There’s an interesting dichotomy in Hollywood when it comes to interpreting Scripture on film. While they seem to have great regard for the bad news of the Bible (demonic possession, seven seals of pestilence and famine, and that whole end of the world thing), they don’t have much esteem for the good news (the whole Jesus dying on a cross to save us all from eternal damnation thing.)
I’m no religious prude when it comes to adapting the Word’s most terrifying passages in service to a scary movie. But it would seem, if only for the sake of variety, major studios could occasionally greenlight a script that draws on the bits about hope for the future and freedom from sin as well.
I can rattle off dozens of major releases over the last 30 years that feature demons, apocalyptic horsemen, sons of Satan, or some other doctrinal downer, yet all those concerned with Christianity’s impressive upside either debuted as television mini-series or were products of a much earlier era. The Omen may be a stylish, intelligent remake of a stylish, intelligent 70s classic, but once again it demonstrates that the only biblical prophecies the movie industry will even play at taking seriously are those that don’t bode well for mankind.
Speaking of not boding well for mankind, as The Omen opens, a confederation of clergyman gathers at the Vatican to review evidence that the End (capital “E”) is upon the human race. Each slide that flashes on screen in front of them—9/11, the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina—confirms that the beast is poised to curse the world with his presence. The question, they ponder, is how will the Prince of Darkness unleash his son on the world. Diplomat Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) unwittingly provides the answer.
With the encouragement from a traitorous priest, Robert decides to protect his wife Katherine (Julia Stiles) from the knowledge that their baby died in child birth. Instead, he swaps their deceased child for an orphaned infant born on the same day (June 6, naturally), and thus seals his and his wife’s fate as the adoptive parents of Satan’s spawn. Though Katherine feels no real affinity for her son, it’s not clear until his fifth birthday that her problem amounts to anything more than an extended case of post-partum depression. Then the nanny takes a high dive off a balcony and Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) throws a world-class temper tantrum to avoid going to church (though I have known other children who have done this, so perhaps that alone isn’t proof he’s the anti-Christ). Finally, the Thornes start to suspect that there may be something worse than ADD afflicting their son.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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