The Omen again.
That whole parenting thing--leave that to the side for the moment. But, not too far to the side. The changeling child idea--central to the premise of the film--does tie back into the parenting. But it also suggests a larger notion of fear of the unknown, specifically fear of foreign unknowns, of foreign influence. I mean, this film puts us in the realm of international politics at the start. Robert Thorn is made the American ambassador to the UK not long after he and his wife get Damien in their lives. Father Brennan points Thorn and Jennings to Italy and then Israel to find, far from the modern trappings of the Thorns' life in England. Seriously, compare the excess of Damien's fifth birthday party to the ruins seen in Israel later in the film.
But, the real danger here is in the child influenced by... maybe it's foreign powers, maybe just belief systems to which we do not subscribe ourselves.
I was wondering why certain religious themes were prominent in films in the 70s. It's a little before my own meaningful experience. This is before the year of three popes, 1978. I don't know enough about Catholic history around that time to know if there was something else going on. So, I'm thinking what else ties together, say, The Omen and Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, Halloween even--children who do not follow in our footsteps. And, then it hits me--and I feel like an idiot because as a history major as an undergrad, the 1960s were my go-to topic, and just last spring I wrote a paper about the 1960s again, though focusing on a communication angle. It hits me that these movies come after a generation of youths have turned against their parents and the mainstream and set out to do their own thing. Taken this way, then, it's not about religion but about other deeply-rooted beliefs... Belief in America, belief in the status quo, in American exceptionalism and conservative values, in not jumping onto the bandwagon of the sexual revolution or the counterculture. The fear of satanism, like the fear of islam today, seems to come right along with a rise in liberalism and an embrace by a younger generation of ideas abhorrent to the powers that be.
Youths turn to sex, drugs and rock and roll, then adults freak out about the new kids they've got on the way (Rosemary's Baby) or newly arrived (The Omen) or going through puberty (The Exorcist). Coincidence?
Well, maybe, but that's the way zeitgeisty stuff works.