I went into the theatre and watched the film.
Two hours later, I came out of the theatre and had very little to say. This is normally something that happens to me when I see something with a convoluted plot that requires some time to sink in and process. My friend didn't say much either, which to me indicated he didn't like it much. Since then I have found that there are two categories and many sub-categories of that, which people find themselves lumped into. On one side are those who loved it, and on the other side are those who hated it.
Of those we find divergence as well involving those who hated it because the plot made no sense, or had too much dialogue, or just not enough action or bored them for whatever reason. We also find the people who loved it because it made total sense, had interesting dialogue, tons of action, or kept them thoroughly entertained. For these purposes I will simply ignore those who hated the film, as someone who hates it is unlikely to dwell on it long enough to discern any useful information from it. I have also found that of the people who have enjoyed the film, those who have understood what it really meant are very few and completely separate from those who just enjoy a good film. And I must admit you can enjoy this film without truly knowing what it really means, however once you understand that aspect, the film begins to become a more meaningful and splendid piece of artistic interpretation.
Two days later I found myself still thinking about this film and what secrets it was still holding from me. In my mind's eye I began to replay the film in my head and it became clear to me why this film is such an important and meaningful piece of work. I must admit, this is merely my interpretation of this film, though I believe it is the correct one, and I believe once you realize this fact yourself, you too will begin to see why I enjoy the film so much, and maybe begin to take from it the same things I have.
Let's start by taking in the first few minutes of this film. We open on a scene of a world with lovely green grass, stunning skies and beautiful oceans. A cloaked figure approaches the edge of a cliff, before him a waterfall that goes deep into a river below. The figure pulls the hood of his cloak down to reveal his face. He is not human, but he looks human-like. He appears quite tall in stature. His eyes are black and his skin is gray. In his hand the man holds up a cup. We see the cup contains a black liquid like substance, not very appetizing. He holds the cup in front of his face, takes a deep breath, pauses, and then drinks the liquid. Above the man in the sky is a circular object that clearly resembles an alien craft, and as the man drinks, the craft lifts away and disappears. The man is suddenly hit with pain, which can be seen on his face and he begins to disintegrate before our eyes. Suddenly he falls forward and turns into dust as he hits the water below. In the water we get a zoomed in shot that focuses on the formation of polymers that then coalesce into the double-helix molecule we know as DNA.
So in this scene we learn a few things about the engineers, as they are called in the film. Sacrifice or death is required to create life. This is an important theme as I will discuss later. Consider Prometheus himself. He knew that giving fire to humans would mean certain death, and he did it anyway. He sacrificed himself so humans could advance. In this scene we see the alien knows he must sacrifice himself in order to give life, and though he pauses, does so willingly. Throughout history sacrifice has been an integral part of societies. Mayans for instance would willingly sacrifice themselves because they believed it would bring prosperity to their people. Incas believed that sacrifice could be used to improve the weather. Sacrifice is always associated with goodness. People who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of others are worthy of redemption, trust, and progress.
Sometime in the future we find some people digging in caves. They happen upon a discovery, a pictograph of a man pointing to the sky, and stars aligned above. Fast-forward a little and we find out that the doctors who discovered these drawings also discovered many more, all dating back to early civilizations. What we see is that although these societies lived in completely different times, they all painted the same depiction of a man pointing to a sky with an alignment of stars above. Now aboard the ship Prometheus and in a meeting, they explain that these depictions can mean only one thing, that humans have been visited by aliens long ago and for some reason they stopped coming. One of the doctors surmises that these aliens are our creators, engineers of the human race. Skeptical, the other members of the team who have been told nothing, dismiss these claims. We are told that they were able to take the alignment of stars, put them into a computer and determine where this system is. They then determined there was a planet in this system and a moon capable of sustaining life. It is called LV-223.
Now this is all important because having seen the opening scene of the film we know that these aliens have created us, and seeing these cave depictions it is clear they have been an intrinsic part of our existence thus far. But at some point they decided to leave us be, the cave depictions stop, and we are no longer visited by these aliens. At this point there doesn't seem to be an answer to this question. In fact, the doctors in this film have many questions, including this one, but mostly they seemed interested in understanding why we were created at all.
