Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pater noster, qui es in caelis

This being Fathers' Day, we could look at a movie with one of the more interesting father/son relationships: The Omen. It's a fun, if not particularly good or realistic, movie about an American ambassador (played by Gregory Peck), who discovers that his son Damien is not actually his, but was switched at birth with the Antichrist. Despite being a family, it's really not suitable for TCM's Essentials Jr. series.

However, I wanted to point out the movie for a different reason: the paternoster. The Latin words pater noster, meaning "our father", are the first words in Latin of the Lord's Prayer, and "Our Father" might be an appropriate topic for Father's Day. However, as a conjoined word, a paternoster is a piece of technology that has more or less been supplanted by the elevator. A paternoster worked more or less like a vertical chair lift in that it was constantly moving, and had several compartments, unlike an elevator, which only has the one cab. To use a paternoster, one would wait for one of these compartments to reach the floor one was on, and then hop in, hopping back out when it reached the floor one wanted to go to. Since it never stops moving, it's not really suitable for the wheelchair-bound, which is one of the reasons why it's fallen out of favor and been supplanted by the elevator. But if you watch The Omen carefully, there's a scene in which Peck is visiting the hospital where his son was born. While talking to one of the nuns, you can see a working paternoster in the background.

No comments: