When a child is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
Release Year: 1973
Rating: 8.1/10 (148,468 voted)
Critic's Score: 82/100
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
Storyline A visiting actress in Washington, D.C., notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, a young priest at nearby Georgetown University begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother's terminal sickness. And, book-ending the story, a frail, elderly priest recognizes the necessity for a show-down with an old demonic enemy.
Writers: William Peter Blatty, William Peter Blatty
Cast: Ellen Burstyn
Max von Sydow
Lee J. Cobb
Lt. William Kinderman
Father Damian Karras
(as Reverend William O'Malley S.J.)
Dr. Barringer - Clinic Director
(as Pete Masterson)
Nobody expected it, nobody believed it, and nobody could stop it. The one hope, the only hope: THE EXORCIST
Filming Locations: 3600 Prospect Street, Georgetown, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: £151,714
(21 June 1998)
Did You Know?
The bedroom set had to be refrigerated to capture the authentic icy breath of the actors in the exorcising scenes. Linda Blair, who was only in a flimsy nightgown, says to this day she cannot stand being cold.
Crew or equipment visible:
In the birds-eye view of the scene where Damien is running around the track before meeting the detective, there is a fly on the camera lens.
They've found something... small pieces.
The truth about the Exorcist.
There's a lot of anxiety that goes into viewing The Exorcist, "the
scariest movie ever made", for the very first time. And with that
anxiety comes a lot of expectations and preconceived ideas about what
The Exorcist *should* be. Especially for someone born after the film.
Then on top of that waited years before finally seeing it.
I love the Exorcist, and after exposure to God knows how many horror
films, the Exorcist remains my favorite within the genre. And even from
a die-hard fan I have to admit, I hate hearing "scariest movie of all
time" associated with this movie.
First of all, there's no reason to compare fright factor of films, so
forget that anyone ever called The Exorcist "the scariest movie ever
made." Take any movie I don't care what movie and stick a
"greatest/scariest/best" whatever tag next to it, and you'll have
audiences investing in what they *think* it should be instead of
letting the film present itself for what it is. And all they see is
that it is not what they expected (expectations, I might add, that are
shaped by the current gimmicks and trends in Hollywood).
I love the Exorcist because it dared to defy my expectations. This is
not a wall-to-wall, credits-to-credits montage of scary imagery
inspired by a mere scenario that's supposed to pass as a plot. This
isn't a movie about that long dark corridor and something waiting to
jump out of the darkness and attack (which is always preceded by a
false scare featuring a cat). It's not about that cheap gimmicky
scenario of X amount of people isolated from the rest of the world,
with a killer/monster/ghost/whatever on the loose.
The Exorcist is a very slow movie that actually features a full blown
plot, its characters, and their associated arcs. The original ambition
of The Exorcist was to scare the world with imagery and concepts never
before seen in cinema. Shocking moments that the audience of 1973 could
not believe they would ever see on the silver screen (from a major
studio, no less.) After 30 years, the movie isn't so shocking because
times have changed, and the success of the Exorcist has guaranteed
countless imitation in all forms across all boards. However, the
Exorcist is still one of the most ambition horror films ever made,
because (are you ready for this?) the Exorcist dares to tell a story.
Everyone remembers the pea soup, the head spinning, the vulgarities
spewed from the demon's mouth, the stairs, the infamous cut (now
restored) spider walk. But I adore this movie for the things no one
seems to bring up I love the setup in Iraq where Father Lancaster
Merrin detects the signs of his final showdown, and how these abstract
scenes on subsequent viewings give the movie a more epic feel. I love
the transition from Chris MacNeil to Father Karras walking across
campus that's reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock. I became absorbed
watching Father Karras caring for his aging mother and the close
relationship they have, seeing him depressed and sharing a drink with a
fellow priest as he discusses his own issues with faith.
And what impresses me most about a movie named the Exorcist is how it
seems to reject the possibility of possession and exorcism as its
ultimate and final solution. The characters in the movie don't want it
to be true, and in fact don't really even know about the possibility of
Exorcism, thus they explore and exhaust all other possibilities (both
medical and psychological). I smiled with delight (after all the
hospital scenes) in that priceless moment when Chris MacNeil asks
Karras, "And how does one go about getting an exorcism?" which stops
father Karras in his tracks as he, a man of the church, looks at her as
though she's lost her mind.
The fact that the movie resists the temptation to jump right into the
acknowledgment that Regan is possessed continues to build up the epic
Good versus Evil, God versus Satan, the exorcist versus the demon,
feel. Like the characters, the movie doesn't want it to be true, it
doesn't want to go there and embrace that possibility, but we the
audience know what must inevitably happen. And it's almost magical how
the movie finally acknowledges Regan's only hope. There's no glorious
fanfare nor is there boastful ultimatums, instead the movie lamentingly
and silently surrenders to it as we watch Lancaster Merrin walking up
the sunny garden path, staring down at a newly delivered envelope. He
doesn't have to read it. He already knows what it says, as do we.
The imagery then fades to an ominous foggy night as a taxi pulls up to
the MacNeil place in Georgetown, then we're treated to the haunting
imagery that inspired the cover art. What must be done, must be done. I
love how the movie implies that Merrin has faced this very demon before
through its imagery, and through the dialogue as Karras explains he's
identified at least three manifestations to which Merrin answers, "No.
There is only one." I can address more the acting, the beautiful
cinematography, brilliant makeup but I'll stop to keep from sounding
like a raving fan who over hypes every inch of everything. I'll close
with these thoughts: I'm not the type of person who will watch the same
movie over and over and over. Most movies I see, the specific imagery
and specific ideas don't make a deep enough impression to stick with me
for more than a few months. I remember the Exorcist, not because I
thought it was the "scariest movie ever made", rather because of the
wonderful craftsmanship, the fact that it dared to tell a story, and it
defied my expectations.
When Friday the 13th, the Grudge, Skeleton Key, and Cursed are reduced
to vague memories and general ideas, I will still clearly remember the