Jump to content

Exorcist: The Beginning


Recommended Posts

I was rather surprised to see that CanWest News Service critic Jay Stone (formerly of the Ottawa Citizen) gave it 2.5 stars out of 5 this morning. Like, wow.

utzworld wrote:

: Let's look at the (original) ending: Father Merrin dies and Father Karras angrily

: invites the demons to enter him and then he jumps...not falls...out of a window to

: his death. IMHO, that's not exactly presenting the Lord as victorious over the

: power of Satan.

True, Stephen Lawhead argued almost 20 years ago, in a book called Turn Back the Night (one of the first books I ever read on Christians and pop culture, FWIW), that films like The Exorcist play to the idea that Evil is Strong, but Good is Lucky.

I'm not so sure I buy that interpretation myself, though. The first film tells us that Merrin's earlier exorcism took months, so it seems to me the novel and the film did the whole dying-priest thing to expedite the ending to the story, but also to introduce a sacrificial element.

Interestingly, this is one way in which Exorcist: The Beginning may be MORE Christian than the original film -- Good is not merely Lucky or Tricksy, but actually Strong.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, BTW, I looked up the Golden Turkey Awards entry on Exorcist II: The Heretic (pp. 300-306), and apart from some nastily funny comments on the film, they also report that there are multiple versions of it -- it looks like they could put out seamless-branched or two-disc "special editions" for ALL FOUR of these films:

Ms. Burstyn had the good sense not to get involved this time, but Von Sydow is back . . . and so, unfortunately, is Linda Blair. Four years older and about forty pounds heavier than she was in the original, this chubby chickadee could attract only a very low-grade demon, which, in fact, Pazuzu proves himself to be. . . .

There are now two Linda Blairs (one was entirely bad enough, thank you) representing the struggle of good and evil over her soul. The naughty child is dressed as a hooker and tries to seduce Father Richard into an alliance with the Devil but Burton, through a superhuman effort of the will, somehow resists her pudgy charms. . . . At last, the filmmakers can think of no other way to conclude their masterpiece, and so the house itself collapses in a pile of rubble, killing the grasshoppers but leaving Linda Blair (the wholesome version -- you can tell from the halo) and Father Burton to wander off into the sunset together, trying to figure out what has happned to them. . . .

So, what do you do when your work of art is being jeered off the screen wherever it's shown? You go back to the old moviola machine, that's what, and try once more to splice the thing together. . . . Since everyone cracked up at the sight of Burton and Blair emerging unscathed from the collapsing Georgetown house at the film's conclusion, the new version buries Burton with the bugs and no doubt gives vent to some of the director's resentment toward his temperamental star. The revised movie -- known to Hollywood cynics as Exorcist III -- concluded by showing Linda Blair with locusts at her feet, beginning a magic dance (and apparently preparing for her next role in Roller Boogie) that makes the insects disappear. We are led to believe that she learned this fetching two-step from the saintly healer Kokumo -- after all, don't most American popular dances have African origins? Before Blair or the audience can pause to ask questions, the credits are quickly shoved onto the screen. Warner Brothers shipped these new last reels to all the theaters that had rented the film; the cost of this last-minute switcheroo ran to more than $1 million.

It didn't help; audiences continued to hoot and belch, while votes for Exorcist II continued to pour in to our Worst Films Poll. In desperation, Director Boorman took one more stab at revising his film, preparing yet another recut version to placate the angry masses. This time Warner Brothers refused to indulge him with the American public, thoguh they did use this latest edition (Exorcist IV?) for distribution overseas. . . .

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, now, THIS is getting crazy.

- - -

Battle of the Exorcists?

Director Renny Harlin's The Exorcist: The Beginning opened Friday to hellish buzz and several hellish reviews. Could another version of the film, directed by Paul Schrader but shelved in favor of Harlin's take, have fared better? Audiences may yet find out. Morgan Creek, the production company behind The Exorcist: The Beginning, a prequel to the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, may release Schrader's film theatrically, its president hinted this week.

E! Online, August 20

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, since the Exorcist II: The Heretic is being discussed I thought I might post a review by a guy named Mike Sutton who's opinions I always found interesting. I don't know what happend to Mike, he dropped off the internet a few years ago. Mike really liked The Exorcist II and wrote a tremendous review of it. It caused me to reassess my feelings on the movie (which I hated). I still don't think the movie is very good but in light of Mike's review I do find it more of a curiosity rather than an outright faliure.

