Prometheus is a 2012 American 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 explores 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.
As a hovering spacecraft departs, a humanoid alien drinks a dark bubbling liquid, and then starts to disintegrate. As its bodily remains cascade into a waterfall, the alien’s DNA triggers a biogenetic reaction.
In 2089, archaeologists 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. Arriving in 2093, they are informed of their mission to find the Engineers. Mission director Meredith Vickers orders them to avoid making contact without her permission. The Prometheus lands near a large artificial structure, which a team explores.
Inside they find numerous stone cylinders, a monolithic statue of a humanoid head, and the corpse of a large alien, thought to be an Engineer. They find other bodies and presume the species is 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 found to match that of humans. Meanwhile, David investigates the cylinder and discovers a dark liquid. He then spikes a drink with the substance and gives it to Holloway. Shortly after Shaw and Holloway have sex.
Inside the structure, a snake-like creature kills Millburn, and it sprays a corrosive fluid that melts Fifield’s helmet, exposing him to the leaking dark liquid. The crew later returns to the structure and finds Millburn’s corpse. David separately discovers a control room containing a surviving Engineer in stasis, and a star map highlighting Earth. Holloway’s ingestion of the dark liquid leads to an infection that rapidly ravages his body and he is rushed back to Prometheus. Vickers refuses to let him aboard, and at his urging, burns him to death with a flamethrower. Later, a medical scan reveals that Shaw, despite being sterile, is pregnant with an alien offspring. Shaw uses an automated surgery table to cut it out. Weyland is revealed to have been in stasis aboard Prometheus, and explains to Shaw he wants to ask the Engineers to prevent his death from old age. As Weyland prepares to leave for the structure, Vickers calls him “Father”.
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. Janek also determines that the underground structure is in fact a spaceship. Weyland and a team return to the structure and awaken the Engineer. David speaks to the Engineer, who responds by decapitating him and killing Weyland and his team. Shaw escapes the spaceship as the Engineer activates it. David’s still-active head reveals the Engineer is going to release the liquid on Earth. Shaw convinces Janek to stop the Engineer’s spaceship. Vickers and her lifeboat are ejected before Janek crashes Prometheus into the Engineer’s spaceship. The Engineer’s disabled spaceship crashes onto the planet, killing Vickers. Shaw goes to Vickers’ lifeboat and finds her alien offspring, still alive and has grown to gigantic size. David warns Shaw over the intercom that the Engineer survived the crash. The Engineer bursts into the lifeboat and attacks Shaw. She releases her alien offspring onto the Engineer; it thrusts a tentacle down the Engineer’s throat, subduing it. Shaw recovers David’s remains, and with his help, they launch another Engineer spaceship. She intends to reach the Engineers’ homeworld in an attempt to understand why they created humanity and later wanted to destroy it.
In the lifeboat, an alien creature bursts out of the Engineer’s chest.
- Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw:
- An archaeologist. Rapace described Shaw as a believer “in God” with a “very strong faith”, but that “things happen and she changes into more of a warrior.” To aid her method acting she developed a complete backstory for Shaw in her head, and worked with a dialect coach to help achieve an appropriate British accent, she also had her make-up artist apply extra blood and sweat during filming to more accurately portray her character. Rapace noted, “I was out there filming for about six months and it was super-intense, my body was in so much pain sometimes but it was absolutely amazing.” She has dismissed comparisons to the Alien franchise‘s Ellen Ripley. Coming to director Ridley Scott‘s attention for her performance as Lisbeth Salander in the 2009 drama film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rapace met him in August 2010, and by January 2011 she had secured the role. Actresses Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Gemma Arterton, Carey Mulligan, and Abbie Cornish, were all considered for the role during development. Eight-year-old actress Lucy Hutchinson portrays Shaw as a child.
- Michael Fassbender as David:
- An android designed to be indistinguishable from humans. The ship’s butler and maintenance man, it begins to develop “its own ego, insecurities, jealousy and envy”. Fassbender stated: “David’s views on the human crew are somewhat childlike. He is jealous and arrogant because he realizes that his knowledge is all-encompassing and therefore he is superior to the humans. David wants to be acknowledged and praised for his brilliance”. Writer Damon Lindelof stated that the character provides a non-human perspective on the film’s events, saying “what does the movie look like from the robot’s point of view? If you were to ask him, ‘What do you think about all of this? What’s going on? What do you think about these humans who are around you?’ Wouldn’t it be cool if we found a way for that robot to answer those questions?” In developing his character, Fassbender avoided watching the android characters of Alien and Aliens (1986), and instead observed the replicants in Scott’s 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner, with a focus on Sean Young‘s character Rachael, whose “vacancy” and longing for a soul interested him. He drew further inspiration from the voice of the HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the “funny walk and economy of movement” of Olympic diver Greg Louganis, and the performances of David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, Dirk Bogarde in The Servant, and Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. David’s blond hair was modeled after T. E. Lawrence. Scott favored Fassbender for the role; by January 2011 he was confirmed to join the cast, despite earlier reports his agents had sought too high a fee for their client.
- Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland:
- The billionaire founder and CEO of Weyland Corp. Lindelof described him as having a massive ego and suffering from a god complex. Pearce has claimed that his appearance in the movie is brief, saying “I’m only [in the film] for a minute”. It took five hours to apply the necessary prosthetics and make-up to transform Pearce into the elderly Weyland, and one hour to remove it. Pearce observed old people to gain insight into the movement for his character, as he found replicating the impeded physical movement the most difficult part of the role. Max von Sydow was Scott’s original choice to play Weyland, but Pearce was cast to allow him to portray both an elderly and young Weyland who appeared in early script drafts.
- Idris Elba as Janek:
- The captain of the Prometheus. Elba described the character as “a longshoreman and a sailor“, with a military background. He noted “[being the captain is] his life and the crew is his responsibility,” and said “he’s a realistic, pragmatic character. He has to get involved…in a film with huge ideas, you need a character like this, who can go ‘Wait…why are we doing this?’”.
- Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway:
- An archeologist and Shaw’s love interest. Marshall-Green was cast after being seen performing on stage “off-off-off Broadway“. He described Holloway as the “X Games type scientist”, explaining that he liked the character’s “leap-before-looking” philosophy. He further noted that Holloway “doesn’t want to meet his maker. He wants to stand next to his maker. He’s willing to go to the edge to get that.” Describing the character’s motivation, he stated: “he goes to the extreme in everything he does, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse of the [Prometheus crew]. I think what drives him is the thrill of the search.” He contrasted Holloway to Shaw, saying “she’s the believer. I’m the scientist. I’m the skeptic. I’m the atheist”.
- Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers:
- A Weyland Corporation employee, sent to monitor the expedition. Theron described the character as “a suit who slowly sheds [her] skin through the film”, and also as “somewhat of a villain … [who] definitely has an agenda”. She stated “Vickers is pragmatic, and desperately wants to control the situation.” Scott wanted the character to lurk in the background of scenes watching other characters instead of being the focus. Theron stated that it helped layer her character because “you’re just so suspicious of her, instantly.” The similar appearances and mannerisms of Vickers and David were intended to raise the possibility that David was based on Vickers’s DNA, or that Vickers is an android herself. After Theron’s casting, she developed three new scenes with Scott and Lindelof to expand her character. Physical action scenes were an issue for Theron because of scenes that involved her running through sand in 30-pound (14 kg) boots, and her cigarette habit. Theron was intended to portray Shaw, but a prior commitment to Mad Max 4: Fury Road prevented her involvement. When that film was delayed, she was able to rejoin Prometheus. Michelle Yeoh and Angelina Jolie were considered for the role.
- Rafe Spall as Millburn:
- A biologist. Spall auditioned for another role, but Scott wanted him to play Millburn. On his casting, Spall said “Alien is one of the best films ever made, and it’s a real buzz to be in a space suit on an ‘Alien’ set with Ridley Scott coming and speaking to you. It’s incredible. That’s why I wanted to be an actor, to be in a space suit on an ‘Alien’ set”.
- Sean Harris as Fifield:
- A geologist who has become unstable after many missions. Harris described the character as “someone who can sense when things are up. He’s your audience guy, going, ‘Don’t go in that tunnel. We should not be doing this!’”. Fifield’s bright red mohawk hairstyle was designed by Harris and Scott, based on Scott’s sketch of a man with a “severe haircut”.
- 3d Cameras
- Advanced Civilization
- Alien Films
- American Science Fiction
- Ancient Earth
- Charlize Theron
- Damon Lindelof
- Director James Cameron
- Distant World
- Fiction Horror
- Horror Film
- Idris Elba
- James Cameron
- Logan Marshall
- Marshall Green
- Michael Fassbender
- Origins Of Humanity
- Principal Photography
- Ridley Scott
- Science Fiction Film