They fly into the atmosphere of the moon, and spot a straight line that points to a pyramid. The captain stands in front of a table, fixing up a Christmas tree. Ms. Vickers inquires as to what he is doing? He replies that its Christmas. Holloway, one of the doctors who discovered the drawings notices the straight line and points out that God does not build in straight lines, so this pyramid must be where we need to go. The captain tells Holloway that the sun will be going down soon and he should wait until tomorrow. Holloway tells the captain its Christmas and he wants to open his presents now. The crew led by Holloway and Shaw, the other doctor and heroine of the film, (Ridley Scott is famous for creating strong female characters and does so brilliantly in this film as well) head into the pyramid looking for answers. Now with them on this mission is an android named David, who has spent the last few years of the trip to this moon learning the ancient languages, comes with them in the hopes of being able to translate anything they find. At some point the crew run into a wall of symbols. David believes he can translate and begins pushing things on the wall. Suddenly, holographic depictions of aliens appear, and start running through the corridors. The crew chase after them and watch as two aliens disappear into nothing and a third attempts the same and falls down. The hologram stops, and the crew spot on the ground the body of one of these aliens, headless, lying before a giant door. Shaw uses a device and determines the body has been dead for 2,000 years.
Here Scott clues us in on a couple of things, for one it's Christmas day, and he continues when Holloway doesn't want to wait until tomorrow because it's Christmas. The body scene is again quite a significant moment for them, they now have a glimpse at the engineers and find the body of one of their creators. Clues are handed willingly by Scott throughout this film, and this is one of them. This body has been dead for 2,000 years. The aliens were running away from something, though we do not know what it is, we know they are frightened by it and try escape.
David is able to open the door to the chamber and the crew get a first glimpse at the alien, a head is lying at their feet. David then walks into the chamber, he is surrounded by small metallic urns, stacked aimlessly about. The crew pick up the head and put it into a bag. When they enter the chamber something changes, the urns begin to sweat, unnoticed by the crew. A crew member can be seen stepping on earthworms in the dirt. Flashlights shine all around, and someone notices on the ceiling above two murals on opposite sides. On one side we see a glimpse of one of these aliens, a gaping wound on his side, and a spear poking into it. On the other side we see a mural depicting the familiar site of one of these xenomorph creatures we have seen in the alien movies before. Shaw begins to notice the urns sweating, a black liquid pooling on top. She comments that, “I think we have infected the atmosphere in here.” David is seen in the front of this chamber taking one of the urns and placing it into a bag.
By now the picture of what is going on is beginning to become clearer. The engineers have created us, and taught us until one day they suddenly stopped, something changed. What changed you might wonder? Well remember the clue Scott dropped before about this alien having died about 2,000 years before. We must also consider the mural above as a clue. In this case we see a man depicted on the wall who is held up with his flesh torn open, a spear inserted into him. Have you realized what's going on just yet?
This is where things get truly interesting. For another clue we must consider the juxtaposition of the two murals against each other. To the left, the first mural is of a man who is being speared, held in position, his hand upon the head of the man spearing him. Now of course this is a depiction left open to interpretation, much like the entirety of the film itself, but its very clear what this mural depicts. The crucifixion of Christ is an image that is affixed in the minds of most people and the similarities to this image and the mural on the wall are too many to ignore.
Christ is considered as the epitome of goodness, and makes the ultimate sacrifice for mankind, allowing himself to be crucified at the hands of men. Remember this is an act of pure good, at least by Christ. Now in the second mural we have the opposite, a depiction of the xenomorph as a symbol of evil, a demon, Satan himself maybe. But whatever the case these two are in direct contrast to each other. Now assuming this is all true, and Scott is really trying to clue us into this, his subtlety is undeniable. Now this is where we must presume somethings.
The black liquid coming from the urns, resembles the black liquid we first see in the cup that engineer holds just before he drinks it. Now as we know already this liquid creates life, but it also destroys life. When the engineer drinks the cup willingly, the liquid seems quite inert, however in the presence of humans it seems to have a reaction. This is supported by the evidence of David entering the chamber. The urns do not react to his presence, and only react when a human enters the chamber, and this should too be considered. I will continue now, and explain where I am going a little later.
