26 December, 1973
William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty (based on his novel)
Max von Sydow
Lee J Cobb
Mercedes McCambridge (voice)
Summary: Something is not right with Regan. Over time, she has dramatically changed - both in her behaviour and her appearance. It becomes apparent to her mother (Chris) that she needs help. The efforts of the medical professionals are useless, and in a desperate effort to save her daughter, Chris begs a priest (Father Karras) for his help – who then contacts Father Merrin. Convinced that Regan is possessed by the devil himself, the two begin exorcising Regan to cast out the demon and return her to her former self- however this is not an easy process…
My Favourite Scene: In the final exorcism scene, the possessed Regan breaks free of her straps and begins to levitate, while her eyes turn a glassy white. Chilling as this part of the scene is, it is actually the dialogue before, which I find most scary. Regan says: “You killed your mother. You left her alone to die.” The fact that the devil inside Regan is preying on Father Damien Karras’ guilt about his mother’s death, conveys not only the strength of the being – to be able to get inside his head and know what his darkest emotions and thoughts are – but also how twisted and cruel it is to make him suffer. I think something that makes the film particularly interesting is this combination of physical and mental power. The devil is able to not only perform incredible things (the levitation and spider-walk) but also somewhat infect people’s minds to gain control.
My Favourite Quotes:
Father Damien Karras: “I think it might be helpful if I gave you some background on the different personalities Regan has manifested. So far, I’d say there seem to be three.”
Father Merrin: “There is only one.”
Father Damien Karras: “Why her? Why this girl?”
Father Merrin: “I think the point is to make us despair. To see ourselves as… animal and ugly. To make us reject the possibility that God could love us.”
Demon: “I’m not Regan.”
My Thoughts: I have to admit, I found The Exorcist more disturbing than scary – but I think this is mainly because I was told from the age of about ten, that this film is the scariest of all time and I should probably wait until I’m in my twenties to watch it. So with my expectations extremely high, I was slightly let down in that it didn’t give me any sleepless nights! However I was not disappointed – in fact the opposite! This film really is quite chilling, I think because it takes a perfectly normal, innocent child and turns her into something very, very strange.
Something I really like about the film was the pace and how the plot was gradually built up. I think this was important in showing the contrast of Regan’s character from when she was a sweet young girl, to when she was completely possessed – projectile vomiting and levitating! The process of her going through doctor analysis after doctor analysis, test after test, gave a strangely realistic feel to the film. Regan’s mother was desperately trying to explain what was happening to her daughter. This portrayed the film to not simply be all ‘blood and guts’, but about a mother just wanting her daughter returned – even after the possessed Regan attacked her, she does not give up – going to the extreme of finding an exorcist to save her child.
The Exorcist was groundbreaking and since there have been various devil-possession films. At the time it caused outrage and protests among some religious groups for obvious reasons surrounding the subject matter! What I found particularly frightening about the film is the idea that possession is something we cannot control. In other films, psychopaths can be ‘caught’ and kept away from people, but this film shows that ‘demons’ are totally out of our control and do horrific things to people, with them having no means of escape.