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The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

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QUOTE Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson are set to star in THE EXORCISM OF ANNELIESE MICHEL, a drama inspired by true events that will be directed by Scott Derrickson for Screen Gems. Derrickson wrote the script with Paul Boardman. It's about an attorney who defends a Catholic priest who has been charged with the negligent homicide of a 19-year-old girl whose exorcism he presided over. The case reawakens faith in the lawyer. Shooting begins in November in Vancouver.

Anybody know anything about "true events" that inspired this?

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Anybody know anything about "true events" that inspired this?

No, not yet, but I do know that Derrickson is a Christian -- he and I both spoke at Regent College's film conference here in Vancouver last year. I'll have to try to interview him while he's working on this here.

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Exorcism Looms for Scott, Aghdashloo

Campbell Scott, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jennifer Carpenter are joining the cast of an untitled exorcism project based on true events. . . . Scott ("The Secret Lives of Dentists") has been cast as a district attorney, while Aghdashloo ("House of Sand and Fog") is a doctor. Carpenter ("White Chicks") plays the possessed freshman.

Hollywood Reporter, October 24

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Linney in exorcism movie shooting in town

Laura Linney, who's up on the big screen this weekend as Liam Neeson's liberated wife, Clara, in Kinsey (the story of real-life 1940s-'50s sex researcher Alfred Kinsey) is in Vancouver for the next couple of months playing a single, repressed lawyer in Screen Gems' horror thriller, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Formerly known as The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel . . . The story is inspired by a real one -- the Catholic church's official recognition of the demonic possession of an 18-year-old German college freshman (played by Carpenter) who died during an exorcism. A priest (Wilkinson) who presided over the exorcism was charged with negligent homicide in her death.

Lynne McNamara, Vancouver Sun, November 20

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I'm not sure if I should go into

spoilers1.gif

mode, since this info is out there on the web, so I guess I'll just do the blackout thingies...

The trailer is very thought-provoking. It doesn't look like your typical "demon possesion" Hollyweird thing. The real story is very sad, from what I can gather on the web. They worked on this girl for

almost a year

! You'd think that after a few sessions they would figure out that something wasn't working, wouldn't you? Either a) she's not possessed but has other problems, or b ) your nice little rote incantations have no power of themselves and aren't doing diddly.

And why didn't they get her to a hospital when

it was clear that her life was in jeapordy from malnutrition and pneumonia

?! Couldn't they have done exorcism in the hospital? Dr. Walter Martin and a few others once performed one in a Motel room, so I think it would work at a Hospital. Sorry if that sounds a bit sarcastic, but I really don't understand the Catholic Church's thing with formulas and rote prayers. It's like they're performing some kind of ritual magick instead of just claiming the authority given us by Jesus to take care of this kind of thing and do it right! We have the victory! Apparently there are tape recordings of some of the sessions with this girl that have two demons arguing about who has to "leave". Hello? It's not open to discussion, guys, you're both outta here! Jesus sure didn't debate with the "legion" of spirits in the guy in the graveyard, He just booted them out.

I realize that deliverance work is not easy and clear cut, but I think this is where the Catholic Church falls down. I read that in 1999 they revised and updated the whole "Exorcism Rite", supposedly in direct result of this particular failure. Great, a new & improved set of rote incantations.

Neb

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Haven't had time to read the last couple posts/links yet, but I have to say, this film could be especially timely now, given that recent incident in Romania ...

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Wow, I just did a search for that story. Talk about creepy. Ignorance gone wild...

Neb

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Wow, I just did a search for that story. Talk about creepy. Ignorance gone wild...

Neb

Yeah, they should know that you just have to hang a mirror above her and say the incantaions. The demons jump right into the mirror and can't get out. I thought that was standard procedure.

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Blogged it.

