In anticipation of the release of Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant,” I suggest we refresh our memories of the content of “Prometheus” and look for hidden meanings.
To formulate the basic idea that Ridley Scott expressed in “Prometheus” is quite simple; it would sound like this:
“There are no gods who once created man. There is no Paradise as a place of bliss where the souls of the dead go. Humanity is the result of a biological experiment by another civilization. Our creators are not good at all from a human point of view, they have no similar moral principles, and they will not answer our questions. Those humans worshipped as gods are just as mortal as we are. And Paradise is the planet from which they came.”
In his film, R. Scott painted a rather pessimistic and gloomy picture in which there is no place for our usual cultural values – the uniqueness of the individual and the priority of creativity over destruction. In the universe of “Prometheus,” everything exists exactly the opposite.
“It is a civilization, but it is based on an entirely uncivilized order.”
Every culture and civilization has a certain collective attitude of consciousness that is dominant. Other alternative philosophies are superseded, forming a collective Shadow. The film “Prometheus” is nothing more than an expression of the Shadow of our culture that has absorbed the heritage of antiquity and Christianity.
The central idea of our worldview is the uniqueness and value of the human person.
Consequently, the inverse, shady side of this idea would be the idea of the individual as something of no value, as expendable material. The scene of the Engineer’s self-sacrifice suggests just this: in the civilization of the Engineer, the average man is the biomaterial for future living organisms.
In the movie, there is a reference to the image of the crucified Christ that is significant to our culture. It is contrasted with the image of the crucified alien in the Engineers’ civilization. Although the meaning of this picture remains unclear, the association is quite definite: if people worship Christ as the embodied good, the Engineers probably worship an alien who, from our point of view, is the embodiment of evil.
There are many such hints of upside-down cultural stereotypes in the film. According to biblical legend, Eve was created from Adam’s rib. According to the authors of “Prometheus,” Meredith’s DNA was used to create David Vickers.
The ship arrives on the planet on Christmas Day, and the captain decorates the tree, a symbol of the Tree of Life. But in this shadowy world, the celebration of life turns into a celebration of death.
“I want to open presents” 26:43
They wanted to open Christmas presents, but they opened Pandora’s Box (with all the human misery). 26:43
Creativity in the Prometheus universe is associated with the need for destruction.
“To create something, you must first destroy it.” 1:37:45
This can be seen as a counterpoint to the biblical idea of the world’s creation out of nothing.
The process of constructing a work of fiction is not simply an activation of the artistic imagination but also an immersion into the unconscious.
If a filmmaker has the task of shocking or frightening the audience, then he must look for motives that are unaccustomed to the dominant attitude of consciousness of our society. Consequently, he must delve into our cultural unconscious, into the shadows, and draw out the contents that we displace and frighten us or at least make us uncomfortable.
“I want to scare you.”
Motivations for meeting with creators
The main focus of the characters’ actions is expressed in the first part of the film’s tagline: “They were looking for the cradle of humanity…”
Let’s find out the motives behind the characters’ journey to meet their creators.
What is the point of searching for the cradle of humanity? What is the purpose of meeting with creators?
“To find out why they created us.” – such an answer is too superficial and points to mere curiosity. In fact, the characters in the film have a stronger motivation. В We find four options in the movie:
- Infantile desire to return to the mother’s womb. Escape from struggle and suffering into a world of peace. The desire for ready-made answers to all questions.
- Triumphant return of a warrior or hunter to his home. Return with enrichment.
- The intention of discovering the limitations and injunctions in order to understand and correct them.
- The purpose is to kill one’s makers and to free oneself from their tyranny
The first option, infantile aspiration, we find in Elizabeth Shaw. She cannot accept such phenomena of our world as illness or the untimely deaths of her parents. She believes she deserves the love of her creators and expects them to accept her as she is. She is convinced that Heaven is a beautiful place and wants all the ready-to-use explanations about the world and life.
At the end of the story, her intention changes. After the suffering she has undergone, she no longer seeks peace but wants to meet with the Engineers to understand their attitude toward people. She wants to assert her dignity and restore justice. In order to do so, she is willing to kill the creators.
Weyland is confident that he has borne his fruit into this life–he has the second type of motivation. He has gathered enormous resources in his hands and intends to multiply them. But his growth is constrained by cultural and biological limitations, and he wants his creators to free him from limits. Therefore, the third option of motivation – liberation from restrictions and injunctions – is also present for him.
