In Prometheus, when the android David is talking with the Engineer, first he stumbles a bit and stays crouched, then they are all asking him questions and David seems to translate it. Then they all stand up, the Engineer strokes his chair and snaps.

My question is, did the Engineer destroy David and go on a rampage because of what he said, or did he have another reason for that? If so, What did David say to the Engineer?

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    maybe David said something like, "I cannot die, so make it look like you're attacking me so these humans trust me again." because afterall, david cannot be trusted, he poisoned the doctor's drink. maybe David is planning on screwing over the girl when they get on that next planet.
    – user1466
    Jun 9, 2012 at 14:02
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    The film's real life linguistics consultant Dr. Anil Biltoo reveals it here.
    – Oliver_C
    Jun 21, 2012 at 7:35

7 Answers 7


Edit: Now we know. In an interview revealed at Total Film with Dr. Anil Biltoo:

Well, according to Dr. Anil Biltoo, the film’s official translator and linguistics consultant, David did as he was asked, translating his words as follows: “This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life.”

The rest of the text of this article stands unedited except for the interview inserts, in italics.

We are forced to reconcile the reaction of the Engineer with:

  • His/its original mission, to destroy the Earth.
  • His/its momentary pause as it analyzes the situation upon awakening.
  • His/its decision to kill the team and continue its primary mission.

Does David betray his creator? His pathological hatred of all of humanity is obvious to us, but not necessarily to them. Would he use the opportunity to ask a different question than he was asked or would he comply out of duty (or programming). My suspicion is David asked exactly what he was told by Weyland. Not that it mattered, the Engineer answered only with his actions to kill the team.

My supposition still stands and is supported in the rest of the Total Film interview review:

So there we have it. David wasn’t up to anything sinister, it just turned out that the Engineer wasn’t best pleased to be interrupted by a member of the species he was charged with destroying. Apparently, the scene was initially written to involve a much longer conversation, so perhaps more details will emerge in the deleted material on the DVD. Or even in a sequel…

Why wouldn't David say what he had been asked to? He is not concerned with the question or the answer. For him, it is academic at best. He has already made his decision about humanity and given the information he has up to that point, he assumes the Engineers already have their own less than stellar opinion of humanity as well.

However, given the purported intelligence of the Engineers, and a time-table of their last visit (approximately 2,000 years ago, during a very warlike period on Earth) once he saw how violent, humanity had remained, he realized he would have to complete his mission. He did not seem conflicted in any way.

My suspicion was he recognized what David was and could extrapolate how long he had been asleep, which may have given him greater motivation to deliver his payload, fearing a galactic outbreak of this violent species. The Engineer did not seem surprised to see us, likely as a diminutive and less impressive form of itself.

I had the impression the Engineer did not fear humanity, so much as their lack of individual control. He was privy to, in a matter of seconds, hierarchical dominance behavior, aggression, anger, and directed violence. From the aspect of a species that creates life, certainly an undesirable outcome. Perhaps the same reaction we might have if a beloved pet suddenly attacked us. We would put it down, for its own good. The Engineer maintained a surprising level of apparent emotional control during his attack on the team and his subsequent launching of his ship. He did not appear to have any issues with completing his mission, so his belief in the necessity was apparent in his actions.

I would also have to credit this Engineer with some degree of forethought. He was the only one on this ship to make it back to stasis and secure himself before the pathogen was able to reach him. I suspect he thought it would be safer to be in stasis than dying in the halls.

David's experience of humanity soured him on meeting the Engineers and even though he was intellectually curious about their technology, he showed no real interest in the Engineers, themselves, likely considering them as potentially dangerous as he considered mankind. Maybe more so, since humanity was based on their DNA. If he did give the Engineer an account of what happened or how they came to be here, rather than Wayland's requested information, I am certain, he was surprised with his/it's reaction. It was certainly not an expected outcome from David's perspective.


Before the crew enters the chamber to awaken the Engineer, Elizabeth asks David why the Engineers would want to destroy Earth. David replies "sometimes before you can create you must destroy". It's also explained earlier in the film that the reason the Engineers ship has breathable air is because it was terraforming the planet. So the Engineers are planet builders, which is exactly what Wayland Industries has become. Mankind has started to mimic it's creators, mankind has even created David so they've become a creator as well.

When the Engineer is awakened he is faced with his own creation, that is mankind. There is Weyland demanding that David ask him what the key to life is. Elizabeth is demanding that David ask why the Engineers want to destroy Earth. One of Weyland's bodyguards strikes Elizabeth sending her to the ground.

David watches all this chaos. It's clear during the film that David becomes intrigued and amazed by the Engineers. He is also fascinated by the idea that a thing can meet its maker. So we are not sure what David's mindset is when he first speaks to the Engineer. We know that David is capable of murder because he has no feelings for humans.

The Engineer sees his creation "mankind" in its raw form. Weyland represents greed, death and weakness. Elizabeth represents fear and anger, and her being pushed down represents the sins of mankind. David speaks to the Engineer and he turns to David, places his hand on his head almost to say "I am pleased, but also I am sorry". The Engineer then tries to kill David by ripping his head off.

