“Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666.” Book of Revelation Chapter 13 Verse 18, THE OMEN (1976)
DIRECTOR: Richard Donner
STARS: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner
This is the original of the two. The movie is about a couple who loses their son at childbirth and the father ends up adopting another child born at the same hospital the same night. The couple raises the boy as their own (the mother is unaware of the adoption and believes the boy to be hers). However, upon Damian’s 5th birthday, strange occurrences start happening.
For example, dogs start showing up and being protective of Damian, his nanny commits suicide at his birthday party as if under a spell, and his mom (Lee Remick) falls off the upper level balcony in the house almost to her death.
Soon the father, an ambassador, (Gregory Peck) starts to realize other sinister on-goings surrounding their son, and embarks on a journey to figure out where his son, whom he raised as his own, came from. With the help of a photographer (David Warner) they travel around the world getting the answers to questions even the most devout clergymen doe not want answered.
DIRECTOR: John Moore
STARS: Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, David Thewlis
This movie follows the same exact storyline with a few differences (which will be discussed in further detail below.)
Both movies are great horror films. First, let’s talk about the actors. My opinion is that both ensembles are equally good in their own right. However, with the original, you have Gregory Peck, who is a legend and probably best known for his role as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird amongst countless others. Gregory Peck’s talent is unparalleled and he brings a certain debonaire quality to the character Robert Thorn. Since it was made in the 1970s, characters were written differently.
There was still a romanticized view of politics, and in addition movies in the 1970s were notorious for having less-than-rosy endings (think The Graduate and The Sting). The 1970s marked the depressed era of film-making, and not just the endings reflected this. Also, at the time, unknown supernatural entities such as demons, ghosts, and zombies were at its height due to this film-making depression. The 1970s saw the making of The Exorcist, Dawn of the Dead, The Sentinel, and others. These movies showed the darker side to humanity. Also, at the time, the Clergy actually thought demonic possession was a real possibility. However, now we know that 99% of the time, these people had severe mental illnesses that have since been diagnosed and treatments developed. The Church still adamantly believed in the possibility of demonic possession and the only way to eliminate the behavior was to do perform exorcisms. Psychology professionals also still performed frontal-lobe lobotomy and shock therapy, which has since proven to be more detrimental than beneficial. Our understanding of the human brain was very limited in the 1970s, and the original Omen perfectly reflected the ideology of psychology and the church at the time.
The 2006 version (exactly 30 years later) really shows the difference in the times that the movie was written. The first point that I would like to make is the difference in writing. As mentioned previously, the 1970s saw a darker approach to film making, whereas the modern script is not about an unhappy endings as much as it is about evil and physically scaring the viewer. The 1976 version, what scared the viewer more was the unknown and what we couldn’t’ see, where as the 2006 version saw more jumpy scenes, and what we COULD see or find out. We see Robert Thorn as a more powerful political figure (because power and politics are closely associated in modern times) and we see a very strong female character portrayed by Julia Stiles. In the 1970s, we saw a more demure and poised woman in Lee Remick because in the 1970s, most adult women were still domestic, and only in the 1970s did we see a boom of young women attending college to go into the professional world. Remember in the 1960s, most women in the workforce were secretaries.There were professionals, but it wasn’t as common as it is now.
The 1970s saw the birth of that search for the career by a woman after the introduction of the birth control pill, which allowed the woman to chose when to get married and when to have children, thus delaying her “womanly duties” for a professional career and financial independence. Julia Stiles’ character embodied that 1970s woman, but with a modern twist because she portrayed a very strong, and protective woman. However, she ends up succumbing to her evil child’s doings, but she fought harder and was determined to not let her child do more harm. We do not see this determination in Lee Remick’s portrayal. In Liev Schreiber’s portrayal we also see more of a psychological breakdown of his psyche, as opposed to Gregory Peck who kept his composure for most of the film.
Both movies are fantastic films. I really suggest seeing the original first. If you have seen my tweets, then you will know that I am a strong advocate of originals, and am usually not a massive fan of remakes. However, John Moore did a fantastic job of paying a massive homage to the original and keeping any changes to a real minimum. This was a successful remake. What makes this remake so good is that it didn’t modernize it too much. Some remakes try to modernize the technology too much where you start to think “well then whats the point of the movie if all the research/work can be done with the technology?” For example, if Moore could have cut 60% of the film with modernization of Thorn using the internet to research the adoption of his son. It would have ruined the film. There would be no mulit-country search and digging through graves. It really would have ruined the concept of a worldwide search for evil, hunting it down, finding it, and killing it. That is really essentially what makes 2006’s version so good.
I really would like to reach out to our fans to comment and start a thread on what you think of this movie. For those who don’t know me too well (which is most of our fans, since I am the newest addition), I am getting my master’s in Psychology and like to analyze movies. Please comment below!!!
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