Let’s just start this off with a big, giant SPOILER WARNING for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Seriously, if you haven’t already seen the movie and plan to, and would like to go in unsullied, then click away right this very minute because we’re going to be throwing out specifics below the break. Perhaps go peruse some of our other content, or find out what’s going on in the world of science fiction this week. Still here? Alright, you’ve been warned. If you stick around below this picture of Charlize Theron in a very well-fitting spacesuit, you have only yourself to blame.
Now then, if you’ve seen Prometheus you know that much of the film hinges on the actions and motivations of the mysterious Engineers, the name given to the aliens previously only seen as a mummified corpse in Alien and referred to as the “space jockey.” In Prometheus we get to see what they look like under the Sandman-esque mask, and we get to explore what could be some sort of sacred site, bio-lab, or weapons-testing facility, depending on your interpretation of the movie. We learn that humanity was created as the product of Engineer, well, engineering. The specifics of that creation are suggested in the film’s opening sequence, when one of the Engineers takes a swig of mysterious black liquid and disintegrates at the cellular level, seeding a nearby stream with his DNA. As the title suggests, Prometheus is riddled with religious themes and symbolism, from brief visuals all the way up to direct dialogue exchanges. In spite of all of this, however, the film ultimately plays coy with outright explaining the Engineers’ motivations, or what causes the disaster that killed off all but one member of their installation on LV-223.
One particular blogger has taken a fine-toothed comb to Prometheus, however, and come up with a surprisingly compelling theory that sounds ridiculous at first glance, but which makes more and more sense the further you get into his argument. The theory posits the Engineers as beings with a deep, ritualized respect for self-sacrifice; envisions the black slime as a substance that responds to not just the subject’s biology, but their intentions; and suggests that the Engineers decided we were a failed experiment because we killed Space Jesus.
While that sounds like a joke, the idea is actually straight from the mouth of director Ridley Scott, taken from an interview with Movies.com. Here’s the excerpt in question:
Movies.com: You throw religion and spirituality into the equation for Prometheus, though, and it almost acts as a hand grenade. We had heard it was scripted that the Engineers were targeting our planet for destruction because we had crucified one of their representatives, and that Jesus Christ might have been an alien. Was that ever considered?
Ridley Scott: We definitely did, and then we thought it was a little too on the nose. But if you look at it as an “our children are misbehaving down there” scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, “Lets’ send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it. Guess what? They crucified him.
So while it sounds like Scott dismissed this specific concept, the bones of it are still apparent in the film, most notably the mention that whatever disaster befell the LV-223 settlement occurred “around 2,000 years ago.” Even if you don’t agree with blogger Cavalorn’s theories, there’s no question that they’re intriguing and well argued. We definitely recommend heading over to Cavalorn’s blog and reading the full essay.
Finally, we’ll leave you with this food for thought. Prometheus unfolds on a moon designated LV-223 (as opposed to LV-426, where Alien and Aliens were set). This is the text of Leviticus 22:3, from the New International Version of the Bible:
Say to them: ‘For the generations to come, if any of your descendants is ceremonially unclean and yet comes near the sacred offerings that the Israelites consecrate to the LORD, that person must be cut off from my presence. I am the LORD.
If that wasn’t intentional symbolism on their part, it’s a pretty damned impressive coincidence.