Near the end of the film, David's talking head tells Elizabeth he was wrong about the Engineers. It's not explained what he was wrong about.

So I think it's clear that David says something condemning the human race to the Engineer while everyone else in the room is acting badly. So the Engineer pats David on the head much like a master patting his dog.

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    Downvote because this contradicts David's behavior thru entire earlier part of movie, missing that David is a computer programmed to obey Weyland.
    – Shiz Z.
    Jun 21, 2012 at 16:34
  • I've seen an interview with Ridley Scott and he answered this question. He stated that David just repeats what Weyland asked him to say. So yes @ShizZ. you were correct.
    – Reactgular
    Nov 8, 2014 at 23:16

I don't think it was really what he said so much so as what David said was in the language of the engineers and that scared the engineer. Think of it from his perspective. The engineer is in stasis and is woken up by small humanoids from earth (I think it is fair to say the engineers would know more about us then we do about them). We got someone being very emotional, screaming and crying and then getting beaten and silenced, a creepy old guy, a dude with a gun and then David, talking in his language. The engineer checks him out and sees that he is different and perhaps a threat. He tries to destroy David and the others to complete his mission of cleansing earth out of fear from what has happened ; life on earth now is almost competition if not a threat to other life in the galaxy. In later films mankind is seen terra forming and colonizing the rest of the galaxy, similar to the way the engineers do it all be it not as divine or sentient.  So I think what he asked was probaly what wyland asked him to ask, it was just the shock of seeing that humans had learned so much about there creators. But like Prometheus, do we understand the power of that knowledge, or will it be our undoing. Great film, great scene, great anticipation for any other Prometheus sequels!

  • If engineer was scared of David why did he give David a soft touch on the head before decapitating him? He didn't seem to act with a sense of urgency... hence my answer.
    – Shiz Z.
    Jun 16, 2012 at 17:09

There's a difference between the Engineer at the beginning of the movie and the violent Engineer at the end, being one is muscular the latter seems to be either in a suit or biologically altered. The reason for this is unanswered but the Engineer at the end seems to act more militantly, he can even fly the ship and plots a course for Earth. I assume he does know who the humans are, it's his business and his job to drop all those vials of black gunk in his pay load. However, I also get David is 'playing' with the scientists as he displays psychotic mannerisms, like he has his own agenda, so I wouldn't rule out that he whispers something malevolent, just to see what happens. Is the Engineer at the end part Xeno? Perhaps... however, as a movie character it just would not make sense if he gave them all a big hug, said 'well done, you've made it' then flew off to destroy earth.


I think it more like the engineer is seeing the very thing its people fear right in front of it. The race we see in the beginning and the end are the same. They all seem to focus on the answer from a genetic not synthic point of view. The engineer sees David speak to him in is native speech. This shakes it's senses and he attacks David when wayland try's to stop it it defends it self gets shot and goes on a rampage. This confirms his fear and decides to deploy the weapon of best result against a genetic foe. This will reduce its resistance to destroy a synthetic foe. Think about it they create life in there own image not robots, when they visit to check on us it's all good but when the don't like the way that branch is going they send down a adaptable weapon a weapon that feeds on and replicates in so every lose to us is a gain to them that is a powerful weapon. I don't think earth would be a one off project, I'm sure that this is a bigger problem for the engineers then we see in the prologue. We're not alone I think in the resistance to the engineers plans.

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    downvote because this does not answer question "what did David say?" (But I agree with analysis of engineer's reaction)
    – Shiz Z.
    Jun 21, 2012 at 16:36

Turns out David was following orders. He told the Engineer what Weyland wanted him to say:

[A]ccording to Dr. Anil Biltoo, the film’s official translator and linguistics consultant, David did as he was asked, translating his words as follows: "This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life."

This was revealed in an interview.

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    This confirms my answer above, no? Seems the upvotes are in all the wrong places, lol
    – Shiz Z.
    Jun 21, 2012 at 15:48
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    No. It simply means my answer begins with the caveat: Unless we are later privy to script notes or annotations released by the script and the creators, we will never know what was said since it was (reputedly) in a language with no Earthly equivalent. It is now later. And that answer includes information beyond my own, released ten days later. Jun 21, 2012 at 16:38
  • Sorry, but it WAS possible to determine what he said from context and from David's behavior in rest of movie. That's how I was able to provide the correct answer before seeing the interview with the language expert. And that's the beauty of StackExchange -- people who know answers can share their knowledge with those who don't.
    – Shiz Z.
    Jun 22, 2012 at 1:35

What David said was exactly what Weyland told him to say, as David is an android programmed to serve Weyland. This is consistent with how David behaves through the earlier parts of the movie. There is no evidence that David ever disobeys Weyland.

I think the engineer decapitated David to confirm quickly that David was not a human. The engineer suspected this because David was clearly the only member of his group who could speak with the engineer. Evidence includes the soft touch the engineer originally gives David -- basically the engineer was thinking "there's something unusual about this one."

I am not sure why the engineer turns on the rest of the humans but is probably in self defense and/or in conjunction with his apparent original mission of killing off human life on earth.


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