Back on the ship we find out two of the crew members who went on the mission, leaving prematurely have gotten lost on their return and are stuck in the pyramid until morning, as a storm has moved in. They begin to explore and find the chamber that was opened by the rest of the crew earlier and upon entering discover the urns are covered in black liquid and puddles have formed on the ground. They walk into the room and have a seat. Suddenly in one of the puddles something moves, and a snake like creature appears coming out of the puddle of liquid. One of the men seems interested in playing with the creature. He attempts to touch it and it grabs on to him. The other man attempts to cut the creature off, a liquid sprays onto the man with the knife and we discover it is an acid as his helmet melts into his face. The other man falls back as the creature invades his suit, finding its way into his helmet, and diving into his mouth.
It is here we learn the nature of this liquid, we know that it is used to create life, but remember we also know that it destroys life. Remember the earthworms that are previously seen, when the crew enter the chamber. We can see first hand that this liquid can become anything, there is a component we do not yet understand, something that has an affect on what it creates.
Back on the ship our crew take this head and put it under some kind of scanner, determining that this head is only a helmet. David removes the helmet and they get their first true glimpse of the engineers. They begin to run an electrical signal through the head and try to reanimate it. The eyes of the engineer begin to open, he looks around and a distress can be seen on his face. A change begins to takes place, veins start to appear, and the look turns to horror and suddenly the head explodes.
In this scene I believe Scott wanted us to know that the nature of humans is to be inquisitive, to search for answers and experiment with just about anything we can. I believe this is also the time we see that this reanimated engineer appears distressed, maybe at the sight of his human resurrectors, or maybe just disgusted by what they have done. It isn't really clear why the head explodes, except it is possible the engineer willed it himself.
David stands before a table in a laboratory and removes the urn he has taken, from his bag. The urn seems perfectly stable. He unscrews the cap, and removes a cup very similar to the one we see in the opening scene of the film. In it we see the black liquid, completely inert and he touches it, rolling it on his finger, no reaction.
This scene is again very important, and maybe a significant clue to the nature of the liquid inside the urns. We know that in the presence of David the liquid has no reaction, we know that in the presence of the first engineer the liquid has no reaction, but in the presence of humans the liquid clearly reacts. The picture becomes clear in the next scene.
David enters a room and approaches Holloway. The men begin chatting, David offers Holloway a drink and pours him a glass of booze, we see David tap the edge of the glass dropping the black liquid into it. Holloway asks David if he wants a drink and David tells him that it would only be wasted. They two men exchange words and Holloway seems distressed in someway. David is curious about this, and Holloway tells him he would not understand because he has no emotions, he is unable to feel anything.
It is at this point that we understand the true nature of the liquid, and the picture suddenly becomes unclouded. This liquid reacts only in the presence of emotions. We also know that the engineers were not emotionless creatures, this is clear because of the reaction of the head when reanimated, the pause and accepting face made by the engineer in the opening scene and the engineers who seemed fearful while running from the unseen force in the corridor. So we know these engineers have emotions, and we must consider this when considering the nature of the liquid.
So first in the opening scene the liquid seems inert, in response to the emotional state of the engineer, content, relaxed, accepting, and ready to sacrifice himself. Remember that acts of sacrifice are considered synonymous with goodness. Now consider the fearful nature of the engineers running from the unknown force. They are not relaxed, and seem unwilling to sacrifice themselves. We must then take into account the time of these events, 2,000 years ago, and the depiction of Jesus who was surely one of these engineers. So now consider this, 2,000 years ago, humans filled with rage, hatred, and fear, captured Jesus and crucified him.
All that emotion by humans, and the response by Jesus, is one of sacrifice and forgiveness, his final act of good. Now until this point these engineers have been loving, benevolent creatures who seemed willing and able to assist in our development, and then things change. We allow our emotions to paralyze reason, and we murder the emissary of the engineers. These benevolent aliens have a sudden change of heart, they have realized the folly of their creation and decide its time to destroy us.
