This movie changed me: The Exorcist

By Johnny Foreigner

The Exorcist is among my most favorite movies (see Johnny Foreigner’s Top 20 Films of All Time). I agree with Lily Percy and Mark Kermode, who discuss the film on the podcast below, that The Exorcist is a film masterpiece.

Hearing Percy and Kermode dissect the story and film is a delight for anyone who loves either William Peter Blatty’s novel, or the 1973 film by William Friedkin. I would add that there are several scenes that elevate this movie from a campy horror to a brilliant classic: Burnstyn’s character Chris MacNeil nervously meeting Jason Miller’s Father Karras in a Georgetown park has always brought tears to my eyes – the way Burnstyn carefully navigates to her question, “how does one go about getting an exorcism” before falling apart. “it’s my little girl!” I’ve cried during that scene more than once – and it wasn’t from fear. Also, any parent who has been to the brink of despair as their child suffers through medical tests, relates to Burnstyn’s character in the scene when doctors suggest a second spinal tap. Later, when talking with Miller’s Father Karras she cries out in frustration, “Jesus Christ, won’t somebody help me?” Yet Chris MacNeil never really embraces “the power of Christ” or Catholicism. She merely embraces anyone or anything who can help her daughter. Unforgettable characterization.

I’ve always been moved by one of the film’s last scenes, when Burnstyn asks Miller/Karras “is she going to die?” Sitting alone on the stairs, Karras feels mentally and spiritually defeated. Karras is fighting an additional battle, as he knows Regan is in danger of dying from the stress on her heart. Yet Karras repies “No,” and lifts himself back up the stairway, determined to beat the devil. Such a moment.

In his 1973 lukwarm review, film critic Roger Ebert wrote that The Exorcist was “a triumph of special effects.” Nonsense. Without the heartbreakingly human characterizations created by Burnstyn, and Jason Miller – the film would have failed, pea soup, revolving heads, and all.

As for the title theme of this podcast, this movie changed me as well,

Listen to the podcast below

The Exorcist is known for being absolutely terrifying, but film critic Mark Kermode argues that it’s also a masterpiece. He was too young to see the movie when it was released and had to wait six years before he could watch it in a theater. Decades later, he has made documentaries about The Exorcist, written long essays and a book about it, and even became friends with the movie’s director and screenwriter. But he says every time he watches the movie, he’s still taken back to the experience of transcendence and magic he experienced when he watched the movie for the first time. [ . . . ]

ONEBEING.ORG

Continue reading podcast transcript at the source: ONEBEING.ORG

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