A blog dealing with either the joy of cinema or the agony of cinema--nothing in between.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
The Exorcist is a film that puts all modern horror films to shame. Having not seen the movie since grade school, I remembered it as being strictly about the exorcism itself, when actually the movie is about setting the tone and character development all leading up to the unforgettable finale. The story revolves around a female movie star filming in Washington, D.C. Her young daughter begins to exhibit strange behavior and the doctors write it off as hyper activity, prescribing Ritalin which may be a shot at the treatment of ADHD children. However, the girl's symptoms worsen and become even more bizarre even supernatural and after all avenues are exhausted, it seems that the virtually defunct route of exorcism is the only way to go. At the same time we also are introduced to the two priests who will eventually perform the ritual, an older devout missionary and a robust psychologist struggling with his own faith. Watching William Friedkin's masterpiece I was reminded of The Shining and even Jaws by how tension was built and we only get little glimpses of the ultimate terror that awaits at the end. In addition to the utterly engrossing narrative, we also have a wonderful array of actors at work: Ellen Burstyn brings believability to her role as the outraged and befuddled mother. Linda Blair does good work in a brutal role as the young girl. Max von Sydow and Jason Miller are pitch perfect as the priests and Lee J Cobb is great as well in a fun and maybe unnecessary role as a police detective. Watching the film I couldn't have been any more involved and I actually got chills during von Sydow's iconic entry (pictured above). If I am remembering correctly, I think this struck a chord with the Church, but I found it to be a profoundly Catholic film, showing the resolute nature of the clergy (how often are Catholic priests presented favorably, besides Bing Crosby?). The Exorcist is a horror film that doesn't resort to cheap boo! moments but rather earns scares by creating tension and mood.