The Prophecy (1995) – Gregory Widen

There are a number of movies that seemed tied inextricably with my memories of working at Jumbo Video in the mid-90s, and The Prophecy is one of them. No one I know saw it in the theatre, but once we received a screener copy for it in the store, it made the rounds, and I know that all of us kind of dug the idea, and then you get to the cast… Look at this – Christopher Walken, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, Elias Koteas, Viggo Mortensen and Amanda Plummer. Holy crap!

Playing within religious trappings and texts to tell a new take on a story has always been fascinating to me, and Gregory Widen who both wrote and directed the film must have the same fascination, because he looks at angels, the seraphim, and points out, quite rightly, that no matter how much western culture has romanticised the notion of these beings, you probably wouldn’t want to meet one. They tend to be god’s (God’s?) soldiers, sure they can deliver the occasional message, but can also kill, turn you to salt, and be the embodiment of the capital A Almighty’s righteous vengeance.

This story plays with that idea, and talks about the First War in heaven, following the fall of Lucifer (deliciously played in the film by Mortenson). God elevated man to he his most loved creation, supplanting the Angels. He gave souls and choice to humanity, to the Angels he gave faith and the Word. Not all the angels like being replaced, and a war has raged ever since, with God being unavailable for comment, and the gates of heaven locked to those who would pass through them to paradise.

Now, there is a dark soul, that if it be claimed before Lucifer drags it down to hell (Hell?), can turn the tide of the war. Simon (Stoltz) has found it, when a Colonel with a dark, sadistic and violent streak died,and he’s hidden it, but Gabriel (Walken) who is leading the fight to restore angels to their place in God’s Kingdom, is determined to find it.

Two humans, a would-be priest turned cop (doubting) Thomas (Koteas) and a teacher, Katherine (Madsen), get pulled into it, when one of her students, (of course) Mary (Moriah ‘Shining Dove’ Snyder) is serving as the new home to the colonel’s dark soul.

I dig this film, there’s a whole world and mythology at work from the get go that we as viewers only get glimpses of, but I love when a film does that, giving us hints of a grander picture, something that we are only peripherally involved in. Sure, in this case, it’s using a lot of Christian texts, but it also touches on some Native American traditions, but I love the way the film interprets it and takes it in its own direction.

The film spawned a number of sequels of diminishing returns but that first one still entertains me, and sends me down a wonderful rabbit hole of nostalgia.

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