As I try to get back into writing the script for Prometheus 2, I find myself struggling to connect what I’m doing back to the original movie. There were numerous questions left in the movie that many people want answered. I covered some speculation in a previous blog, but I think one of the biggest unanswered questions that I didn’t spend enough time on, which probably is a critical element to a Prometheus 2 script is delving into the Ampule Room and what it represents
First, let’s enumerate the important aspects of the Ampule Room:
- Urns containing the black substance that reacted once the door was opened and the crew entered
- Giant human-like head that possibly could be connected to the engineers as a deity (with the only hint by a brief reference from Milburn just prior to the hammerpede assault)
- Murals on the ceiling that depicted a possible engineer subjugating a dog/bird-like creature (domination of life?) that react once the door was opened and the crew entered
- Hammerpedes (or worms just prior to their transformation)
- David speaking aloud about the black substance yet the crew not noticing until they were searching for Milburn and Fifield
- The possible Alien Queen mural that Holloway spotted which detects the lifecycle of the alien
- The head of the decapitated engineer
- A room that is configured in appearance similar to the cargo hold of the ship found on LV-426
- An emerald urn-like object that Holloway discovers sitting on what could be a ceremonial mound
What’s going on in these elements? How do they relate to each other? Is there also a relationship to Alien/LV-426?
It seems that people have spent the most time in discussing the black substance. There are both symbolic and literal (scientific) theories on what it represents. So I want to avoid talking about it, especially since I discussed the ideas in a previous blog post.
Now, one of the more interesting elements that I have not explored much is the giant human-like head. The only time we get an explicit hint in the movie is when Milburn wonders aloud if the head was a god figure for the engineers. I feel that it’s the exact question the audience must be wondering when they first see it. Considering that many movie posters show that head along with the title of “Prometheus”, you can even say that we naturally will connect that figure to the Greek god of Prometheus. After all, why create a room like this with all these urns and construct such a huge figure with just the head?
I read some interesting exposition on the symbolic relevance of the head and how the chamber itself is made in conjunction to Satan’s resting place. As many themes in the film involve God, the origin of life and religion, it wouldn’t surprise me to see how this can be connected to Satan.
Unfortunately, I think if we made too overt of a connect to God, then there would be a lot of uprisings and controversy. This idea is similar to how Ridley did not want to directly link the engineers to Jesus, but just laid out a subtle possibility in his universe.
Yet the head can serve in a similar vein of talking about the arrogance of species in erecting their own images of themselves. One discussion linked the head as the original engineer of the species that perhaps gave himself a god-like status by engendering the statue. I want to transition to ceiling mural with the engineer and the odd creature because I do think there’s a possible connection.
The full image of the mural shows an engineer with a bizarre creature:
The creature though foreign to us might simply represent a random alien on another planet or something that the engineers themselves had manufactured. What it actually is for this purpose is irrelevant (people have suggested that it represents the eagle that tore at Prometheus’ crimes, but I want to avoid that discussion here). But the important thing to me is the posture of the creature in relation to the engineer depicted. I believe that the engineer is shown domineering the creature, once again showing the prowess of the engineers over life. As I mentioned about the head, the engineers (or perhaps the head itself) exist to dominate life. Or perhaps the head/god creature is shown for that purpose and the room is essentially a tribute to this engineer, almost like a temple.
Now, one of the curious aspects of the mural itself is that it reacts and changes. We do not see the complete transformation except that it seems to be erasing itself. Shaw infers that the crew themselves are creating the reaction (which might be true considering that the ampules also react to their presence). One interpretation I have is that the mural is the original story of Prometheus except that Prometheus this time managed to conquer the eagle. The crews appearance disrupts the story thus causing the change and it’s something we need to keep watching to find out.
The hammerpedes/worms are a truly bizarre interjection in the room. The main question for me is why things started to change when the crew entered yet remained dormant with these creatures present? Despite the connection to Satan’s tomb that the Ampule Room has, this element is not easily explainable. Some people have connected the hammerpedes to snakes/cobras which in turn are linked to the Garden of Eden. Obviously, their upgraded form is violent but the fact that they are “upgradable” at all yet cannot inherently affect the urns shows a disconnect. The only possible explanation is that humans possess a key in their DNA that allow the urns to react but the substance itself has the ability to convert any being with a true life pulse.
