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Tag: Ellen Burstyn

The Exorcist

by on Oct.29, 2010, under Daily Review

Tubular Bells. That’s what this one is all about. Many films have catchy theme tunes, but this one is about as haunting as it gets. Mike Oldfield’s perfectly crafted score echoes through the film as we witness the possession of a young girl by an obscene spirit. The mother is at the end of her tether as any parent would be in this situation. The score is not only the sound of the movie, but the theme of their lives, we see a breakup of a household, a cry of help to medical science and finally religion, which seems to run the course of the film. But is it religion that saves Regan and takes the spirit or pure dedication on behalf of a guilt ridden man?

Let me break down the plot. A young girl, Regan (Linda Blair) becomes antisocial to the point of her actress mother Christine (Ellen Burstyn) having to seek medical help. Agitating the problem, uncovers a deeper problem, possession by the devil. Meanwhile, a local priest Father Karras (Jason Miller) is at conflict over his demented mother, haunted by the loss and the incarceration which leads to her death. His Father questions his son’s choice of career, hinting with a better vocation, his mother wouldn’t be in this situation. An instant question of faith. Karras is asked into the lives of Christine to help with Regan. I should have also mentioned the devil hunter, Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow), a priest dedicated to the art of exorcism.

The film is beautifully shot, very sterile and documentary for the most part with a cold wintry feel, low on colour, which allows the actors to truly take centre stage. This film is about people, interaction, emotion and loss. Christine is a single parent, wealthy, but lonely with only her daughter, Regan as any form of real company. Regan is without father desperate for attention. Father Karras is battling with his faith over the loss of his mother. He’s determined he’s made the correct vocation although still blames himself for his family’s hardship. The relationship between Karras and Christine is reflective in sex, wealth but reversal in the mother sibling role. It’s this connection which gives us the final conclusion, making a choice for a mother.

Dick Smith creates amazing effects here. A veteran in the art and here does a sterling job. I love Regan’s neck swelling up, but the full possessed Regan is very hard to beat. As far as scares goes, this one allows a slow build up through it’s clinical style to allow a sudden killer shock. Christine walking along the corridor towards Regan’s room is one of the first big hitting moments, opening the door to see the bed bouncing all over the place.

It’s been said that Director William Friedkin and writer William Peter Blatty had a difference of interests and artistic differences with the finished result of this film but it’s hard to fault and seems about as perfect a movie as could have been made. This is a big film, clever, deep, questioning and thinking at all times. It’s a great film with a very difficult subject matter; child possessions are always tricky through walking the balance of decency and believability. This was back in ’73 and as terrifying today as it was back then. Many have tried to recreate and nearly all fail. This is the original possession masterpiece.

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