In the beginning, there was... BLACK. Earth, the world turns below us, vast and slow. A gradual rumble, something mechanical, an engine? And then suddenly, brightness. So sudden it hurts our eyes. Mountain peaks poke through the vast span of cloud cover. Intensely blue water, untouched and pristine as the rays of the sun dance off its glasslike surface. Clear, untouched, and we're soaring over it. The rumble, deep and low, and now we see something moving over the clear water, an enormous shadow.
Landscapes slide by, reduced by altitude to abstractions. River deltas, forests and flood plains. And whatever we are in right now, that is what's casting it. Moving along the surface at increasing velocity as we finally hit high above the Savannah Plains. The shadow swallows the plains, a raw natural world. No trace of civilization. The shadow sweeps over the land. We move with the shadow. We cast the shadow.
The shadow glides over mountains and glaciers. Across an ocean and a pale beach, lowland plains, volcanic mountains, and waterfalls. Slowing now, the shadow growing larger as the Earth below comes to meet us. A vast black ship hangs in the sky. We are touching down. Dropping towards a river delta, rushing water emits a tooth-rattling sound. A large figure walks out to the edge of the waterfall.
A man - and yet not a man. The large black ship dominates the background. His features heavy and classical, as if Michelangelo's David came to life. His skin is clear and white, dressed in modest clothing. His glittering eyes entirely black. He is otherworldly yet familiar. Beautiful yet dangerous. He is an Engineer. He places a black container on the ground. It looks like it's made of black glass. Something meaningful is about to happen here.
Against the stark land, his height is impossible to judge. He removes his cloak. Somehow there is something sad about it. His smooth head is hairless. The Engineer stands near the precipice of a mighty waterfall. Breathtaking in its sheer power. The Engineer he looks down at the container, furrows his brow, but there is no going back. He opens the black container: inside lies a cake of dark, sticky material.
He lifts the dark cake with ceremonial slowness. It hums and buzzes. Foams into iridescent spheres. The Engineer closes his eyes, deep reverence, a clear ceremony to this as he slowly opens his mouth. He raises the seething cake to his mouth as if taking communion... And swallows it. And as we begin to hear the idling hum of a rising engine, the mighty sound of something lifting up and away. In the distance, the large ship disappears into the clouds.
A moment as the Engineer takes in the pastoral beauty of all that surrounds him. Pure calm. The sound of the rushing water. The light of the setting sun. And then, he convulses, violent, frightening. Close on the Engineer's eyes as they suddenly go dark. His skin begins to stretch as he howls again. Something is coming out of his ears, black and alive, a swarm. Not insects, but something else, pouring from his nostrils, his mouth, his eyes.
His skin melts away. A horrific vision of black blood and dissolving bone. The dark swarm is devouring him. He pitches forward, clutching his stomach, tremendous pain. His body starts to contort. The swarm absorbs his genetic material. The Engineer stands cruciform. It swarms his shoulders, his chest. When it reaches his hips, he collapses, toppling majestically like a felled tree. Engulfed. As if blown by a great gust of wind, the swarm disperses in their millions in all directions.
We are literally at the microscopic level. A fury of life and death as cell walls fracture. His crumbling body falls into the crushing waterfall. We finally understand what the growing blackness is made up of. Tiny swirling ladders. And it's instantly recognizable. It is the seed of This is DNA. He is completely enveloped in the swarm and he disintegrates. Imploding in on himself in a cloud of dust.
And we move down now into the rushing water as the tiny black particles drop in like scattered ashes, all that remains of the majestic being. The particles darting in and out of each other, almost as if alive. A fevered glimpse of the microscopic: cells rupture and bleed. Protein chains unfold. A DNA spiral unravels.
From blackness, the sounds of tools, picks. A pinhole of light, the hole widens, a face revealed. A woman, beautiful, young. There is a light in her eyes, something special, curiosity, intelligence. This is Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, a precocious scholar of many disciplines. A scientist accustomed to field work. Harsh glare as Shaw shines a penlight right into our eyes. Her own face brightens with discovery.
DR. ELIZABETH SHAW: Get Charlie.
ASSISTANT: Doctor Holloway! . . . . . Charlie!