As a result, he becomes a victim of what he wished for: he dies from a force that is not restrained by the framework of morality.
“overthrow all religion.”
This is a purely militant attitude, and it can be formulated as a desire to kill the creators symbolically. It somehow depresses and bothers him that people in the world believe in gods, and he wants to be free of this agonizing feeling.
David. Although this android is only doing what Weyland put into him, he also has his own secret motive for meeting his makers. He wants to see the immortals, as he considers himself similar to them. But the Engineers disappoint him.
“Mortals, after all.”
The rest of the crew flies either because of purely scientific interest or self-interest.
Who are Creators
The creators, or engineers, resemble in appearance and function ancient Greek gods.
The hierarchy of “black slush-god of engineers-engineers-people” is reminiscent of a fragment of Greek theology in which everything begins with primordial chaos and then differentiates into the various forces of nature.
Engineers create new forms of life out of “black slush” and essentially, like gods, are the formalizing principles that order the original chaos. Their difference from the gods is only in their mortality.
Psychologically, they symbolize the pagan religious worldview which has been superseded by Christian culture.
Suppose the world of Engineers represents our cultural shadow. In that case, the events shown in “Prometheus” can be interpreted as an attempt of our collective consciousness to go beyond the boundaries of moral stereotypes, followed by an inevitable encounter with darkness. Accordingly, we can also see the possible result of this contact, given in a symbolic form.
It is important to consider the fact that, unlike those sci-fi films where aliens are the first to invade our space, hence the unconscious breaks into consciousness. In “Prometheus,” the opposite happens: cultural consciousness intentionally awakens “ancient evil” for its personal benefit and provokes the contamination of conscious functions with the contents of the unconscious.
The principal characters, Weyland, David, and Elizabeth Shaw
embody the fundamental collective attitudes of consciousness.
Peter Weiland is an example of a dominant masculine attitude. He has all the resources in his hands, which he directs where he sees fit. The ship is built with funds from his corporation, which means that this principle of consciousness provides the vital energy to achieve the goal.
Weyland does not have a wife, and the fact that he does not love his daughter Meredith and does not want to give her his power indicates that womanhood is repressed in this culture. And the very type of Meredith Vickers points to repressed femininity and its preoccupation with the masculine principle.
The aging Weyland wants immortality; this means that this cultural attitude has already lost its previous power, but he is still trying to fight for its dominant position.
The personification of pure intellect, sanity, and rationality. The idea is that reason is supposed to preserve human life, so it’s supposed to shut down in time, giving priority to the life instinct, but the android is a mind detached from its host; it’s an abstracted mentality, a technique that has been set free.
When one loses connection with any function of consciousness, that function is put into the shadow, into the unconscious, and begins to behave in a completely unexpected way. This is why, in the film, David acts ambiguous and endangers people’s lives.
Incidentally, the very idea of the rise of the machines appears in our cultural consciousness precisely because of the alienation of the rational function and giving it the traits of a shadow. David’s loss of his body after his meeting with the Engineer means that he loses his autonomy and is once again subordinated to the dominant conscious principle, which Elizabeth Shaw has now become.
Elizabeth Shaw embodies the feminine principle and an attitude of consciousness based on irrational functions, faith, and intuition. At first, this position is undeveloped and subordinate to the masculine and rational line but eventually becomes predominant.
In the film’s finale, Shaw, with David’s head, is flying away in the Engineers’ ship. In other words, the feminine principle has prevailed, has become dominant, and has subjugated her rationality. And now it gets its life energy from the deepest, shadow layers of the mentality which symbolizes the Engineers’ ship.
Thus, the content of the film Prometheus can be interpreted as a possible scenario for the development of our culture based on the principles of patriarchy and rationalism, and in which religious consciousness is present mainly in the form of vague intuitions.
The dominant cultural attitude, for the sake of self-preservation, goes to the risky venture of violating traditional taboos and trying to integrate with the shadow. Reason and science are given unrestricted authority in this enterprise.
The result of the integration is ugly and aggressive monsters, which consciousness deals with the help of a subordinate function.
In the end, the feminine wins, the dominant function of intuition becomes the primary feature of consciousness, thinking becomes the subordinate, and the vital energy is drawn from sources that had once been suppressed.
