There are a quite a few great themes running through the plot of Prometheus in need of analysis. While the movie has received some strong and unfair reactions about the portrayal of science, overall it attempts to do many interesting things through the course of the plot. Unfortunately, many of these points went overlooked by those who decided to write strongly negative reviews. Herein, the themes of the film Prometheus will be analyzed. It is worth noting this analysis contains many spoilers.
The first theme of Prometheus is not what it is like to meet your maker, but rather what it is like to meet another culture of humans that are more technologically advanced. This is the really interesting point of the film, the Engineers/Space Jockeys are genetically humans and as history tells us through many, many examples it is not pleasant to meet another civilization of humans with greater levels of militaristic technology. The captain of the ship, due to his African heritage, intuits this quite readily as his people have experienced exactly what happens one two groups of varying technological advancement meet.
Naturally, when the crew wake up the last surviving Engineer they are set for a major disappointment as it behaves in a disturbingly human manner and immediately attacks everyone.
The creation of life and the lack of special properties it ultimately has is a major theme in the film. The engineers created both the Xenomorphs and earth-based humanity. Humanity created androids, for example David. The interesting thing is how little respect all creators have for their creations, which all ultimately destroy them.
David (Michael Fassbender) is the true primary character of the movie. His treatment at the hands of his human creators is the same as the treatment the humans receive. There are many great questions surrounding him as a character that exist throughout the course of the movie.Primary amongst them is whether David is truly sentient or not, which is a very problematic issue as the crews treatment of him should he be sentient is evil. Yet, as they created him the idea of him being beyond them in some way seems difficult to grasp in much the same way the Engineer’s simply do not care for humanity.
It is also interesting that his idol is Lawrence of Arabia, as portrayed by Peter O’Toole, who is similarly used throughout the duration of the film by self-interested forces.
Life is Ugly
Simply watching a nature documentary showing Africa during the night is enough to see clearly that nature is often ugly and violent. Most portrayals of Aliens show them as being technological advanced, but rarely show the gritty, oozing, ugly side of them in the way that Prometheus does. The point is that the evolutionary process is not a nice one. The lifeforms that live pass on their genes, those that do not go extinct. Life is a harsh process. This culminates in the surgery scene, which is undoubtedly the most unsettling scene in the film.
The Aliens in this film, interestingly, are much more feminine in design than those of the first films. One of the characters comments on this, referring to the snake-like Alien as, “definitely a lady”.