The Omen | 2006
30 years on from the classic original, this scene-for-scene remake adds little but a vague contemporary relevance with shots of 9/11 and political unrest. There’s a top-notch cast, though, with the great Peter Postlethwaite giving it his all and the inspired casting of Mia Farrow as infernal nanny Mrs Baylock – come on, who could be better to bring up a demonic child than Rosemary Woodhouse?
It takes place largely in a very odd low-rise London of multi-coloured houses, cobbled street, tram-lines, Gothic spires and a sign reading ’Mestska Cast Praha 2’.
Yes, the film was made in Prague, Czech Republic.
The ‘Vatican Observatory’, from which the strange astronomical formation watched is Štefánikova hvězdárna (Štefánik Observatory), Strahovská 205, 118 00 Praha 1 in Petřín (tel: 420.257.320.540).
Opened in 1928 in the heart of Prague, the Observatory was rebuilt in the 1970s and reopened in 1976. It can be reached by funicular railway from Újezd to Petřín.
The ‘Vatican library’ is our old friend, the Theological Hall of the Library of Strahov Monastery, Strahovské nádvoří 1/132, Strahov, a district of Prague on the west bank of the Vltava. It appears again as the interior of 'Buckingham Palace' in Albert and Allen Hughes's From Hell, with Johnny Depp, and in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. You can see the adjoining Philosophical Hall in the 2006 Bond movie Casino Royale.
This ‘Embassy’ is the Prague Congress Center, 5. května 1640/65, 140 21 Praha 4, and the London landmarks were added digitally. Just look at the very un-London-like reverse shot across the River Vltava.
The Ambassador’s spectacularly vast new home is Zámek Lednice (Lednice Castle), Zámek 1 in Lednice, a Neo-Gothic fantasy. Lednice is a village in South Moravia, and the castle and its grounds are open to visitors.
The foyer of the opera house, where Ambassador Thorn (Live Schreiber) is confronted by Father Brennan (Peter Postlethwaite) is the familiar interior of the Národní Muzeum, Natural History Museum, Václavské nám 68. The museum has been closed for several years for major renovations, no doubt helped by the locations fees earned by its appearances as the ‘embassy’ in Brian De Palma’s 1996 Mission: Impossible, the lobby of a grand ‘Venetian’ hotel in Casino Royale and as the 'art gallery' in From Hell.
When Father Brennan asks to meet Thorn, the film keeps the name of the original location, 'Bishop's Park', which is alongside the Thames in Fulham, southwest London.
The two actually meet up under the stone arch of Karluv Most (Charles Bridge) on the Mala Strana (Lesser Town) side of the Vltava. The double staircase up which the terrified Brennan runs is the same one used by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as the mission goes wrong in Mission: Impossible.
Young Damien begins to betray his diabolical leanings by throwing a major wobbly as he’s driven to church, this time the twin-spired Kostel sv. Ludmily (Church of Saint Ludmila), Náměstí Míru 1219/2 in the Vinohrady district.
The ‘hospital’ in ‘Rome’, where Thorn and photographer Jenner (David Thewlis) try to discover more about the birth of Damien is the exterior of Prague’s new National Theatre, Laterna Magika, Národní 4, claimed to be the world's first multimedia theatre.
Thorn is directed to the village of ‘Megiddo’ in ‘Israel’, where he’s horrified by the solution offered by Bugenhagen (Michael Gambon). The streets are those of the Italian town of Matera, previously seen in Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ, as well as Pier Paolo Pasolini's vastly superior The Gospel According to Matthew and in Bruce Beresford's largely forgotten 1985 King David, with Richard Gere.
Finally convinced of the boy’s diabolical origins, Thorn drives the frantic Damien along Jugoslávská to Náměstí Míru (Peace Square) and to the Church of Saint Ludmila once again. But that's not where the film actually ends.
The florid interior, where his terrible mission is thwarted by the police, is that of Kladruby Monastery, Pozorka 1, in the town of Kladruby, 80 miles west of Prague.
Founded in 1115 by Duke Vladislav I, the church was, inevitably, rebuilt in the Gothic-Baroque style in 1726. In 1785 Emperor Joseph II dissolved the monastery, selling off its furnishings, and the buildings were subsequently used as a hospice, barracks, and military hospital – from 1864, a brewery was developed in the new convent.