Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dominion


I finally saw Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist by Paul Schrader.

Now, some of you may know, I'm not the biggest fan of The Exorcist out here in movie buff land. It certainly has things to be said for it, but somehow it all feels entirely too dependent on a belief in the mythology surrounding it. I've never quite understood what scared the non-Christians (or even non-Catholic Christians, for that matter) watching. I understand that it had shocking moments, some well-done terror imagery, but I don't understand what stayed with them after the lights came back on.

This, on the other hand, is exactly what I would have liked more of from that film.

This is the film one should expect - that the studio should have expected - from the man Martin Scorsese chose to write the screenplay for The Last Temptation of Christ to make from this type of material. It's thoughtful and slow. The drama comes creeping from characters who each suffer their own guilt that rises to the surface as the evil moves its face slowly out of the shadow.

It certainly needed the money to finish it properly. The CGI effects are particularly poor, as has often been noted. But I think that would be my one and only complaint.

The mood builds very nicely. The acting is absolutely amazing. The religious aspects are developed fully as a defining context and struggle for the characters in a way that made them fully empathetic to me as a non-believer, but I'm sure would also be wholly understandable and real to fellow believers.

This is a character drama that uses religion and horror as backdrops and metaphors for broader ideas, which is as those things should be. It's disappointed many. Some, I suppose, were hoping for the shocks of the original. Some were probably not up to the thoughtful pacing. Some probably just never got past the problems of a film that's only mostly finished... Who knows?

I, however, found it quite compelling.

A couple of side notes of interest to me. Scorsese is a vocal fan of Mario Bava, in fact he wrote an introduction for the upcoming Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark by Tim Lucas. One must expect from seeing the lighting and on-set style effects in this film that his once partner in crime also has an admiration for the Italian master.

It also joins 28 Days Later and Land of the Dead in having a number of things that I had been planning for my zombie epic. This one features a significant character named "Granville" and prominent reference to Saint Sebastian. Probably not as big as the others, but I noticed.

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