The Exorcist – Children’s week

Please accept my humble apologies for the long delay in blogging. My baby daughter gave birth to her own baby daughter earlier this week. We were blessed to have a week to go down and see friends and family (although we’ll have to tighten our belts this month as it was a week without pay).

In celebration of the birth of our littlest angel, I thought I’d feature movies about angelic tykes. What’s that you say? There aren’t any? Hrrrrm. I guess we’ll feature the opposite then.

The Exorcist

WATCH: The Exorcist (1973) – Rated R

“If this horror classic doesn’t terrify you, maybe you need a shrink. Movie actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) realizes an evil spirit may possess her daughter (Linda Blair). Against formidable odds, two priests (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller) try to exorcise the demon. A superb meditation about the nature of evil, The Exorcist was created with adults in mind and isn’t appropriate for youngsters.”

“You’re going to die up there.”

William Peter Blatty wrote the screenplay from his own novel as well as producing. He won an Oscar for the screenplay as well as a nomination for Best Picture. The slow burn in the script and fairly logical progression while establishing the characters really works.

William Friedkin’s direction is superb. There is a wonderful tracking shot as Father Karras and Lt. Kinderman have their first discussion. A shot of the Pazuzu statue and Father Merrin is gorgeously framed. The first death is never even shown (something unheard of today) but is merely mentioned and slowly developed through dialogue.

Performances are all great here. Linda Blair’s breakthrough role as Regan is a tour de force. She goes from a sweet young child to a quite profane demon without missing a beat. Max von Sydow is marvelous as the wise Father Merrin as is Jason Miller as the tortured Father Karras. Ellen Burstyn (as the suffering mother), Jason Miller, and Linda Blair were all nominated for Academy Awards for their performances.

The Exorcist develops fairly slowly but is well worth the time investment. Much of what was shocking at the time has become trite now although it does still break some serious taboos. It’s the feeling that the characters are real people and the gradual ratcheting up of tension that make this an absolute classic.

People Watch: Author William Peter Blatty has a cameo as a producer.