EXORCIST II THE HERETIC

John Boorman has always been a director with the rare quality of genuine

ambition. He has big ideas and he wants us to share them. Unfortunately, the

public have not always wanted to join in, and his most ambitious films tend to

have failed with critics and at the box office. "Exorcist II The Heretic" is one

of the most reviled films in genre history, and it will probably never be

completely rehabilitated by its admirers. I'm not sure if it can be reclaimed as

a great film, but it is a very interesting one, and fits in perfectly with

Boorman's usual obsessions about spirituality.

The film takes place four years after "The Exorcist". The Vatican feels that

enough time has elapsed to avoid too much embarrassment, and they send Father

Philip Lamont (Richard Burton) to investigate the death of Father Merrin during

the Regan MacNeil exorcism. We have first seen Lamont in Africa, attempting an

exorcism which seems to fail. The opening image, of Lamont bathed by shafts of

light, sets up the central good/evil, light/darkness concepts of the film, and

it's interesting to compare this with the moment in "The Exorcist" when Merrin

arrives at the house and is bathed in pure white light. Boorman's film is

considerably more complex in its theology than Friedkin's - Friedkin sets up

good versus evil, Boorman suggests something much more interesting, as we will

discover.

This opening exorcism is powerfully visualised, the victim screaming in

animalistic utterances and then pleading to Lamont, "Why me ? I healed the

sick." Well, the answer is simple - it is her _because_ she healed the sick, but

Lamont doesn't yet realise this. She knocks over candles and her robe ignites,

as she burns in a martyr's pose. Three important images of people inflamed in

the film - flames suggesting both destruction and purification.

The woman's screaming becomes the wail of a saxaphone, as we meet Regan in the

first of the embarrassing tap dance scenes. Presumably intended to establish

that she is normal again, they simply succeed in looking ridiculous. Linda Blair

has lost her naturalness since the first film, having become a typical Hollywood

teenager, without a hint of spontaneity.  This works against the film, which

intends to establish Regan as a being capable of either great good or great

evil. Here, she looks like she is barely capable of a few simple tap steps.

Another recurrent image of the film is non-communication. When we first see Dr

Gene Tuskin (Louise Fletcher) she is trying to communicate with a deaf and dumb

girl through a pane of glass, and not succeeding. People constantly try to

communicate in this film and fail, whether because of church bureaucracy,

language barriers or the influence of the demon. This ties in with the central

suggestion of a God under seige from forces of evil, meaning that he can no

longer hold his flock together, so people have stopped listening to him, just as

they can no longer communicate with each other.

The other important image in this scene occurs when Regan picks up a china model

of a dove. There are constant images of flying throughout the film, linked

usually with the demon, the locust god Pazuzu - a demon who is associated not

only with images of death and evil, but also with energy and sometimes beauty.

Lamont arrives at the Vatican and protests that he is not the right man to

investigate the death of Merrin. He believes that God has fallen silent, and

perhaps fears that Merrin's heretical beliefs will cause him even more spiritual

doubt and pain. It transpires that Merrin believed that the power of evil in the

world was so strong that it threatened to overthrow God - a God who seems ever

more silent in the face of his enemies.  [ This is, of course, a rather nice

link to "Exorcist 3", and Kinderman's despair at the apparent impotence  - or

refusal ? - of God to help his creations. ]

Lamont is put on the assignment despite his objections, and he begins his

investigation by going to see Dr Tuskin, hoping to discover more about Regan. Dr

Tuskin believes that the exorcism was a sham, which made things worse by messing

around with Regan's already fragile psyche. She does not believe in the soul -

talking only about mind and body - and refuses the existence of demons, saying

that "We make demons up here", referring to the human mind. Lamont tries to

convince her, however, with an interesting speech that is completely overplayed

by Richard Burton. Burton is sometimes very impressive in the film, but he also

tends to turn his speeches into cheap melodrama. Burton is hammy, where, for

example, George C Scott, was powerfully theatrical.

"You realise what you're up against ... Evil ... a spiritual being, alive and

living, perverted and perverting, weaving its way insidiously into the very

fabric of life."

This sums up the difference between the Friedkin and Boorman approaches. In the

original film, there is GOOD and EVIL, and one has to make a supreme sacrifice

in order to defeat the other. Boorman's film suggests that Evil is a force which

requires good in order to thrive; possibly the two need to co-exist to retain a

spiritual balance. Certainly, as I've stated before, evil in "Heretic"  is

associated with much more than simply make up, swearing and vomiting - it's

linked with images of beauty and energy, it is, in short, _alive_ and seductive

as a separate force in the world.

