Prometheus: 8 Key Themes In Understanding The Film

In his third and final "Answering the Titan" article, Benji Taylor explores the key themes in Prometheus.

Benji Taylor

Contributor

Introduction

You can read PART 1 of this series HERE.

You can read PART 2 of this series HERE.

In the first article of this “Answering the Titan” series we attempted to decipher the clues that are laid out in Prometheus in an effort to solve what many see as an ambiguous storyline, observing that the movie presents a series of hints alluding to plot answers, though few if any of these answers are definitive.

In the second article we explored the mythological and literary motifs that form the philosophical backdrop for the Prometheus narrative, and concluded that Prometheus weaves its narrative tapestry from a disparate collection of ancient myths and legends.

In this article we will talk about the key themes underlying Prometheus which, at its heart, is a cautionary tale about the dangers of dabbling with that which is not fully understood; and a fable that creation, progression and knowledge are unalterably linked to the interwoven notions of creation and destruction.

1. The Premise: Aliens Seeded Life On Earth

The overarching central idea of Prometheus is that it serves as an exploration of the dynamics between the creator and the created. We have 3 ‘races’ here: Engineer, human, and android, arising from their mythological parallel- the 3 key ‘races’ from classical Antiquity: titan, Olympian, and human. The exploration of this dynamic stems from the film’s central premise: that eons and eons in the past an ancient race of super-beings, whom Shaw will one day optimistically christen ‘Engineers’, helped seed life as we know it on Earth.

Chief to Scott’s inspirations here are the eccentric assertions and ideas from Erich von Däniken’s 1968 runaway best-seller Chariots of the Gods, which proposes that ancient aliens seeded life on earth with their own DNA. It also harks back heavily to the heady and disconsolate ideas explored in H.P. Lovecraft’s 1928 short story The Call of Cthulhu, and the mythos that this book spawned, which posits that the Great Old Ones-a pantheon of ancient and grotesque gargantuan tentacled monstrosities- came to Earth in epochs past, and ruled it long ago.

The central ideas that form the threads of this movie’s thematic tapestry are all rooted in this premise- that we were not made by a benevolent, omniscient and omnipotent Creator, but that we were in fact made by living, mortal, fallible beings, for a purpose that the movie hints at, but never explicitly defines. Furthermore, this conundrum of creation is replicated and embodied in the android David, mankind’s own creation, who provides the jump-off point for the existential puzzle that this movie seeks to explore.

Key line: Charlie Holloway – “What we hoped to achieve was to meet our makers, to get answers why they made us in the first place…”