"The Exorcist" celebrates Its 50th Anniversary!

It was an adaptation of the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty and tells the story of a demonic possession that frightens viewers.

Jan 3, 2024 - 11:43
Jan 3, 2024 - 11:51
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"The Exorcist"  celebrates Its 50th Anniversary!

After half a century, several sequels, and countless imitations, neither one of them has received the success of the original movie. The original was directed by William Friedkin. But the cult status that "The Exorcist" still enjoys today is due not only to the director but also to the screenwriter William Peter Blatty, who is also the author of the novel of the same name on which the film was based.

Blatty's novel spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list. It is sold more than 10 million copies, while the film adaptation topped $400 million at the box office worldwide. Also,  the film was nominated for as many as 10 Oscars, of which it won two, for best sound and screenplay. Also, the film earned eight Golden Globe nominations, four of which were winning: for best film, director, screenplay and Supporting Actress (Linda Blair).

"I made this film because I believe in the story. This movie was made by a believer. For me, the film is about the mystery of faith." Friedkin once said. "I know it was voted for a so-and-so horror film, but for me, it's about the mystery of faith. Even if you call yourself an atheist, you have to think about it. None of us have the answers. And as Hamlet said to his friend Horatio, 'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.'" he added.

In 1973, New York Times critic Vincent Canby overlooked the film as "a piece of elegant occult nonsense."  British critic Mark Kermode has seen it 200 times and considers it the best film ever made. But despite these reactions, the film became a hit. Now, with 50 years under its belt, "The Exorcist" continues to terrify audiences. Indeed, out of a list of 101 movies, IMDb rated it as the scariest movie ever in 2013, and in 2020 Rotten Tomatoes also ranked it number one. There are many reasons for its significant influence and power on pop culture. From its striking visuals, and disturbing subliminal messages, to the now iconic performances of the cast.

The cast turned out to be fantastically successful, even though it was largely made up of unknown or not-so-well-known actors at the time. However, several big names from that era were considered, such as Audrey Hepburn for the role of Chris McNeil, Stacy Keach who even initially signed the contract for the role of Father Karras, and Marlon Brando who could portray Father Merrin. Instead, the final cast provided a grounded atmosphere to the film, showcasing the talents of Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, and Max von Sydow in those roles. Max von Sydow was only 43 years old at the time, but he took care of his make-up to suit the role (make-up took at least four hours every day). Friedkin revealed that he was chosen for the role not only because he was a great actor, but because he "looked like Father Bowdern."

The most prominent subliminal trick was the "white face" that flashes for just a split second during Karras' dream of his dead mother. The audience was never supposed to fully reveal that face. "You couldn't catch that before VHS." - Friedkin stated. "And now you can pause the DVD and stare at it," he added.

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Post By: Vanessa F.