There follows the first hypnosis scene, one of the major problems with the film

when watching with an audience. It looks and sounds very silly, and it shows how

difficult it is to convey an idea in visual terms. The _idea_ of one mind

melding with another to discover the contents of the sub-conscious is very

interesting, but the actual staging is disastrous. Flashing lights and ominous

tones do not really work for an audience, and the point of the scene is lost.

Boorman seems to realise the problem, and uses some effective facial close-ups

to establish a more convincing mood, but it still doesn't work. Unfortunately

this scene seems to lose the audience, which is a problem since it's important,

as it is where Lamont first confronts the demon. Dr Tuskin has gone "into synch"

with Regan, and is trapped in her subconscious memories of the exorcism, so

Lamont has to go in and save her. Why he should be able to do this is not

explained, but it results in him being "brushed by the wings of the locust", as

he confronts the demon, who is threatening to take Dr Tuskin's heart in the way

it took the heart of Father Merrin. If you think this is confusing, you're

right, and its virtually impossible to write about. But, after a struggle

between the two sides of Regan - her good side, as she is in everyday life, and

her evil side, which is still possessed by the demon - Tuskin's heart is

restored, in rather unfortunately literal terms.  This idea of the heart as the

battleground is repeated later in the film, and is not really very effective.

However, this scene shows Lamont what he is up against, and he says "Evil is

gaining. Father Merrin was killed  ... that wasn't the mind of a child. It was

horrible, utterly horrible ... and fascinating." Evil is, as I said earlier,

seductive, and Lamont comes under its spell in this scene, and succumbs even

further later in the film.

At this point, it's obvious that Boorman is not remotely interested in making a

sequel to "The Exorcist". He's making a film about evil, and, worse for most

horror fans, he wants to make _the_ film about evil. Unfortunately, he already

made a great film about evil in "Deliverance", without any of the thuddingly

obvious spiritual dialogue that fills "The Heretic". On the positive side, and

what makes the film a visual feast, the cinematography is on hand to provide the

conviction that is sometimes lacking in the script and performances.

The hypnosis is followed by an interesting non-sequiteur, where Regan gives Dr

Tuskin a picture of Lamont, in which he is surrounded by flames. Lamont believes

that she is warning him of danger, and he goes down to the basement, where there

is a small fire smouldering away in a box.  Brilliant music and lighting,

turning the portrait into a visual of Burton surrounded by flames - also

reminiscent of the opening immolation of the possessed woman. 

Boorman is constantly on the lookout for an interesting or memorable visual

coups, and he achieves one of the best in the following sequence of Regan in her

bedroom. We hear a voice - that of Pazuzu - inviting her to "go flying". She

walks out onto the roof garden, gown flowing behind her, an image of freedom

from restraint. Meanwhile, this is intercut with strange, brown-tinged images of

Africa; mud huts, unfamiliar faces, all in red light as a swarm of locusts

approaches. Merrin appears in the midst of the swarm, repelled by the

destruction but fascinated by the single-minded aggression and energy of the

swarm. Just as she is about to step off the ledge, Regan comes out of her trance

and falls backwards. This is shot in a dreamy slow-motion, the contrasts between

the airy city and the primitive Africa brilliantly caught by William A Fraker,

whose cinematography is consistently incredible.

Meanwhile, Lamont flies to Washington, to see the house where the exorcism took

place. We see the flight he is on, as the undercarriage of the jet resembles the

mandibles of the locust. Another flying image here, of course. There is a lovely

shot of the Hitchcock Steps in a rain storm, and Lamont meets Sharon, who is

looking after Regan in the absence of her mother [because Ellen Bursteyn didn't

want to be in the film]. Their conversation establishes that the demon was

expecting Merrin, and that it feared him, but this scene in Washington doesn't

really accomplish anything apart from an ambiguous image of a locust hovering by

the bedroom ceiling.

Returning to Regan and Dr Tuskin, Lamont goes into synch with Regan - cue more

ludicrous flashing lights  - and Regan reveals that she can see Father Merrin.

