Some people seemed to have figured it out even before the film came out, but I wanted to get into what Ridley Scott’s message behind Prometheus was.
First we should look at the centerpeice of the film: the engineers. As the species that created humans (or life on earth?) it’s clear that they are either immortal or can live for an extremely long period of time. Even after they’ve all supposedly died off, one engineer was alive after thousands of years. It is clear that the engineers’ species collapsed and that this collapse coincided with them creating humans. The likely message: humans were created to die. The point of making humans was so that they wouldn’t make the same mistakes as their creators and, because of death, it ironically allows us preserve society for the better.
We can see this in the human characters. Virtually everyone who was only self interested in their survival was killed brutally, (the geologist who only did for the money, Vickers etc.) and this especially pertains to Weyland, whose whole goal was to extend his life and thus angered the engineer into wanting to kill all of humanity (because they were making the same mistakes as the engineers, by finding immortality).
The only characters who were spared or portrayed heroically were those who gave up their lives or came to terms with death. The best example of this is Shaw, who, because of the religiosity, came to terms with her eventual death. For David, death was irrelevant because he was an android.
Another good reason to suspect this is the Prometheus myth, in the myth, Prometheus gives fire to humans and as punishment has to get his liver pecked out by birds forever, thus making him “immortal” in a sense as well. In the analogy, immortality is both the fire and the punishment as well.
Scott Did The Same Thing In Blade Runner
Blade Runner can be thought of as a microcosm of the themes in Prometheus. In it, replicants only have four-year lifespans seeking out their “creator” to solve the problem and in this case they were the villains as well.
Why Care About Immortality?
It would seem odd to make a film about immortality since humanity has tried for thousands of years to accomplish it and has failed (and are still nowhere near to getting it). But lifespans are increasing and although immortality is a long way away, extremely long lifespans (like 200 years) are perhaps not that far into the future.
What’s odd is the fervor with which Scott’s message is conveyed: even if you only live for four years, no matter what religious delusions you have to convince yourself of: don’t live forever, it will end society.