Exorcists and Emperors: young actors play old, then play young again in flashbacks or prequels

Further to my post marking the 40th anniversary of The Exorcist, I thought it might be fun to look at one other way in which the Exorcist movies parallel the Star Wars franchise: namely, both series feature an actor who plays considerably older than his real age, and then, in at least one of the sequels or prequels, the actor plays more-or-less his real age in scenes set years or even decades earlier.

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The Hobbit and The Phantom Menace: a few similarities

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first part of a prequel trilogy that takes place decades before another trilogy, namely The Lord of the Rings. This is the most obvious thing that Peter Jackson’s newest film has in common with Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but are there any others?

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Oh what a tangled web the Bourne writers weave…

The constant retconning on the Bourne movies is really something to behold. The first sequel didn’t do anything too outrageous — it just added some flashbacks to an earlier point in “Jason Bourne’s” career — but it ended with an epilogue in which Bourne, an amnesiac, learns his real name. So the second sequel had to get a wee bit more inventive, if it was to keep this amnesiac-on-the-run storyline going; instead of picking up where the first sequel left off, the bulk of the second sequel actually takes place before the epilogue to the first sequel. And then, by the end of that second sequel, Bourne’s real name had been shared not only with Bourne himself but with the world at large. The amnesiac-on-the-run premise had been exhausted. The franchise simply had nowhere to go from there.

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Review: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (dir. Fred Niblo, 1925); Ben-Hur (dir. William Wyler, 1959)

General Lew Wallace had lived a colorful life of his own before his novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ was published in 1880. By then, he had defended Washington, D.C. from Confederates during the Civil War, served on the court-martial that tried Lincoln’s assassins, and, as Governor of New Mexico Territory, dealt with outlaws like Billy the Kid.

But what he really wanted to do was write — and so he wrote his novel about a Jewish prince who is betrayed by a Roman tribune during the time when Jesus lived. Ben-Hur was spurred by Wallace’s love of stories like The Count of Monte Cristo, but it was also motivated by an encounter with Robert Ingersoll, a famous agnostic who was passionately opposed to Christianity. Until that meeting, Wallace had been indifferent towards religion, but afterwards, he felt he needed to research Christianity for himself — and thus he became a believer.

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