“Prometheus” ending explained
In the film’s ending on the ship “Prometheus,” the only survivor left is the woman Elizabeth Shaw. With David’s head torn off, she continues to search for the truth in outer space.
There are several versions of the meaning of the ending:
- The human-robot symbiosis will allow the creation of beings endowed with human emotions and robot capabilities.
- The domination of the soul over soullessness. In the film, the only person who survived is a believer.
- The predominance of the feminine over the masculine. When analyzing the physiology of the Creators, it becomes clear that their DNA is identical to that of Earthlings. The Creators are human beings whose evolution has lasted much longer than human development. In their civilization, there is no separation of the sexes. Life is born in a test tube; women are extra in such a society.
The subject of reproduction and procreation is keenly felt in the film. The scene of the self-sacrifice of the Creator at the beginning of Prometheus reveals the meaning of the necessity of reproduction for any civilization. Having been deprived of the process of evolution, giants sacrifice themselves for reproduction. In the final scene, a modern woman survives, which can be seen as the screenwriter’s idea of demonstrating the main point of “Prometheus”: the importance of the continuation of life for mankind.
Each character of the film, leaving for the expedition, pursued his own goals. Elizabeth Shaw is the image of the feminine, listening to her own intuition and often thinking irrationally. In the finale, she dominates the rational (David’s image). The film exposes the possible idea of the necessity to change the patriarchal system and the inadmissibility of the disappearance of the feminine.
The meaning of the film “Prometheus”
The film “Prometheus” is mainly symbolic, and the meaning of the picture’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, and 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 primary 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 the rest will not accept her theory. Even having found the “engineers” and realizing they gave life to all humanity, 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. In interviews, he said more than once that this is the film’s meaning and life. 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 clues lead to the answer.
Most likely, the creators, for some reason, did not like what they saw. It’s like Elizabeth, having on the final 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 film’s hidden meaning 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.
The film “Prometheus”: questions and answers
When I watched the movie “Prometheus” the day before yesterday, like many viewers, I was initially somewhat puzzled by the number of inconsistencies and simply incomprehensible places in the plot. However, after thinking about what I saw, many moments in the film that seem to blunder are logical, with assumptions about science fiction. And since there are lively discussions on the plot of the film and the scenes shown in it in blogs and forums, I decided to list the central questions of the talks and give answers to them from my point of view.
What was the white Alien doing at the beginning of the movie? He drank some liquid and fell apart. Did humans come from his DNA? But after all, one DNA that has fallen into the water is not enough for the appearance of an organism? An alien (this race in fiction is usually called Space Jockeys, so I will continue to call representatives of this species “jockeys”) drank a liquid that used his body to create new life forms. They show how the jockey’s DNA first decays, then new DNA is assembled and made into cells. A similar principle was at the basis of the action of the black liquid from the vases on the planet LV-233, where the ship “Prometheus” arrived: it caused the mutation of the body and transformed it into a new creature. That is, not only did DNA get into the water on Earth but parts of the jockey’s body were transformed into new organisms. Who exactly appeared as a result of this – only people or also other creatures, the film does not directly say. Judging by the fact that the DNA of insects, mammals, and humans coincide by more than 90%, it is possible that
- If the jockeys, as can be seen from the ancient drawings and murals, communicated with people and showed them where the planet LV-233 was located, to which the Prometheus eventually went, then why did LV-233 turn out to be a military facility, and the jockeys were going to destroy humanity?
The movie does not say this directly, so it remains only to analyze and speculate.
At first, I thought – why is the film called “Prometheus”? There must be some meaning to this. A film that raises such vital issues as the search for God, the meaning of life, faith, etc., cannot be named after an ordinary spacecraft. Even a straightforward fantasy thriller (I meant “Alien” in 1979) would be ridiculous to call “Nostromo.” Prometheus mentions Weyland in the opening speech, but that seems like too little of a title for the film.
Who is Prometheus? Weyland was not quite right when he said in his welcoming speech that Prometheus wanted people to become equal to the gods and paid for it. Prometheus, the titan of ancient Greek mythology, is famous for two things: 1) he created humans; 2) he loved people and, contrary to the gods’ will, gave them fire, for which he was punished. Even though he did not die and was eventually forgiven, Prometheus in popular culture is a symbol of self-sacrifice for the sake of people.
