Prometheus Explained

June 11th, 2012 input via mattcolville

“The king has a reign, and then he dies.”

At the beginning of Prometheus, we see an important image. A Promethean, killing himself to create life.

All the Prometheans we see are male. Or masculine. We see two of them in the flesh, and dozens off them via holographic CCTV, we see a Giant Head and a decapitated head, all appear male.

The Prometheans don’t appear sexless, or androgynous, they appear male. Their species is male. Creating life is something they can only do through sacrifice. It’s an act of will, of volition, and in the process, they die. For them, creating life requires death.

Furthermore, they need the Black Goop to do it. A Promethean drinks the black goop, dies, but seeds a new world with life. We don’t know where the Prometheans come from, we don’t know if they’re natural. Maybe someone else created them. Maybe they’ve evolved beyond sexes and mating. But they do not appear able to reproduce on their own. Maybe they can’t reproduce at all. Maybe each Promethean is the seed of life for an entire world. Maybe that’s their purpose.

Humans, on the other hand, can create life at will. Without dying in the process. How would the Prometheans view this? Would they think it natural, or dangerous?

2,000 years ago, the Prometheans experienced some kind of emergency, and they all died. Apparently this emergency was related to the Xenomorphs, as we see a pile of dead, exploded bodies. What happened 2,000 years ago? I don’t know.

We don’t know what happened on the ship 2,000 years ago. But we know what happened here on Earth. The timeline Elizabeth Shaw pinpoints for the Promethean emergency coincides with the date of Christ’s crucifixion. And the movie takes place on Christmas day.

And we know Prometheans have been visiting Earth. Why would they be pissed 2,000 years ago, but not 35,000 years ago? Is it because we killed a Promethean? Did the Prometheans freak out when we crucified on of them, and return to Earth to recover him? Resurrect him?

Maybe, but it may just be enough that we killed someone, anyone, in the name of religion.

Ridley Scott is the same director who made Kingdom of Heaven. He made a movie about the conflict between religions, between man and religion. Prometheus does not arise in a vacuum, it is part of Scott’s body of work.

Ridley Scott sees the human race thusly; we have science and through science we improve our lives, or knowledge, everything. Science and technology, he has said, make literally every aspect of human existance, better.

Yet we have religion, which fucks everything up. “Religion creates more problems than anything else in the goddamned universe.” -Ridley Scott.

Why do we have religion? Prometheus argues humans create religion because we do not understand the meaning of life. We can create life without consequence. The Prometheans have to die to do it, not us. We can do it whenever we want.

Because of this, we constantly search for meaning. We create religion. Peter Weyland desperately hopes the Prometheans will gift him with immortality. Shaw and Halloway desperately hope the Prometheans will provide the answers to life’s mysteries. They constantly refer to the Prometheans as Gods. They talk about God all the time.

To the Prometheans, the idea of immortality would be anaethema. It would be life without death and, from their point of view, life without meaning. The life inauthentically led. The Waste Land.

That’s why mankind has to die. Because we can create life without consequence, and therefore do not value life. Therefore, war. Therefore we go mad seeking immortality. We create false life. David.

I don’t know what David asks the Promethean at the end of the film, but I’m beginning to suspect he did exactly as his master ordered. He said “This man is about to die. Can you solve this problem?”

This would be evidence of Man’s Madness. The same madness that caused us to create religion, and therefore war. The reason we have to be destroyed, and the Prometheans start over.

And then, to compound our sins, who is it that talks to the Promethean? David. David the ultimate expression of our insanity. We made something that cannot die. A parody of life. To the Promethean, David wouldn’t be Not Life, he would be Anti-life. The Prometheans would recoil in horror at the idea, imagining a future galaxy in which there was no life, only Davids.

Why does Elizabeth live, at the end? David notes her unusually high survival instinct. It’s because, unable to create life herself, she values it more. She lives, because she is more like the Prometheans than any of the other humans. The film rewards this virtue.

Why do the Prometheans fear us so much? We see the answer in the film. The Prometheans can drink the black goop, and they just die, seeding their DNA into a planet’s ecology.

But when a human is exposed…bad things happen. Ultimately, a huge starfish entity is created from Elizabeth’s womb, nothing like what happens when a Promethean is exposed to the goop.

That huge starfish entity impregnates a Promethean, and the result is a Xenomorph. That appears to be the only way you get Xenomorphs, they do not occur in the normal Goop/Promethean life cycle.

Therefore the emergency on the Promethean ship 2,000 years ago was not a result of the Prometheans and the Black Goop alone. There is a missing element in the film. One deliberately (?) hidden from us. If the Prometheans were killed by chestbursting Xenomorphs, as seems likely, and if Xenomorphs require something like a human being, something that can create life through sex, something with a womb, where was that womb? What else was on that ship? Did it have humans on it, 2,000 years ago?

Let’s hope for a sequel, with even more interesting questions!