Thus, we get Merrin's story, which is vital to the film. Long ago, in Africa,

Merrin saw a young boy who had unusual powers to tame the locust swarm. However,

it seems that the locusts came because of the boy, and he muses "Does Great

Goodness draw Evil upon itself ?". This is an important concept in the film,

which depends on our acceptance that Regan can be a force for Great Goodness

which is something of a moot point. However, in Merrin's story, the imagery is

extraordinarily sensuous and gorgeous to witness, as we see a primitive

landscape emblazoned with rich, fiery colours. The boy, the healer if you like,

is possessed and speaks, "I Am Pazuzu" - Pazuzu is the king of the evil spirits

of the air, symbolised by the locusts. Regan refers to Pazuzu as being her

"dream name". Incredible shots follow of Merrin and the possessed boy trapped on

a mountainside. As people fall to their deaths, the two begin a battle for

supremacy which will not be resolved until the Georgetown exorcism. Back in

church, with a predominance of red, the exorcism of the boy takes place and

seems to work. But is it a permanent victory, or just a temporary gaining of the

upper hand ? Pazuzu suggests that he can take the boy back any time he likes -

but why then is he so scared of him ?

Then, in the greatest scene in the film, and one of the best scenes of recent

cinema, the demon tempts Lamont by showing him his domain. There is a beautiful

journey through Africa, as Pazuzu says "Come, fly the teeth of the wind, share

my wings", and Lamont succumbs. The soundtrack fills with inexplicable noises,

and the orange/brown visuals suggest a land which is incredibly strange, almost

unknowable. The journey ends in an ancient mud city, where a man steps out and

screams at the demon, becoming a leopard. This is the boy, Kokumo,  who was

possessed and has survived to become a healer - the demon is frightened.

By this point, you're either hooked on Boorman's insanity and want to see more -

as I am - or laughing your head off at the silliness of it all. Personally, I

prefer ambition to mediocrity, but it's a matter of opinion. It's problematic,

however, because the film insists on giving ammunition to its detractors. The

scene which comes next has a vital narrative purpose - to establish Regan as

another great healer who can combat Pazuzu - but the dialogue is so appalling

that it's difficult to stay with the film.  Regan says "I was possessed by a

demon ... but I'm OK now", which is stupid in any context. She heals the deaf

and dumb girl, achieving communication denied to others - but Morricone's

gorgeous music score has to provide the emotional fulfillment that the script

doesn't provide.  Lamont believes that Regan's powers are magical, while Dr

Tuskin believes they have a rational basis - she is hiding behind science,

suggests Lamont, because she can't make the leap to accepting what she can't

comprehend.

Lamont meets Regan at the Natural History Museum, purely for the purpose of

half-explaining selected bits of Theillard De Chardin for the audience - that

the individual consciousnesses in the world will merge together to form a "world

mind" for the betterment of mankind. Lamont suggests that if this happens

prematurely, it could be used for the purposes of evil rather than good. The

words "metaphysical twaddle" spring to mind, but it's an interesting idea which

is returned to in the later conversation with Kokumo about locusts.

Lamont travels to Africa in order to find Kokumo, the boy who survived the

possession of Pazuzu, with the aim of discovering a way to fight the demon. He

climbs the mountain, and , becoming increasingly obsessive, attends a communion,

where he says "Evil overwhelms us". However, ignore the dialogue and get drunk

on the beautiful visuals. Again, a lack of communication causes problems, as

Lamont can't explain what he wants to the tribespeople , who call him a devil

worshipper and stone him. His attack is psychically felt by Regan, who is also

bathed in red light which reminds us of Africa, and she has a seizure in the

middle of a very dull tap routine.

More flying imagery ensues, as Lamont is taken to the mud city by Ned Beatty's

light aircraft. Lamont enthusiastically explains, "I have flown this way before

... on the wings of a demon."As this suggests, he is not able, on his own, to

find Kokumo, and he must call upon the powers of the demon to help him. Good,

again, requires evil. The question arises, does Lamont still have any faith in

the power of God ?

Kokumo [James Earl Jones at his most majestic] is wearing, ironically, a locust

head-dress - is he taunting the demon ? - and warns Lamont that "Pazuzu has

brushed you with his wings."  Lamont must perform a metaphorical "crossing over"

from Pazuzu to Kokumo by walking across a floor of nails - he can't seem to do

it, and falls, but wakes up in a modern, scientific research centre, where

Kokumo appears to be a proper doctor in a white coat. He is a researcher into

locusts, explaining how, when the harmless individual locusts brush their wings

against each other, they turn into a swarm with "one evil mind" -  "When the

wings have brushed you, there is no hope for you." Clearly, this refers to

Lamont as well, and there is a deliberate sense that evil is considerably more

powerful, and threatening, than good.  However, Kokumo reveals that he has been

experimenting with a "good locust" who is resistant to the brushing of the

wings.