So back on LV-223, apparently a place where they keep this liquid, the engineers angered by our insolence, plot our destruction. From their point of view this must seem like the ultimate betrayal, parents who have given their children everything, even sacrificing themselves in the process, only to have their children give them the proverbial middle finger. These engineers must have been completely incensed beyond belief. The problem with this is we know what this liquid does now in response to emotion, we were clued into it when the humans entered the chamber.
Humans are considered emotional creatures, something that the engineers must have known, and counted on. What they did not count on, I imagine, would be their own demise at the hands of their creation, this black liquid, which likely responded to this anger they had for the human species. It seems very likely whatever was chasing the engineers around those corridors was a product of the liquid. The emotional concept is also supported by a lack of response by the liquid in proximity and contact with David, an android, who has no emotions.
Holloway enters Shaw's quarters. They discuss her faith, her cross clearly seen hanging around her neck. Shaw shows Holloway a DNA scan taken from the head and compared against human DNA. The two are identical. She seems quite elated at the idea, and he then asks her why she still wears the cross if she knows that God didn't create man, that the engineers did. She tells him her faith has not waivered, after all, someone had to have created the engineers. At this point the two of them have sex. Holloway wakes in the morning and walks over to the mirror, he stares into it and notices something in his eye. We see what appears to be a tiny worm-like creature move in and out of his eye, he seems alarmed but does not tell Shaw about it. The two of them are called to the bridge, the two men that are still in the pyramid are no longer responding to the radio and everyone needs to go out and find them.
We know that David has infected Holloway with this black liquid and we know that Holloway and Shaw have had sex, though not much more is said at this point, we can infer this is not good.
The crew return to the pyramid, and David goes ahead separately to investigate something else. When the crew enter the chamber the captain finds the urns are covered in black liquid and the puddles are everywhere. He asks if it was like this when they were here the previous night, and Shaw tells him it was not like this. They then find the body of a dead crew mate. Holloway collapses, Shaw looks at him, his eyes are strangely colored, and she believes he has been infected with something. She instructs everyone to help her get him back to the ship. Upon reaching the ship, Ms. Vickers, the representative of the Weyland corporation, refuses to allow them to board the ship. She opens the bay door with a flame thrower in her hand, and tells them they can get aboard but Holloway cannot. She seems unwilling to change her mind and tells them she will use the flamethrower if they try to bring him aboard. Shaw is screaming and telling her he can still be saved, but Vickers is not listening. Holloway, lets go of Shaw and the others and walks to the edge of the door. Vickers tells him not to come closer, and he tells her it is alright and he tells her to do it. She pulls the trigger and fries Holloway where he stands, he falls to the ground and dies.
In this moment the crew of the Prometheus suspect that something on LV-223 is not right. One man is already dead, one is missing and one has become infected. We must also look at this moment between Holloway and Vickers closely because it bares significance as well. In this moment Holloway knows what needs to be done, he accepts his fate, and sacrifices himself. Seem like a familiar theme? And it seems of particular interest that fire, the gift from Prometheus is used to cleanse Holloway, another clue by Scott?
David finds himself at a door, upon opening it we see a chamber similar to the one we see in the Alien space jockey scene. The only thing missing is the seat in the middle of the floor that holds the space jockey. David begins looking around the chamber and finds a chair that resides next to a console. He presses some keys on the console and the holographic images of engineers appear again, this time walking about the chamber. One engineer steps down and sits into the seat and begins punching buttons of the console. Suddenly a map of the galaxy and beyond seem to appear in the center of the chamber. David steps up and begins interacting with this three-dimensional representation of space. As the engineer pushes buttons, the map circles around David and planets come into and out of view. We begin to see the vastness of what appears before us. David recognizes one of the planets and touches it. It moves slightly and he grabs it. Holding it in his hand, we can clearly see the African continent, this is Earth. Suddenly, it all stops, and the map disappears. David walks around the chamber and sees a tube, in it we see one of the engineers in a suspended form.
