The Omen
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FAQ for
The Omen (1976) More at IMDbPro »

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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Omen can be found here.

What is 'The Omen' about?

American diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck), whose wife Katherine (Lee Remick) has just given birth in an Italian hospital to a stillborn child, agrees to substitute, without telling Katherine, a healthy newborn boy whose mother has just died in childbirth. As the years go by and the Thorns and their son Damien (Harvey Stephens) return to London, strange events begin to happen. On his fifth birthday, Damien's nanny hangs herself and is replaced by the mysteriously sinister nanny Mrs Baylock (Billie Whitelaw). Animals at the zoo seem to be scared and angered by Damien's presence. Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton), who claims to have been present at Damien's birth, is speared to death in a freak accident. Katherine suffers a miscarriage and is killed falling over a banister. Robert begins to believe Father Brennan's warning that little Damien is the Antichrist.

The Omen is based on a screenplay by American screenwriter David Seltzer. Seltzer novelized the movie in a book that was also released in 1976, just weeks before the movie was released. Following the success of the movie, three more movies were filmed in the saga, Damien: Omen II (1978), The Final Conflict (1981), and Omen IV: The Awakening (1991). A remake, The Omen, was released in 2006.

Robert and Katherine Thorn are merely his adoptive parents. Satan is Damien's real father, and a female jackal is his real mother, as Robert discovers when he opens her grave. The name on the jackal's grave is Maria Scianna, a Greek name meaning "Mary of Shadow".

What is a jackal?

Jackals are canine animals, closely related to dogs and wolves. A photo of a jackal can be viewed here.

When Robert opens his grave, he sees that his real son was murdered by a blow to the skull.

An omen is defined as a sign of either portending good or evil. It isn't spelled out in the movie as to just what this sign is. Viewers have suggested that it refers to the birthmark that looks like the number 666 found on the back of Damien's head. Others see the omen as Damien himself, a sign that the Antichrist has arrived and his takeover of the world is imminent. Still others point to Father Brennan's poem: When the Jews return to Zion and a comet rips the sky, the Holy Roman Empire rises, then you and I must die. From the eternal sea he rises, creating armies on either shore, turning man against his brother till man exists no more. In the movie, photographer Keith Jennings (David Warner) points out the headline in The Astrologer's Monthly, dated the 6th of June, five years ago, announcing that the "Star of Bethlehem Glows Again" and mentions that theologians have already interpreted the "eternal sea" as the world of politics. Since Robert is the US ambassador to England, these are omens in Jennings' eyes that the Antichrist has arisen as Robert's son Damien.

In the Bible's Book of Revelation 13:18, the number 666 refers to the number of "the beast." The King James Bible translates from the original Greek: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. Damien was born on the sixth of June at 6 a.m.

Just prior to the nanny hanging herself at Damien's fifth birthday party, a black dog appeared in the bushes and made eye contact with her. The supposition is that the black dog, one of many who guard Damien at various points in the movie, caused her to do it, the intent being to replace her with Mrs Baylock.

They were Rottweilers. A photo of a Rottweiler can be seen here. It is said that the sale of Rottweilers increased tremendously after The Omen was released.

The long driveway to Guildford Cathedral, located just off the A3 between London and Portsmouth, proved perfect for this scene. See photos of Guildford Cathedral here.

Brennan knew that he was dying of cancer. He tells Robert that he hopes Christ will forgive him.

Brennan wasn't born with the birthmark. It appeared on his body the moment Satan accepted him as a follower. In the book, it explains about Father Brennan. He was born to a poor mom, who died from eating raw fish after she was too weak to forage for firewood. Brennan was orphaned, and taken in by an order of priests who literally beat the love of God in him. He was covered with scars by the time he accepted Christ and became a priest. He went on a mission to Africa, where he met an African boy and converted him as he himself has been "converted". They enjoyed a forbidden lust until they were discovered. The boy was mutilated, and Brennan barely escaped. He gradually found himself involved with a different kind of 'religious' order that enjoyed lusts and pleasures without guilt, which was what he wanted. So, he was indoctrinated into devil worship. He eventually was called upon to help arrange the rape of the jackal and of the disposal of Thorn's baby. He did not really want to kill the baby, but he did it. Then after the switch occurred and years passed, he became tormented by nightmares iin which he saw Christ who told him he was still welcome in Heaven if he repented. Brennan ignored the dreams and they eventually stopped. Then he became riddled with cancer, and suddenly decided to try for God's forgiveness after all by trying to warn Thorn.

The head count is seven. Starting with the first Thorn baby, there is (2) Damien's first nanny, then (3) Father Brennan, (4) photographer Keith Jennings, (5) Katherine Thorn, (6) Robert Thorn, and (7) Damien's second nanny, Mrs Baylock.

How does the movie end?

Robert is told by Carl Bugenhagen (Leo McKern) that he must kill Damien on hallowed ground, such as a church. Robert goes home and, after battling and killing Mrs Baylock, he drives to a church, Damien in tow. As he is about to plunge one of the daggers of Megiddo (the only knives that can kill Damien) into Damien, the police arrive and shoot Robert instead. The final scenes are at the cemetery where Robert and Katherine are being buried. Because Robert is the US ambassador, the President of the United States is in attendance. Holding his hand is Damien, who turns his head to smile at the camera.

Those who have both seen the movie and read the novelization say that the book closely follows the movie. There are some minor name changes, e.g., Father Brennan in the film becomes Father Tassone in the novel; Robert Thorn becomes Jeremy Thorn; Keith Jennings becomes Huber Jennings. More background information about the Thorns, the nanny, and the Satanists is presented in the novel.

Yes. This is due to a number of incidents that happened during and after the shooting of The Omen. For example, lightning struck both of the airplanes in which star Gregory Peck and screenwriter David Seltzer were flying to the UK to film the movie. While producer Harvey Bernhard was in Rome, lightning just missed him, too. After Peck canceled another flight to Israel, the plane he would have been in crashed, killing everyone on board. Director Richard Donner's hotel was bombed by the IRA, and he was also struck by a car. Rottweilers hired for the film attacked their trainers. A warden at the safari park used in the "crazy baboon" scene was attacked and killed by a lion the day after the crew left. During post-production, special effects artist John Richardson was injured while driving his BMW, and his girlfriend was beheaded in an accident on the set of A Bridge Too Far (1977).

Other movies that feature children who are not the little innocents they seem to be include The Bad Seed (1956) (remake The Bad Seed (1985)), Orphan (2009), Village of the Damned (1960) (remake Village of the Damned (1995)), Case 39 (2009), and The Good Son (1993)

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