Prometheus is a 2012 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. The film stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron. Set in the late 21st century, the story centers on the crew of the spaceship Prometheus as they follow a star map discovered among the remnants of several ancient Earth cultures. Led to a distant world and an advanced civilization, the crew seeks the origins of humanity, but instead discovers a threat that could cause the extinction of the human race.
The film began development in the early 2000s as a fifth entry in the Alien franchise, with both Scott and director James Cameron developing ideas for a film that would serve as a prequel to Scott’s 1979 science fiction horror film Alien. By 2003, the project was sidelined by the development of Alien vs. Predator, and remained dormant until 2009 when Scott again showed interest. A script by Spaihts acted as a prequel to the events of the Alien films, but Scott opted for a different direction to avoid repeating cues from those films. In late 2010, he brought Lindelof onto the project to rewrite Spaihts’ script, and together they developed a separate story that precedes the story of Alien but is not directly connected to that franchise. According to Scott, though the film shares “strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak”, and takes place in the same universe, Prometheus will explore its own mythology and ideas.
The film entered production in April 2010, with extensive design phases developing the technology and creatures the film required. Principal photography began in March 2011, on an estimated $120–130 million budget, with filming taking place almost entirely on practical sets and on location in England, Iceland, Spain, and Scotland. The film was shot entirely using 3D cameras.
Prometheus was supported by a marketing campaign that included viral activities on the web. The campaign released three videos that featured stars from the film, in character, which expanded on elements of the fictional universe and received a generally positive reception. Prometheus was released on June 1, 2012, in the United Kingdom and was released on June 8, 2012 in North America.
In 2089, archaeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map among several unconnected ancient cultures. They interpret this as an invitation from humanity’s forerunners, or “Engineers”. Peter Weyland, the elderly CEO of Weyland Corporation, funds the creation of the scientific vessel Prometheus to follow the map to the distant moon LV-223. The ship’s crew travels in stasis while the android David monitors their voyage, and they arrive in 2093 where they are informed of their mission to find the Engineers. Mission director Meredith Vickers orders them to avoid making direct contact. The Prometheus lands near a large structure and a team is sent to explore.
Inside they find several stone cylinders, a monolithic statue of a humanoid head, and the corpse of a giant alien, thought to be one of the Engineers. Other bodies are later found, and the species is presumed to be extinct. David secretly takes a cylinder, while the remaining cylinders begin leaking dark liquid. A rapidly approaching storm forces the crew to return to Prometheus, leaving crew members Millburn and Fifield stranded in the structure. In the ship, the Engineer’s DNA is analyzed and found to match that of humans. Meanwhile, David investigates the cylinder and discovers a dark liquid. He intentionally infects Holloway with the substance; Shaw and Holloway later have sex.
Inside the structure, Fifield and Millburn are attacked by snake-like creatures. Millburn is killed, and corrosive fluid from one of the creatures melts Fifield’s helmet, exposing him to the leaking dark liquid. The crew returns to the structure and finds Millburn’s corpse. David discovers a room containing an Engineer in stasis and a star map highlighting Earth. Holloway’s infection rapidly ravages his body, and he is rushed back to Prometheus. Vickers refuses to let him aboard, and immolates him at his own request. A medical scan reveals that Shaw, despite being sterile, is pregnant with an alien offspring. Shaw uses an automated surgery table to cut it from her abdomen. Weyland is revealed to have been in stasis aboard Prometheus, and he explains to Shaw that he intends to ask the Engineers to prevent his death from old age.
A mutated Fifield attacks the hangar bay and kills several crew members before being killed himself. The Prometheus‘ captain, Janek, speculates that the structure was part of an Engineer military base that lost control of its biological weapon, the dark liquid. Weyland and a team returns to the structure and awakens the Engineer, who is discovered to be the pilot of an Engineer spaceship. David speaks to the Engineer, who responds by decapitating him and killing Weyland and others. Shaw escapes the Engineer spaceship as it is activated by the Engineer. The still-active David reveals the Engineer is going to release the liquid on Earth. Shaw convinces Janek to stop the Engineer spaceship – he crashes Prometheus into it while Vickers ejects from the ship. The disabled Engineer spaceship crashes onto the planet, killing Vickers. Shaw goes to Vickers’ lifeboat and finds the alien offspring, which has grown to gigantic size, trapped inside. The Engineer survives the crash and attacks Shaw, who releases the alien offspring. It thrusts a tentacle down the Engineer’s throat, subduing it. Shaw recovers David’s remains, and with his help she launches another Engineer spaceship to travel to the Engineers’ homeworld in an attempt to understand why they created humanity and later attempted to destroy it.
In the lifeboat, a xenomorph-like alien bursts out of the dying Engineer’s chest.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this film:
First Published: Dec 9, 2011 – Last Updated: Jun 1, 2013