We now know the engineers have likely done this before, we can even suspect that maybe its a kind of manifest destiny of sort. Maybe this is simply how the engineers reproduce and expand their influence in the galaxy. As we see Earth, we see many, many, other worlds. If we already know that these engineers have done this on Earth, we can presume they have done this on many if not all the other worlds we see on the map. We also know a couple of things, the engineers are benevolent, at least until you piss them off.
We know they create life presumably because they can, or because they want to populate the galaxy with their DNA, their way of reproduction? We also know a little something about environmental effects on life. We know that different environments produce different forms of life, so we can assume although Earth produced very similar lifeforms to the engineers we don't have to assume this will be true everywhere the engineers have left their DNA. We also know that this liquid is mimetic in nature. So that means that it can take many forms, or any form you could imagine. I will talk a little bit about this more later on, but for now keep this in mind, it is important.
Back on the ship Shaw awakens on a table, she is concerned that others are infected, scans must be run on all crew members. David asks her if she has had sexual relations with Holloway, and Shaw seems completely shocked. He tells her that she is three months pregnant, a fact she argues, telling him that they had sex the night before. She wants to see what's inside her, he tells her that its not a good idea and tries to get her to sit back on the table, she begins to fight him and he injects her with a shot. He tells her that they will put her in suspended animation until they get back to Earth. She falls asleep. An unspecified time later we see her getting slapped on the face, a woman stands over her asking her to respond and telling her they are going to prep her for suspended animation. Suddenly she jumps from the table and knocks the woman out. She runs from the medical bay straight toward Ms. Vickers' quarters. We learn from an earlier scene that Ms. Vickers has special quarters that act as a life boat that can separate from the rest of the ship, it is completely self-contained and even includes its own medbay, that also includes an auto-surgical table. She runs into the medical bay in Ms. Vickers' quarters and instructs the machine to do a cesarean section on her, it tells her it cannot because its not configured for that. She programs it manually and jumps onto the table in the machine. The machine closes its doors around her. It scans her and begins to cut into her abdomen with a laser. Once it has finished, it inserts a pair of forceps into her abdomen and pulls the baby out. We see a squid like creature with four tentacles, about the size of a baby, and shaking violently, held into place by the forceps. It quickly staples her abdomen as the creature continues to violently shake, and the doors open, she jumps from the machine and closes the doors. She then presses a button, the creature stops moving.
In this scene we are face with an ongoing theme of sorts that Scott tries to depict. He wants us to understand the nature of this liquid, it gives life. Shaw has given life. We know from experience that had she not removed the demon spawn, it certainly would have killed her, thus destroying life as it also does. We also see the continued theme of a wounded abdomen, symbolic of the sacrifice of both Prometheus and Christ, though Shaw seems unwilling to make any such sacrifice herself. Another theme which fits in here that I will briefly talk about now, but continue a little bit later is the act of birth and significance in religious context. In this scene Shaw is unwanting of this pregnancy and aborts her baby, symbolic of Christians who do not support the right of women who abort their children, but as we find out a little later, things do not appear to be as they seem.
Shaw painfully runs through the ship and finds a room with an old man and a few others inside. David is helping the old man, and as Shaw steps inside she sees that the old man is Weyland himself. He is suppose to be dead, but she realizes he was in suspended animation aboard the ship. She wants to know what he is doing, and he tells her that he bought into her dream and he wants to meet his creator. She tells him they are all dead, and he tells her not all of them, there is still one left. He believes that this engineer can grant Weyland life again. He believes that if the engineers can create life, they can surely stop death. On the monitors the captain can see that the other missing crew member's camera is operational and seems to indicate he is outside the ship. So the men in the hold open the door to the outside to let him inside. When the door opens they see a suit laying on the ground. One of the men approaches the suit and turns to talk to the other man. The suit rises up slowly and we see the distorted face of the crew member. He looks like a very angry cro magnon man. His face is roughed up and bloody. He grabs the first man and kills him, he enters the ship and starts killing crew members. The captain and the rest of the crew head for the hold. The men left alive in the hold get into a vehicle and run over the infected crew mate. He is still moving and the captain shoots it with a flamethrower. Shaw leaves the old man and meets the captain. He tells her this place is bad news, she is leaving the ship to go with Weyland. He tells her those answers she wanted, its all bullshit. This place isn't what she thought it was. He tells her its the kind of place you build when you want to create weapons of mass destruction and this is what that liquid is. He then tells her he cannot let any of this stuff leave this place and go back to Earth.
