As a prequel to The Exorcist, Paul Schrader made the movie Dominion and the studio bosses were not happy with it so they fired him before his film could be finished and Renny Harlin was brought in to make his own version of a prequel called Exorcist: The Beginning, which was a very curious thing to happen in cinema history, and maybe a first, and then it might make one wonder how many other times this had been done, but to add to the oddity of this event, Paul Schrader was eventually allowed to release a near enough finished version of his film. Renny Harlin's movie was released in the cinema in 2005 and Paul Schrader's movie was shown in a limited release the following year, namely at film festivals and then released on DVD by the end of the year. To watch them both, after a while one may become confused about which film is which since they both share the lead actor Stellen Skarsgård as well as a few others cast members and take place in the same environment with the same sets.
|The formerly buried Byzantine Church as seen in Paul Schrader's Dominion|
|the idol in the cave as seen Paul Schrader's Dominion|
|blown up image of the idol|
b) Drawing Parallels with the Alien mysteries
When the films were both released on DVD, I immediately watched them and noticed that both films featured interesting imagery in the form of a 1500 year old Byzantine church built in the middle of nowhere built to cover over a place of sacrficial worship around a large idol. In Renny's Exorcist: The Beginning it was a definite representation of Pazuzu as seen in The Exoricist, but in Schrader's Dominion a slightly more abstract devil figure and the place of worship complete with sacrificial blood drains. So this reminded me of the relationship between the odd derelict and the silo beneath from Alien, the silo was originally suppose to be a birth temple with sacrificial plinth complete with blood drains. Also in Renny Harlin's movie, in their original exploration they enter through a hole in the roof and then lower themselves down with a rope since at the time the front entrance has been buried and it is only much later that they discover the cave beneath which contains the temple with the idol. It naturally seemed to have something in common with the the exploration of the alien pyramid discovered on the planetoid in the original Alien script by Dan O'Bannon.
Once we got to the point where Prometheus is released, we find a story about archeologists and a strange temple with strange murals, curious idols such as one almost in a crucified pose with perhaps the vague impressions of four wings trailing behind, the building is built in a desolate landscape that also leads into strange caves and tunnels and also houses something rather old and dangerous that transformed people into something rather hostile.
While the original Alien movie was made in the aftermath of the Exorcist and perhaps the Alien creature slight echoes the form of Pazuzu, Prometheus may well be redress the set of where the Exorcist prequels had gone before.
See also Pazuzu
and Dan, Summoner of the demon
|Stellen Skarsgård as Father Merrin standing before The Pazuzu from Exorcist The Beginning|
|The Pazuzu from Exorcist The Beginning|
|strange demon like relief on the wall on the set of the movie Prometheus|
In Renny Harlin's version, this idol also featured a small niche abstractly cut away into its chest for holding the head of a smaller version of this idol. The place was built perhaps to purify the sight and imprison the evil spirit. In a sketch for the huge idol in the form of the head of an engineer in Prometheus, Ridley had a thought about having a niche within the cheek in which an ampule would be placed. Of course it doesn't take a giant leap of the imagination to want to explore the concept but still it's a peculiar parallel to see
|small niche for head of a small Pazuzu idol that had been removed and is later lost in the sand|
|Ridley Scott's exploratory sketch for the idea of an ampule niche cut away into the side of the head|
d) Children of Quatermass And The Pit
Another thing that stood out from the movie was it's similarities to Quatermass And The Pit with its unearthing of a buried sight housing an ancient devil and its release drives the people around in a warring murderous state. Although one is on Earth and the other on another planet somewhere across the stars, and they both take inspiration in different ways from Nigel Kneale's Quatermass And The Pit made into a brilliant TV series and a film. Ridley had spoken about his interests in Quatermass And The Pit in the Prometheus director's commentary.
|A young boy and Father Merrin walking through the tunnels beneath the Byzantine church|