The Exorcist (1973)
Somewhere between science and superstition, there is another world.
The world of darkness.

The Exorcist (1973)
Somewhere between science and superstition, there is another world. The world of darkness.

An American Horror film directed by William Friedkin adapted from the 1971 novel of the same title by William Peter Blatty, dealing with the demonic possession of a young girl, and her mothers desperate attempts to win back her daughter through an exorcism conducted by two priests.

The Exorcist is a 1973 American horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted from the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty and based on the exorcism case of Robbie Mannheim, dealing with the demonic possession of a young girl and her mother’s desperate attempts to win back her daughter through an exorcism conducted by two priests.

The film is one of a cycle of 'demonic child' movies produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Rosemary's Baby and The Omen.

The film became the most profitable horror film of all time and one of the highest earning movies in general, grossing $401,400,000 worldwide (and a further $112,053,066 for the Director's Cut re-release in 2000), and at the time of release briefly became the highest-grossing film of all time, until being surpassed one year later by Steven Spielberg's Jaws.

The film has had a huge effect on popular culture. The film earned ten Academy Award nominations—winning two, one for Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay, and losing Best Picture to The Sting.

Along with the novel on which it was based, Blatty's script has been published several times over the years. The Exorcist contained a number of special effects, engineered by makeup artist Dick Smith.

Roger Ebert, while praising the film, believed the effects to be so unusually graphic he wrote, "That it received an R rating and not the X is stupefying." Theaters provided "Exorcist barf bags". Because of death threats against Linda Blair, Warner Bros. hired bodyguards to protect her for six months after the film's release.

The Exorcist Blu-ray Trailer

The Exorcist was commercially released in the United States by Warner Bros. on December 26, 1973, and re-released on March 17, 2000, with a restored version released on September 22, 2000.

It was named the scariest movie of all time by Entertainment Weekly and and by viewers of AMC in 2006, and was #3 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

The film was selected in 2010 to be preserved by the Library of Congress as part of its National Film Registry.

Aspects of the film are based upon a rite of exorcism performed by the Jesuit priest, Fr. William S. Bowdern, who formerly taught at both St. Louis University and St. Louis University High School.

The Exorcist Plot

Starting at an archaeological dig in Al-hadar near Nineveh in Iraq, Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow), an archaeologist, visits a site where a small stone is found, resembling a grimacing, bestial creature.

Merrin travels onward to find the strange statue of Pazuzu, which has a head similar to the one found earlier.Meanwhile, another priest, Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), a young priest at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother's terminal illness.

The main story follows Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), an actress filming in Georgetown, who notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior of her 12-year-old daughter, Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair). Regan has a seizure, then exhibits strange, unnatural powers including levitation and great strength.

Regan curses and blasphemes in a demonic male voice. Chris initially believes Regan's changes are related to puberty, but doctors suspect a lesion in her brain. Regan endures a series of unpleasant medical tests. When X-rays show nothing out of the ordinary, a doctor advises that Regan be taken to a psychiatrist, whom she assaults.

Paranormal occurrences continue, including a violently shaking bed, strange noises, and unexplained movements. Along with these things, the director of Chris MacNeil's film, Burke Dennings (Jack MacGowran), is found brutally murdered outside the MacNeil residence.

Rare Exorcist Trailer

When all medical explanations are exhausted, a doctor recommends an exorcism, suggesting that if Regan's symptoms are a psychosomatic result of a belief in demonic possession, then perhaps an exorcism would have the psychosomatic effect of ending them.

In desperation, Chris consults Karras, since he is both a priest and a psychiatrist.

During a period in which Karras observes Regan, she constantly refers to herself as the Devil. Karras initially believes her to be merely suffering from psychosis, until he records her speaking in a strange language which turns out to be English spoken backwards.

Despite his doubts, Karras decides to request permission from the Church to conduct an exorcism.

Merrin, an experienced exorcist, is summoned to Washington to help. He and Father Karras try to drive the spirit from Regan. The demon threatens and taunts both priests, both physically and verbally (including the demon using the voice of Karras' mother), and Merrin dies of a heart attack.

Karras attempts to perform CPR to no avail. Regan giggles as Karras tries to save Merrin. Karras strikes her and chokes her, challenging the demon to leave Regan and enter him. The demon does so, whereupon the priest throws himself through Regan's bedroom window and falls down the steps outside.

At the bottom, a devastated Father Dyer (William O'Malley)—and friend of Father Karras—administers last rites as Father Karras dies. Regan is restored to health and does not appear to remember her ordeal. Chris and Regan leave Georgetown and their trauma behind.

The Fear of God: 25 Years of 'The Exorcist'

The Exorcist became a cultural phenomenon upon its release.

This making-of documentary tells the story of its creation and describes how audiences reacted to it. Interviews with cast and crew are shown.

A behind-the-scenes retrospective made for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the classic horror film, The Exorcist.

Includes interviews with Linda Blair and the other stars of the film, along with commentary from the director and writer on some of the deeper meanings behind the elements they used to terrify their audiences.

Urban legends and on-set incidents

Many of the film's participants claimed the film was cursed. Screenplay writer William Peter Blatty stated on video that there were some strange occurrences during the filming.

Lead actress Ellen Burstyn indicated some rumors are true in her 2006 autobiography 'Lessons in Becoming Myself'.

Due to a studio fire, the interior sets of the MacNeil residence (with the exception of Regan's bedroom) had to be rebuilt and caused a setback in pre-production. Friedkin claimed that a priest was brought in numerous times to bless the set.

After difficulties encountered in the New York production, Blatty asked Fr. King to bless the Washington crew on its first day of filming at the foot of Lauinger Library's steps to 37th Street. The incident was recounted in Fr. King's 2009 Washington Post obituary.

Other issues include Blair's harness breaking when she is thrashing on the bed causing permanent damage to the actor's spine. While filming the vaginal crucifix stabbing scene, Ellen Burstyn was seriously injured when the crew pulled her harness too hard after Blair hits her across the bedroom.

Irish actor Jack MacGowran died from influenza shortly after he filmed his role as director Burke Dennings. The son of Mercedes McCambridge, who did the voice-over for the demon, killed himself, his wife, and children in a murder-suicide in 1987.

The Exorcist was also at the center of controversy due to its alleged use of subliminal imagery.

A detailed article in the July/August 1991 issue of Video Watchdog examined the phenomenon, providing still frames identifying several usages of subliminal "flashing" throughout the film.

In an interview from the same issue, Friedkin explained, "I saw subliminal cuts in a number of films before I ever put them in The Exorcist, and I thought it was a very effective storytelling device... The subliminal editing in The Exorcist was done for dramatic effect — to create, achieve, and sustain a kind of dreamlike state."

However, these quick, scary flashes have been labeled "not truly subliminal" and "quasi-" or "semi-subliminal". True subliminal imagery must be, by definition, below the threshold of awareness.

In an interview in a 1999 book about the movie, The Exorcist author William Blatty addressed the controversy by explaining that, "There are no subliminal images. If you can see it, it's not subliminal."

The Exorcist became a cult hit, but many of the individuals involved in the film noticed strange occurrences during filming. It is claimed that a priest was brought in numerous times to bless the set.