Doesn’t it remind you of anything? Of course, the only jockey at the film’s beginning is Prometheus, who sacrificed himself for the sake of the life of humanity. Then the title of the film immediately makes sense. And here, it is essential that the earthly Prometheus, from mythology, was in opposition to the gods. Since myths echo people’s communication with “god” jockeys, it can be concluded that the jockey at the beginning of the film did his job contrary to the opinion of the other jockeys and their supreme authority.
Perhaps he was a dissident or a criminal left on Earth as punishment (if this were a unique experiment, then there would be observer jockeys nearby; and he looked very mournful). His associates or relatives found out about what had been done and took “patronage” over humanity, which is reflected in ancient drawings. However, 2000 years ago (it is interesting that the time of the coming of Jesus Christ is chosen for day X), the rest of the jockeys found out about it. The “gods” were forbidden to appear on Earth (note that all the images found of people communicating with jockeys are ancient, BC, there are no later ones), and the jockeys decided to destroy people as a result of illegal actions.
Thus, the situation depicted in the figures has changed. The planet, pointed out by the “good” jockeys, was turned into a military base, and punitive expeditions began to be prepared on it.
However, whether it was a military base, as the captain of the Prometheus suggested, is another question. After all, after the crash of the first ship, the jockeys show how Shaw and David take off quite quickly, without any excesses, on another ship. This means that there was nothing dangerous there. Maybe it’s just a cosmodrome, a transit point.
- Is Vickers (Charlize Theron) a robot?
The question is raised because the direct answer to the question “Are you a robot?” which the captain asks Vickers, is not given in the film. The fact that Vickers calls Weyland the father can be interpreted differently: since Weyland was the head of the corporation that made androids, the android can call Weyland the father.
I think Vickers is human. The fact is that one of the basic storylines of the film is the Weyland-David-Vickers triangle. Weiland has a daughter (Vickers) but does not love her, and his favorite child is David, whom he envies because of David’s immortality. Vickers, who is evident, is jealous of his father for David (what a look she has when, in the beginning, Weiland calls David, almost a son!). This explains that she sometimes holds herself like a robot – to be like David.
If Vickers were an android, then this triangle would lose its meaning. Moreover, it becomes incomprehensible why there are two androids on the ship and why it was necessary to hide the presence of Vickers from Weiland.
There are other signals: Vickers was a member of the board of directors of the Weyland Corporation (unthinkable for an android); at the film’s beginning. Vickers is either sweating or in some slime doing push-ups from the floor to regain shape after sleeping in a cryo-chamber – the android did not rest would be in the cell, as seen in the example of David.
- How can the earthly android David easily understand alien signs and codes for opening doors and controlling the ship?
Due to the influence of jockeys on ancient human civilizations, part of the culture of jockeys was reflected in the culture of these civilizations. Considering the power of David’s artificial intelligence (the degree of development under the influence of Moore’s law over 70 years, we cannot imagine), which analyzed all the data. He had, and with the data coming in at the time of the study of the alien ship, it is not surprising that David’s brain found solutions instantly.
- Why is David essentially sabotaging by letting a scientist, Holoway, drink liquid from an alien vase?
Despite his independence and bickering with Holoway, David was not independent – he obeyed Weiland, who was in the cryo chamber, and gave instructions to David from there (see the episode when Vickers pinches David and demands to convey what Weiland said). Weiland was interested in one thing – the continuation of his life. The liquid found in the vases from the “gods” could be rejuvenating. Of course, in the face of such prospects, no moral norms could stop Weiland. Since Holoway was no longer needed, the liquid was tested on him, as on an experimental rat.
I do not rule out that the curiosity and inquisitiveness of David’s mind also had an impact here. For example, Weyland ordered the liquid to be tested on someone, and Holoway was chosen by David – by asking him the question, “What are you ready to go to get answers?”
Later, the attitude towards crew members as consumables for experiments was also demonstrated in Shaw, who became pregnant with an alien organism.
- What kind of idiotic behavior of scientists (!) on an alien planet? They take off their helmets and put their hands on obviously aggressive alien snakes.