I did mention how David was the only person who originally noticed the black substance leaking. Everyone else was preoccupied with the engineer’s decapitated head or the alien mural. My guess is that from a plot point of view Ridley did not want the crew to be forewarned about the substance early on since it would affect Fifield. Still it’s strange that no one observed this event at all.
I already discussed most of the alien mural and how it depicted the lifecycle of the alien. One thing I did read while researching the murals is the possibility that this alien was bound rather than Prometheus in a bizarre role reversal. When you look closely at the alien, it appears that the arms of the creature are bound. Again, we have to ask whether or not the engineers managed to either manufacture these creatures and/or dominate them. Also, something to think about is why this mural did not change from Holloway’s proximity.
Next, we have the decapitated engineer’s head. Although it’s obvious what the head is, it isn’t as obvious as to what it represents. My concern in bringing this up is that we have two symbols in the form of heads in the room. Only David makes a remark in the room about the giant head being human-like. But this could just be a subtle foreshadowing that connects the decapitated head to the engineer’s head and what it could look like once the helmet is removed. Beyond that, I don’t have any other interpretations at this time as to why the head symbol is involved.
After that, I want to talk a bit about the configuration of the room being similar to the egg silo in Alien. When you remove things like the murals, giant head, etc., the room practically is the same as the egg chamber in Alien. In addition, David, towards the end of the film, reveals that there are more ships on the planet, which allows Shaw and David to escape. These elements make me suspect that the ship’s cargo hold eventually leads to what becomes the egg silos, perhaps even the one from LV-426. If there is a connection to the Alien movie down the road, it’s the potential for the population of the egg silo.
One idea I’ve been toying with is how the genetics for the hammerpede might intermingle with say an engineer or human, which results in the alien egg and facehugger. The aliens themselves, in Scott’s original vision, represent the age old question, “What came first, the alien or the egg?” I feel that at least with regards to the alien creatures themselves as we see them, the intermixing of the black substance, hammerpedes, humans/engineers eventually result in the alien species. I don’t really want to be re-introduced to the hammerpedes, but it would make some sense on that level if we wanted to connect them, the triolobytes and the ampules back to the original series.
The last little bit in the room to discuss is the emerald object. We do not receive a very clear visual of what that emerald object is. The only thing we can see is that it’s oblong and has something inside possibly. The crystal also isn’t fully manifested and seems half covered with only the underside being exposed.
The only two things we can conjecture about this is the shape and a similar object stored inside the ampule that David removes. The ampule that David removes contains a slender vase-like container, almost bottle shaped with the black liquid. While the appearance of this object isn’t exactly the same as the bottle found inside of the ampule, one has to question if there is a connection.
The thing about this object is that it’s larger, greener and more avoid than the bottle. The shape being ovoid is closer to that of an egg. Naturally, one must link this to both the eggs and the ampule container. Perhaps, this thing is an evolved version of the object inside of the ampule. Perhaps, this thing may evolve into an alien egg. Why else is it placed ceremoniously in front of the alien mural in something could possibly be an altar?
Also, Holloway mutters that the room itself is just a tomb. But beyond the head of the engineer, what other bodies are inside of the room to make him utter such a firm statement? Or is his remark just about the entire ship? For me, the room could just be a foreshadowing of what’s to come with everything setup to eventually act as an entombment for trespassers or the engineers’ enemies should they decide to invade a place like earth.
Again to me all these elements represent things that need to answered and is something I wanted to ask out loud. My last question is a small segue but goes into something I missed earlier that does not have any direct relevance to the Ampule Room. It’s how Fifield, upon dying, does not spew acid. Of course, he’s burned to death, but I imagine that his blood could possibly drip from the injuries of the bullets the security guards’ weapons. I find this to be a critical point because we do see the hammerpede as the only creature with acid for blood that was affected by the black substance. However, Fifield does not exhibit the same condition. I doubt that Ridley Scott is such a sloppy director to leave such a critical element out of the film.
The reason why I wanted to bring this point up is that again I feel that the hammerpede creatures somehow intermingle with the DNA of humans or whatever to create the acidic aliens. I think this is something that will eventually be addressed (or should be addressed) in the upcoming movie. I don’t think the black substance alone changes the blood of any species that touch it into acid, but that species who are infected by it are enhanced somehow. But I feel that acid for blood is not going to be one property.
Anyway, glad to have put these thoughts down. It’s going to help me organize the story I’m writing a lot better.