Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Gospel According to "The Omen"

I wish the article in UK's The Guardian were longer ...
Father Keating, Catholic priest, on The Omen
What an interesting discussion it would be. Plus I love his first line.

If only people came to church and not the cinema for their information, they might actually learn something useful. In The Omen, when Father Brennan (played by Pete Postlethwaite) keeps imploring Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) to accept Jesus as his personal saviour, saying that he must eat his body and drink his blood to be saved, he is confusing Catholicism with dispensational Protestantism. A lot of the film's supposedly Catholic ideas seem to come from the Plymouth Brethren, who were a Protestant denomination, and pretty much a non-creedal one. They were concerned with the end times, and so is this film.

The film-makers brought in documentary evidence of all the terrible events the world has seen over the past few years - September 11, the tsunami and suchlike - to prove the end is nigh. And this fixation with the date 6/6/6 - well, we have known since the 16th century that the calendar is four years off, and the world should in fact have ended four years ago.

The writers would no doubt argue that they are going on the Book of Revelation, but such literal interpretations of the scriptures are where films like this come unstuck. The Book of Revelation was written to bring strength to a beleaguered community 2,000 years ago. It may come as a disappointment to learn that priests do not address it all in a literal fashion - and we do not wave crucifixes around as if they were magic wands.

It's a terribly pessimistic film, with redemption only offered by superstitious practices and not by human acts of goodness. Although it is true that if the incarnation of God is a reality, then, yes, the incarnation of the devil must also be considered.

I did quite like the nanny (played by Mia Farrow), though - rather a sparkle in her eye, I thought.