Indeed, taking off a helmet on an alien planet looks strange – when even on Earth, a European who has traveled to Asia risks stretching his legs from some infection or insect bite. In fairness, it should be noted that the lack of a helmet did not harm anyone, and helmets did not save – when a snake attacked the lost geologist and biologist, they were wearing helmets.
As for the biologist who climbed up to the snake, yes, it looks wild. But you need to consider that, as they say at the very beginning, fanatics were recruited on the ship. And the biologist was also a fanatic. Such a climb to all sorts of creatures is a common thing. Here, for example, about his colleague, the famous Australian animal broadcaster Steve Irwin:
“In East Timor, he was rescuing a crocodile that had fallen into a concrete pipe, and there was no way to get him out. So Irwin dived inside with the animal. The crocodile grabbed his stranglehold, and as a result, the same hand was ripped open again, and the tendon was torn. “
And this is only one episode of many cases of injury from all sorts of aggressive animals. As a result, Steve Irwin died, having received a mortal blow from a stingray in the region of the heart.
So the biologist in the film is not a blunder; they do happen.
- Why didn’t the geologist bitten by snakes begin to bear the Alien or another organism but come to the ship and attack the crew?
A snake did not bite the geologist. When he cut her, her helmet burned through her blood, and the geologist fell face down into the black liquid from which he mutated.
- Why such a variety of monsters with one source – liquid from vases? Are they either snakes, squids, or zombies? Why, in one case, reproduction through the laying of the embryo inside through the mouth, in the other case – sexually?
Perhaps it is connected with the “source material”: the effect on worms is one thing, another on a person. But in general, the black liquid, as we are told in the film, is a biological weapon. For biological weapons, the stability of the result is not essential, i.e., the effect is the same. The main thing is that it hinders the enemy, and the infection is transmitted further – this black liquid does it perfectly.
- How is it that Shaw calmly runs around the ship after her stomach is cut open and sewn back?
It is not worth judging the medicine of 2093 by today’s criteria. For example, if people who lived 70 years ago would see things that are simple for today’s treatment – the same antibiotics – they would also say this is unrealistic. So it is possible that after 70 years, we will have very effective healing and therapeutic drugs – this is precisely the kind of injection Shaw himself did in the shoulder during the operation and in the leg after it. Shaw ran not very calmly – she was constantly hooked from pain.
- Why did the surviving and awakened jockey attack the earthlings who came to him and kill them? I could talk to them, explain. After all, they are children of jockeys!
Firstly, suppose the jockeys decided to destroy humanity. In that case, the fact that the jockeys would not be happy with the people who have appeared practically at their homes is an entirely natural result. Who knows what their policy was there? Well, if the Nazis during the Second World War cultivated the destruction of people without any talk, then the same can be expected from alien creatures.
Secondly, the jockey did not immediately attack them. He watched them squabbling for a while, apparently appraisingly. He only became furious after David said something to him. And even then, at first, he seemed to gently stroke David on the head as if to say – “You turned out good, assholes.” Maybe the jockey finally realized that these worms wanted to use him and decided to get rid of them faster to start his mission.
Thirdly, you should not idealize the attitude of jockeys towards people. Even if I’m wrong when I said at the beginning of the post about the Prometheus jockey and the “illegal” creation of people, jockeys are not obliged to treat people as their children. People, for example, breed cows, but how many of us want to be friends with cows? On the contrary, we mostly love cows exclusively in the form of cutlets and steaks. Jockeys, of course, did not eat people, but a contemptuous attitude towards people is quite likely.
- Why were some gouges recruited for such an important expedition, why is there no discipline, subordination, why do they have no plan, guards, control of things carried, etc.?
Weiland was a fanatic of his craft, and the same fans were recruited on the ship. If this were a classic investment project – here is the specific money invested by particular individuals. Here is the business plan, the measures to control its implementation, and here is such a planned return – of course, everything would be different. But this was Weiland’s adventure, so he orchestrated it all accordingly.
Fanatics despise bureaucracy (including all sorts of safety instructions); it comes to bravado (one biologist in a discussion of the film wrote that it is considered foolishness to work with gloves on the material).
They value improvisation as a result of which things are born, to which, in the usual order, to shove and shove.
In addition, Weyland lived in the last days, so it was necessary to force events. For example, the same test of black liquid: how much time would have been spent on research in the usual way and tests? And then they added Holoway – and you’re done.