Prometheus: 8 Mythological & Literary Motifs In The Film

In Part 2 of his ‘Answering the Titan’ series, Benji Taylor explores the mythological and literary motifs underlying Prometheus.

Benji Taylor

Contributor

You can read PART 1 of this series HERE.

There’s been a lot of talk about the divides that Prometheus has caused amongst fans of the Alien series. Key to the creation of these divisive splits is- according to its detractors-  a series of glaring plot holes in tandem with the failure of Prometheus to provide any definitive answers to the questions that it asks. In contrast, the movie is often heavy-handed when dealing with its mythological and literary themes, though some are hidden beneath the surface more than others.

Last week in part 1 of this ‘Answering the Titan’ series we explored the clues and answers to the Prometheus plot conundrum. Next week in part 3 we will explore the thematic underpinnings of the movie but today we will delve into the mythological and literary motifs that buttress much of the Prometheus narrative.

Much has been made of Michael Fassbender’s awesome but disquieting portrayal of the TE Lawrence infatuated android David 8. Fassbender’s rendering of David, which melds a boy-like naivety with an all-too-human yearning to test the boundaries of the laws imposed upon him, has to be one of the best acted performances of the year so far. In addition to this though it provides the spring-board for many of the movie’s questions concerning existence and the thematic undercurrent of exploring the dynamics between the creator and the created.

Whilst I understand that some people take umbrage to a movie that deals with philosophy and existentialism wrapped up and fed to the audience via what many purport to be a flawed screenplay, such arguments fall outside the scope of this article (though you can always comment on this below and I welcome you to do so!). What I am seeking to do here is draw your attention to the mythological and literary concepts that litter this movie, and also to some more opaque and obscure mythological connections that you might have missed the first time around.

I want to caveat this introduction by saying that, whilst I believe all of the points I address here have formed part of the inspiration for the tripartite Prometheus team of Lindelof, Spaihts and Ridley, I believe they are far too clever to adhere to a direct re-telling of one myth from start to finish- this movie weaves its narrative thread from a myriad variant myths and ancient legends. Also I consider this list by no means exhaustive.

So for the second time- let’s answer the titan!

Click ‘next” below to begin our journey…