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Christian

The Friedkin Connection

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William Friedkin is not among my favorite directors, but anyone with a career lasting as long as his probably has some stories to share. I had my eye of Friedkin's new memoir, The Friedkin Connection, but thought I'd get to it "someday," no rush.

 

A few things conspired to get me reading the book. First, I'd needed to watch a Blu-ray of The French Connection (gift from a friend) for about a year. After I picked up Friedkin's Killer Joe on a whim last week and watched it, I thought the time was right to finally dive into The French Connection. I was also hearing good things about the restored print of my favorite (these days) of Friedkin's films, Sorcerer.

 

I had seen Friedkin's book at the library and had wondered why it wasn't checked out. It's new; isn't anyone interested? Maybe not. Friedkin keeps working, but he doesn't factor into too many conversations about favorite directors -- at least not among the cinephiles I know.

 

Still, I was wrapping up a novel and wanted another book. Both library systems near me had available copies of Friedkin's book, so I put the book on hold and picked it up Saturday. Then it hit me: Maybe the ebook edition would be available via the library. Ebooks are very popular in general at the library, so I wasn't holding my breath. But there it was, available for checkout. That means I could read it in bed, on my GlowLight. 

 

That's what I did. I started it last night, and the Prologue is excellent. I encourage anyone who thinks they might be interested in the book to grab a copy and read that prologue. It's compelling -- refreshingly honest and humble, highlighting the director's failings (not specific films, but in a "I've had some hits and misses" overall evaluation of his film output, as well as some boneheaded decisions in terms of projects he decided not to pursue).

 

The first chapter, covering Friedkin's early life and entry into motion pictures, runs to about 50 pages, but I got through it without falling asleep -- no small feat these days! I'm looking forward to chapter 2 tonight -- in about 10 minutes.

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The Religion News Service picked up this article, which appeared in this morning's Washington Post (emphasis added simply to highlight the connection to the book):

 

'Exorcist' creators haunt Georgetown 40 years later

 

The Exorcist ... has terrified and disturbed audiences for 40 years with the story of the possession of young Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) and the exorcism by priests Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Father Karras (Jason Miller). (An anniversary Blu-ray is out Tuesday with new bonus features and an excerpt from Friedkin's book The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir.) ...

 

Over the years The Exorcist movie has grown in popularity, but Blatty missed the spiritual aspects from his original work, so Friedkin added 12 minutes for an extended director's cut that was released into theaters in 2000.

 

"I felt that Bill created this, and the film had played by that time for about 27 years with those cuts that worked marvelously well," Friedkin says. "I thought, 'Why shouldn't Bill have the version he wants at that point?' "

 

The most infamous moments of The Exorcist — the head-spinning, the vomiting, the abhorrent sexual use of a crucifix — are what many movie fans remember. But it's about something much deeper, says the director.

 

"It was not a promotion for the Catholic Church but definitely a story about the power of Christ and the mystery of faith that continues to this day," Friedkin says. "I'm flattered when people admire it, but when they call it a horror that's not how I feel about it."

 

Blatty replies softly and simply: "Amen."

 

--The book goes into much more detail about the Blatty/Friedkin spat over the film, some of which I knew previously but didn't remember all that well.

Edited by Christian

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Edited by NBooth

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