We're clearly in the midst of an archaeological excavation. Charlie Holloway, visionary genius and archaeologist. Twenties, scruffy, stubbly chin, confident as he is brilliant, reckless as he is handsome. Dark-haired and lean, with the rangy build of a frontiersman.
DR. CHARLIE HOLLOWAY: What?
SHAW: Come quick!
HOLLOWAY: Did you date it?
SHAW: 35,000 years. . . maybe older.
She guides his flashlight where she wants him to look. His eyes widen as he sees Shaw's discovery. What these two are so excited about is finally revealed: a pictogram etched on the wall. Shockingly detailed, like no cave painting we've ever seen. A group of people looking up towards a giant at least twice their size. And he looks a hell of a lot like the Engineer. He points up, the flashlight dances up the wall, illuminates an intricately drawn starfield. One of those stars is prominent. This is what the giant is pointing to. Shaw and Holloway lock eyes in electric excitement.
HOLLOWAY: You got to be kidding me. . . This is the same configuration . . . and it's got to pre-date the others by a millennia.
Almost reverential as she turns to Holloway and softly says . . .
SHAW: I think they want us to come and find them.
Like two proud parents looking at a newborn. A sense they've finally found the very thing in life they have been looking for.
Deep Space: A black void shot with stars, far from any sun.
SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATORY VESSEL: PROMETHEUS
DATE: DECEMBER 21, 2093
DISTANCE FROM EARTH: 3.27 X 10 (TO THE 14TH) KM
An enormous space vessel forges through the black void of space, impressive, grittily real, and travel-worn but built to last. Blue flames emit from thrusters at the rear of the ship. Large block letters across the hull, "WEYLAND INDUSTRIES."
David, an android, he's cunningly built, but no one would mistake him for a real human being. He's a prototype, from the 80 series. One of a kind for now, but if he performs, he will be legion. Hypersleep Compartment: Pristine white pods. A long steel room containing a multiple plexiglass sarcophagi. Sleep chambers. Inside each chamber: the shadowy shape of a human body. David walks through the compartment, surveying the sleepers.
He looks inside one particular chamber, a woman. Eyes closed, but luminous, a sleeping beauty. We recognize her, the same woman from the dig site. She is staggeringly perfect. David looks at Shaw through the glass, curious. Something about her he is drawn to. Through his visor he sees one of her memories, or a dream, or both, but the vision is what is happening in Shaw's mind as she sleeps.
Through the illuminated visor, David sees a distorted view of a little girl. African village: Gradually fading in. The sound of insects, and now, singing, beautiful, sad. We're in the midst of a funeral. A tribe of African villagers gently lay a dead man on the ground. The song is a prayer to help him on his way. The young girl, maybe six, she is white, clearly out of place here. She stands on the periphery of the village, riveted by the funeral in the distance.
YOUNG SHAW: What happened to that man?
Beside her, the girl's father, forty, and a smile that exudes warmth. Comfortable clothes, the sun glistens off a Cross dangling around his neck as he prepares a stew over a small fire. He smiles kindly at her, but doesn't hide the truth.
SHAW'S FATHER: He died.
The girl continues to watch as the body is wrapped in cloth.
YOUNG SHAW: Why aren't you helping them?
SHAW'S FATHER: They don't want my help. Their God is different than ours.
The girl considers that. Furrows her brow and watches, transfixed as the face of the dead man is covered in the cloth. Family members cry openly with grief.
YOUNG SHAW: Why did he die?
SHAW'S FATHER: Sooner or later everyone does.
YOUNG SHAW: Like mommy?
SHAW'S FATHER: Like mommy.
YOUNG SHAW: Where do they go?
He looks at his daughter now. Despite the endless questions, he sees she needs to be comforted. He says with complete confidence . . .
SHAW'S FATHER: Everyone has their own word . . . Heaven . . . paradise. Whatever it's called, some place beautiful.
YOUNG SHAW: How do you know it's beautiful?
Good question. He shrugs. Disarmed. Then . . .
SHAW'S FATHER: Because that's what I choose to believe.
Even at this age, we can tell she's smart, inquisitive, special.
SHAW'S FATHER: What do you believe, Ellie?