OMEN, THE: DVD
A baby born in Rome at 6am on the 6th of June is swapped for the stillborn child of U.S. Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck). After relocating in London without telling his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) about the switcheroo, Thorn gradually comes to accept the horrible truth that little Damien (Harvey Stevens) is none other than the antichrist himself.
The Omen was a massive box-office hit and won an Academy Award
for Jerry Goldsmith's score. It also showed up in the dishonour
roll in the Medved Brothers' seminal book The Fifty Worst Films
Of All Time. Sure it's trashy but what entertaining trash it is.
Released three years after the similarly-themed The Exorcist, The
Omen arrived at a time when the Bermuda Triangle was busy making
ships disappear, Nostradamus' doomsday prophecies looked likely
to be fulfilled at any moment and pet rocks were all the rage.
Ideal conditions for audiences to accept the story. We know that too because his nanny
hangs herself spectacularly at his birthday party, baboons in a
nature park break into a frenzy when Damien drives through with
mum and his new nanny Mrs Baylock (Billie Whitelaw) greets him
with the line "fear not little one, I am here to protect
thee". No matter how silly the premise might seem The Omen
works remarkably well as a horror thriller because of the
conviction with which it is executed.
Rapid plot deployment and a
classy cast treating the subject with utmost seriousness add
immeasurably to our acceptance of the fanciful notion. Peck (whose
left eyebrow works overtime throughout) and Remick are convincing
as the blue bloods with a bad seed - even when Remick offers her
immortal line "what could be wrong with our child, we're
beautiful people aren't we?". Elsewhere there are robust
performances from Billie Whitelaw as the nanny literally from
hell, David Warner as a photographer who figures out the mystery
and Patrick Troughton (the second Dr Who) as a priest with every
reason to be paranoid. The Omen may not really be very good if
you look at it too closely but it entertains because it believes
in itself without question. It also offers one of the best
decapitation scenes of the era.
None of the three sequels worked
half as well as Richard Donner's original, which in this edition
comes with some interesting bonus material.
track, a forty-five minute documentary on the making of the film
(annoyingly none of the participants are identified) and a brief
catalogue of the spooky coincidences during filming all add to
the enjoyment. It's also a treat to hear Jerry Goldsmith talking
about the 17 Oscar nominations he's had and the single statuette
he won for this film. Anti-divine intervention, perhaps?
Published July 5, 2001
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OMEN, THE (1976) (MA15+)
CAST: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Patrick Troughton,
Billie Whitelaw, Leo McKern.
DIRECTOR: Richard Donner
RUNNING TIME: 107 min
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: May 30, 2001
SPECIAL FEATURES: Widescreen 2.35:1; Audio Commentary with
Documentary "666: The Omen Revealed"; Featurette "Curse
or Coincidence?"; Interview Clips with Composer Jerry
Goldsmith; Trailer; Language: English; Subtitles: English (H.O.H)
Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian,
Polish, Portuguese, Swedish