We are left with the question of whether good can overcome evil - the

witchdoctor Kokumo advises Lamont that he must engage with the evil Regan and

tear out her heart, in order to destroy the evil once and for all. Returning to

America, Lamont becomes obsessed with the contact with Pazuzu, believing himself

to be the only one who can save Regan's soul. Merrin's story continues, during

an illicit hypnosis session in a hotel room, where he explains that "Many

healers appeared after Kokumo. I tried to protect them. Satan has sent Pazuzu to

destroy their good."Temporarily, Pazuzu succeeds in possessing Lamont's soul,

showing him the power that evil can summon up. There's all manner of portentous

dialogue here, which can be safely ignored.

The finale takes place in the Georgetown house, and isn't really very effective.

Regan is now literally divided between a good and evil self, and there is a

rather good scene as evil, hideously deformed Regan is transformed in a smooth

take into glowing, seductive, beautiful Regan - evil is not only ugly, it is

also beautifully tempting. It would help if Linda Blair was remotely desirable,

but never mind the details.  After an apocalyptic struggle, and Pazuzu's

temptation to kill Good Regan and allow evil to rule the day, Lamont tears out

Bad Regan's heart and is apparently killed as the house collapses. Meanwhile, Dr

Tuskin and Sharon have arrived to rescue Regan from the mad priest, but their

car crashes and Sharon - who has been fascinated by the evil - goes up in flames

- third time for this image. The swarm of locusts descends on the house in some

extraordinary images which look so good that the narrative sense gets a little

lost.

Regan emerges from the wreckage, and sends the swarm away by performing the same

ritualistic dance that we saw the young Kokumo engaged in earlier in the film.

Lamont walks out of the house, alive if a little bruised, absolves Sharon for

her seduction by the evil, and wanders off into the world with Regan, in

preparation for her pre-destined role as a great healer.

This ending sent some preview audiences into fits of laughter - although its

hard to see why, since it is no more stupid than previous scenes in the film -

and was re-edited so that Lamont died in the house. That version doesn't make

narrative sense though, since the whole point is that Regan achieves a victory

over evil, and uses her powers to restore her and her protector. 

So, there it is. Can I convince anyone that it's a great film ? I strongly doubt

it, but it is a very interesting one, as I said. Essentially, it's an arthouse

movie on a vast budget, and it has very little to do with the original film.

Boorman deliberately omitted the masturbating, vomiting excesses of the

original, and later admitted that he should have supplied more in terms of

traditional horror "I created this arena and didn't throw enough Christians into

it.".

However, for anyone who wishes to see an ambitious, often disastrous, but always

original film, with some of the greatest imagery in any English language horror

film, consistently superb cinematography and brilliant music, then "Exorcist 2

The Heretic" is well worth watching. Like me, you may squirm at some of the

awful dialogue, or feel a sudden desire to throw things at the screen when Linda

Blair is tap dancing ... but it is one of the few films which I find constantly

fascinating and I come back to it time and time again with renewed pleasure. As

Pauline Kael said, the film is sometimes astonishingly bad, but often incredibly

good, and as Martin Scorsese noted, the visuals are uniquely gorgeous.

The issue is, probably, can you make a film which survives a bad script and poor

performances, and becomes a genuine success because of the imagery and the ideas

?  Previous Boorman films have not had this problem, since the endlessly

fascinating "Point Blank" is a metaphysical puzzle film disguised as a

straightforward action revenge thriller, and "Deliverance" is an exciting

adventure movie. "Zardoz" tries to pull it off, but the ideas are as silly as

the execution, so it doesn't really get anywhere. But, "Exorcist II" tries

things that other horror movies don't even begin to  attempt, and it's that

intellectual bravado that I respond to. The film is hesitant, complex,

over-reaching and, sadly, finally unsuccessful, because it tries far too much

and never resolves itself. However,  for better or worse, there is not a single

film which is remotely like it - and that is, in the end, some sort of triumph.

--

Mike Sutton

Stealing! How could you? Haven't you learned anything from that guy who gives those sermons at church? Captain whats-his-name.