Scott brings us back to the theme of life and death, creation and destruction again. Here we see Weyland who is suppose to be dead is actually alive, although without intervention will actually die soon enough. Weyland does not want to die and believes the engineers will be able to save him. We again see what this liquid is capable of, it has turned the crew member into a stark raving lunatic, possibly in response to his emotional state when infected. The captain makes clear his intentions. We also see the inquisitive nature of man again as Shaw suits up to go with Weyland back to the ship, even though she knows nothing good can come of it.
Weyland, David, Shaw and various other members of the crew enter the chamber in the ship that David entered before and found the engineer in. They approach the engineer and David opens the tube. The engineer stands up and walks forward. His face resembles that of a child unaware of what is happening. David speaks in an ancient dialect, and the face of the engineer changes. He grabs on to David's throat and tears his head from his body. Anger is clearly seen on the face of the engineer as he slams Weyland to the ground and begins carnage on the others. Shaw runs. The engineer presses a few buttons on the console and the familiar space jockey chair appears, coming up through the floor below. Shaw exits the pyramid and runs for the ship. The ground beneath her begins to move. The engineer snaps the familiar helmet on his head and we now see the familiar space jockey from the original Alien film. Shaw jumps over the gaping holes in the ground and continues to run toward the ship. The captain radios to her, and she tells him that he needs to stop that ship. Vickers wants to know where everyone is and Shaw tells her they are all dead. Vickers tells her to get back to the ship that they are going back to Earth. Shaw tells them they need to stop that ship or there will be no Earth left for them to go back to. The captain tells Ms. Vickers it might be wise for her to head to her quarters and use that life boat. She runs away. The captain tells his men to head toward the escape pods, he'll handle it from here. The men tell him he doesn't know how to fly the ship alone, they are going to stay. The captain turns toward the alien ship which is now high in the sky. The lifeboat must be set to sense danger and ejects itself from the rest of the ship, it goes flying off into some rocks. Ms. Vickers jumps into an escape pod and jettisons herself from the ship. Her escape pod hits the ground in a crash. The Prometheus flys higher into the sky on a direct intercept course with the alien ship and collides in a stunning explosion. Suddenly the alien ship begins to fall. It crashes into the ground standing up. It's weight begins to shift and the rest of the damaged ship begins to fall on its side. Shaw and Ms. Vickers look at each other and run like hell. The ship continues to fall, and Ms. Vickers slips. The ships falls on her and crushes her. Shaw is luckier and she escapes getting crushed, barely.
When David lets the engineer out, the engineer does not immediately attack the crew. I believe this is because he does not truly know they are human yet. It is only when David speaks an ancient human dialect that the engineer attacks them. This seems to support the idea that the engineers have seeded much of the galaxy beyond Earth and may have helped many civilizations. It is pretty clear from the engineers reaction that he knows that the language David is speaking comes from Earth, and he knows exactly what happened on Earth.
So here we see that anger from the engineers, the anger that likely caused the original release of whatever killed the engineer they found outside the chamber. We have to assume that the engineer suspended himself, quite possibly to escape whatever was originally released. We still have no clear answer to what it was, although its possible whatever it was has long since died itself, or returned to the black liquid form. The engineer fueled by the returning rage he has for humans seems intent on returning to Earth, possibly to bring to fruition that which they originally intended.
Shaw knows now what has to be done, and she knows that it will require a sacrifice. There again, another common theme. The captain has already told her he cannot allow whatever is on LV-223 to escape back to Earth, she knows what his intentions are. When she tells him what the engineer is doing, she knows what is going to happen. The captain tells his men that they can leave, but they choose to stay with him, and thus we have three men who are equally willing to make a sacrifice. Colliding Prometheus into the alien ship, Scott is showing us that mankind is worth redemption.