- Homer

Link to post
Share on other sites
Okay, now, THIS is getting crazy.

- - -

Battle of the Exorcists?

Director Renny Harlin's The Exorcist: The Beginning opened Friday to hellish buzz and several hellish reviews. Could another version of the film, directed by Paul Schrader but shelved in favor of Harlin's take, have fared better? Audiences may yet find out. Morgan Creek, the production company behind The Exorcist: The Beginning, a prequel to the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, may release Schrader's film theatrically, its president hinted this week.

E! Online, August 20

Should we be surprised?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Heh. I think mine's still on my shelf, actually. . . . Yep, there it is. I remember being a big fan of Franky Schaeffer's Addicted to Mediocrity at the time, too, and telling people that Lawhead's book was for the Consumer of art, and Schaeffer's for the Producer of art.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...
  • 2 months later...
First, as some of you may know, The Exorcist was reportedly inspired by a real-life exorcism that took place back in the '40s.  You may be interested to know, then, that an investigative reporter tracked down the person who was possessed a few years ago, and came to the conclusion that what really happened was a whole lot less sensational than the story Blatty tells.

Priest who assisted in famous exorcism dies

The Rev. Walter H. Halloran, a priest who took part in an exorcism that spawned the book and movie "The Exorcist," has died at age 83. He was the last living Jesuit who assisted in the exorcism in 1949 at a psychiatric unit in St. Louis. . . . The Rev. William S. Bowdern was trying to help a 14-year-old boy who he believed was possessed by a demon, and he needed a strong man to help control the boy. A third Jesuit, the Rev. William Van Roo, also was there. "The little boy would go into a seizure and get quite violent," Halloran told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1988. "So Father Bowdern asked me to hold him. Yes, he did break my nose." Halloran said he saw streaks and arrows and words like "hell" on the boy's skin.

Associated Press, March 3

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Yay! I'm really looking forward to seeing Schrader's version of the film. (Whereas I have no interest whatsoever in the Renny Harlin version).

Schrader's films, wether you like them or not, are consistantly interesting, informed by his religious upbringing and I for one think his take on The Exorcist lore would be terribly interesting, if not even insightful

Speaking of Schrader, I'm thinking I should revisit Bringing Out The Dead (which he wrote the screenplay for), as I see someone has put it up for nomination the Top 100. I saw it in theatre, and remember being probably too immature to really appreciate. However I bought it for real cheap a few months back and need to check it out.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Roger Ebert, the "movie answer man," on the Paul Schrader-directed Exorcist film:

"The Schrader version is a very good film, strong and true. It is intelligent about spiritual matters, sensitive to the complexities of its characters, and does something risky and daring in this time of jaded horror movies: It takes evil seriously. It will have a limited theatrical run next month before a DVD release."

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the good news is that Schrader's film is finally going to be released. The bad news is the date of release... May 20th... better known as "The Day After a Certain 800 Pound Gorilla Named Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Hits Theatres." The strategy might work... Prince Harry led his small band against such odds at Agincourt and came away victorious.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...

Sorry, haven't listened to the commentary. FWIW, I don't remember either of the prequels all that well, but off the top of my head, I would say that whereas the original Exorcist was both cerebral and visceral, the Schrader prequel is mostly cerebral and the Harlin prequel is mostly visceral, and basically I don't think any of the sequels or prequels to that film have done it justice. I can respect what Schrader was doing more than any of the other filmmakers, though -- probably including Blatty (who directed The Exorcist III, based on his novel Legion).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

I'm going to guess that that last post of mine was written in response to a query by a certain member of this board who has a nasty habit of deleting his posts.

Link to the later thread on the original Exorcist.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 years later...
I can respect what Schrader was doing more than any of the other filmmakers, though -- probably including Blatty (who directed The Exorcist III, based on his novel Legion).

Yeah, I think so, too. There are fascinating ideas at play here--richer ideas than those found in the original film--even if they're sometimes given clunky expression.

I'm watching Schrader's DOMINION as I write this, and I do think it's unfortunately listless, but part of me thinks a great deal of its ineffectiveness lies in its horrid, slapdash score, which makes it feel a bit like a TV movie (the low-rent special effects don't help, either). With a more impressive, dread-filled score, I could imagine DOMINION being more compelling. As it stands, the cheesy score ruins moments, opting for a cheesy adventure vibe rather than the dark, sinister ambiance appropriate to a slow-boil horror film.

Edited by Ryan H.
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...