Shaw rises from the ground and heads for the lifeboat. Upon entering the ship she sees its in complete disarray resulting from the crash. She hears a sound coming from the medlab. A huge tentacle slams against the window of the lab door. Whatever this thing is, its a lot bigger than it was when she pulled it out. She wants to run. David radios her. He tells her that she needs to get out of there, he's coming. We see the engineer entering the lifeboat. He grabs Shaw and tosses her against the medbay door. She slams on the button door and it opens slightly. A tentacle reaches out and grabs the engineer. She fights out of his grasp and watches in horror as this thing appears before her. It's simply massive. She runs away. The thing grabs onto the engineer and pulls at him, the engineer continues to fight the monster. Suddenly it opens its mouth wide and a tentacle shoots out at the engineer. He falls to the floor and the monster falls on top of him.
We see that the engineer is still fueled by his rage, and goes after Shaw. This of course leads to his demise at the hands of the monster, again clue to understanding that emotions are ultimately responsible for this situation. The engineer allowed himself to be overcome by emotion and like before a monster kills them.
Shaw sits outside waiting for her certain death when she hears David again speak in her ear. He tells her that she should come get him so they can leave. She tells him there is no way they are leaving this world, and he tells her there are other ships. She gets David's head and brings him outside the ship. He tells her that he can fly the ship and plot a course home. She is unwilling to accept how things have gone and tells him that she does not want to go home. She asks him if he knows where their home planet is located, he believes he does. She wants him to fly her there, he agrees. We see the ship fly away, and hear a voice over of Shaw. She has questions and wants answers and she isn't going to stop until she gets them. Fade to black. We come back to the medbay, the engineer is on the floor, the monster slung over. Suddenly the engineer bursts open and we see an old familiar sight, the xenomorph. It opens its mouth and another mouth pops out, showing its teeth. It screams.
In these final scenes we see once again that human inquisitive nature. Shaw is unwilling to let all this be in vain and wants real answers. David, we presume has memorized the map of stars and planets and has likely figured out which one of them is the home world of the species of engineers. At this point the Shaw flying away in ship thing is merely a means to create a sequel.
I don't really love the idea of a sequel to a prequel, but I'm also intrigued by the possibilities Scott has created thus far. He has managed to give us some answers, a whole lot more questions and has tapped into the inquisitive nature of man. You want to know where Shaw is going, and what she will find when she gets there. The xenomorph popping out of the chest of the engineer is designed to answer at least one of the questions, where did the xenomorph aliens come from? Now many people will take the similar nature of this creature to the original, but not exact likeness, to mean that this is not exactly a direct prequel.
Let's examine a few things. This is clearly a prequel, until this point the humans have no knowledge of the existence of the aliens, so we can assume from this that means it happens before the introduction of them in the film Alien. Some will likely be concerned by difference between the xenomorph at the end of the film and the one depicted in Alien. To this I can only say, we have no real idea what happens after the events of Prometheus.
Because of this we must assume something does happen, if we know the events of Alien happen in the future, which we do know, since we know this film is already a prequel. I spoke earlier about life being determined by its environment. Let me say a few things about this. We know that certain evolutionary mutations are determined by environmental factors like weather, exposure to elements, a decrease in the availability of certain elements, etc.
We also know from the alien films that the xenomorph takes on the characteristics of its original host. This is clearly evident in Alien 3 with the introduction of the dog xenomorph. So it seems to me that even if the alien we see at the end of Prometheus resembles the xenomorph in the film Alien only slightly, we cannot be sure what evolutionary changes take place to get it from the film Prometheus to the film Alien. We must also consider the mimetic state of the black liquid, as this too falls in line with the universe that Scott is creating. The liquid can create anything, and it creates good when it senses good, and it creates bad when it senses bad. We also know that it can both create and destroy life, evident by the creation of DNA which brings life into the world and the creations of the xenomorph alien which brings about destruction.
Let's go back to the murals on the ceilings in the chamber of urns. Remember the juxtaposition of the two murals. In one we see Jesus Christ depicted by a gaping wound, which could also easily be Prometheus himself, if not for the spear. And on the other we see the xenomorph. In the first we see ultimate good and the other ultimate evil. We see in the first, the sacrifice of life, an act of pure good. And in the other the depiction of pure evil, a creature created by the kind of emotions responsible for the murder of Jesus Christ. We can also draw conclusion from the murals as well. On the left, one can say this is what you have done. On the right, this is what happens.
Going back to the theme of environment for a minute, not to beat a dead horse, but when the Prometheus gets to LV-223 we find the moon is a very similar composition as Earth, with only minor differences. Breathing outside is impossible, but the crew finds that the air inside the pyramid is quite breathable. This suggests to me that humans look very similar to the engineers because we require very similar environments to them, but other worlds using the same DNA may produce quite different results, and the life that arises there may not look much like us, or the engineers.
This of course feels like it might be a real thorn in the side of the engineers, after all, humans are truly molded in their image, a theme found in modern religions like Christianity. The depiction of Christ for example is of a human man with a beard and long hair. He looks like someone who could be your neighbor despite being the progeny of God. Knowing that humans were so similar to the engineers might they have taken special interest in us, maybe more than any of the other planets they had certainly populated with life? We don't really know this watching the film, but it feels like this is the case, and may have been the catalyst for the anger felt by the engineers when we betrayed them.
I also talked a little bit about the scene involving the auto surgical machine and abortion by Shaw. I only wanted to bring this back up because it clearly has some significance in light of the view on abortion by Christians. What is interesting to me is that Shaw appears to kill the baby in the medbay using some kind of spray inside the machine. What we can assume by it coming after her later was that it was merely an anesthetic and not some kind of poison.
This is of significance because again it starts with an unwanted pregnancy and abortion we see but an unwillingness to kill something she knows is bad news. She knows enough to get this thing out of her, but not enough to actually kill it? Some people will say she may have thought she was killing it when she pressed the button and sprayed it. I don't believe so, and I will explain. As we know she understands biology, and medicine because of her work on the engineer's head. We also know that she tries to get the machine to perform the cesarean section automatically but it is unable to do so. She then has to manually program the thing, certainly an advanced step and one that only someone with knowledge of medicine and biology would know how to do.
That makes me believe she knew very well how to use the machine and knew very well what she could do with it. She may have known it wasn't designed to kill anything, after all, it was designed to save lives not take them. She would have known that it likely had anesthetic. You might wonder why she chose not to use it when she got into the machine? Simple. She wanted to be lucid. When the creature was sprayed down, it stopped moving. Had she used that on herself, she would have likely been put to sleep, with this thing still inside her. So now that we know she didn't want to kill the thing, why?
I thought about this long and hard and I concluded that Scott must have wanted to pose a question that must plague anti-abortionists. If you knew that you were carrying the next Hitler, would you abort your baby? Let me put it another way, if you could save the lives of millions by terminating the life of one, could you do it? This to me seems to be what Scott might have been thinking when he wrote this scene. We can also assume Shaw might not have wanted the thing inside her, but she was also a scientist and although the thing was clearly dangerous it deserved further study. We might also consider the fact that when she removed it from her body it was very tiny and she had no way of knowing it would grow up to be so big, so fast.
I just want to say a few final things before I wrap this up. I feel that Ridley Scott has created a masterpiece here. Many people who have read my blog will surely wonder why I give such high praise to a man who is clearly drawing connections in between religion and science, two things which do not mix well. You might also wonder why I enjoyed this film so much knowing its content was based in religion in some part and knowing I myself am an atheist. To that I can only say, I enjoy well written, well thought out, well conceived stories, whether they are themed in fiction or non-fiction. I enjoy immensely the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, and J.K. Rowling. This doesn't mean I believe we are likely to get attacked by a band of Orcs, have fire rained down upon us by dragons from above, or believe that wizards and witches roam freely all over England fighting the forces of darkness who seek to end their existence with spells like avada kedavra. I am completely able to discern fantasy and reality and can enjoy the creation of these works for what they are, remarkable examples of fantastic entertainment.