Neb wrote:

: They worked on this girl for

almost a year

! You'd think that after a few sessions they

: would figure out that something wasn't working, wouldn't you? Either a) she's not

: possessed but has other problems, or b ) your nice little rote incantations have no

: power of themselves and aren't doing diddly.

I dunno, Jesus said some demons could only be expelled by prayer and fasting, and that suggests something more is needed than a quick wham-bam-thanks-you're-damned kind of approach.

: Sorry if that sounds a bit sarcastic, but I really don't understand the Catholic

: Church's thing with formulas and rote prayers. It's like they're performing some

: kind of ritual magick instead of just claiming the authority given us by Jesus to take

: care of this kind of thing and do it right! We have the victory!

Well, the Orthodox Church has formulas, too, and I assume they would say that, in general, these formulas provide a guideline, based on the experience of those who have gone before us, for those of us who have never had to deal with these things before. And FWIW, as I understand it, every baptism, every house blessing, every consecration of a new church, is in a sense an exorcism of sorts.

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Peter;

I see your points, and it's true about the "little exorcisms", I just see so much reliance in some circles on "you must say these words in this order and sprinkle the holy water just so".

On another note, here's an example (I have not checked its veracity) of an exorcism in the Ukraine that was successful.

Neb

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So two days ago I watched my first-ever Hellraiser movie; specifically, I watched Hellraiser: Inferno (2000), which appears to be the only previous feature film (albeit a straight-to-video film) written and directed by Scott Derrickson.

The Christian theological underpinnings to this film become most explicit in the final ten minutes, but I'm not much of a genre horror buff, per se, so up until the film's climactic reel, I have to confess I wasn't particularly involved in the story -- which concerns a semi-corrupt cop (does drugs, visits hookers, but hey, he isn't all THAT bad, right?) who stumbles across that weird little box that makes the demons come out.

Since I have not seen any of the other Hellraiser movies -- according to the IMDB, there were four theatrical films between 1987 and 1996, and this was the first of at least four straight-to-video releases -- I don't really have a clue as to where this film fits into the franchise thematically, dramatically, aesthetically, or whatever.

For example, the "Pinhead" character featured so prominently on the cover doesn't appear until well over an hour into the movie (although his demonic companions -- "Cenobites", I think? -- do appear considerably earlier than that). A friend tells me that Derrickson's film was the first in the series to relegate Pinhead to more of a background-figure status. Does anybody else here have any insight into that?

Here's one example of where I wonder how this film might fit into the franchise "aesthetically": Every time we see the prostitute, she is wearing SOMEthing, even if it's just her underwear; in a straight-to-video R-rated horror film like this, I might almost have expected her to be naked in at least some of those shots. Am I wrong about that? Is this reticence common to the other films in this series? Or was this decision perhaps influenced by Derrickson's own Christian leanings somehow?

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Where'd you find H:V? I keep looking for it! Love to borrow your copy (along with SON OF MAN), or pay a visit to wherever you rented it from.

Apparenty Derrickson's contribution to the series is little liked by HELLRAISER fans. Bit of a shame, I suppose, since they're probably the only folks who'd bother to see it. Yes, one of their complaints is that Pinhead isn't front and centre.

By the way, your favourite publisher (Relevant Books) has a chapter on Derrickson in their recent book HP: The Hollywood Project, by Alex Field. I can loan you the book if you like.

Some tidbits;

Chapter 7: Scott Derrickson

Hellraiser As Screwtape

...Armed with C.S. Lewis as inspiration, he took the job, seeing it as an opportunity to give the horror genre a needed creative revision, while at the same time injecting the horror film with a redemptive theme....

..."They called and asked if I was interested. So I watched all four of the [movies], and I said Pass...."

A few weeks later, Derrickson got a call from his agent who heard that Dimension Films had gone out to twelve or thirteen other writers and passed on all of their ideas. "They want to know if you have any ideas at all..." "Well, yeah, I've got this one, but it's like a detecitve movie, and I don't think they'll want to do it..." They said, "That's the best HELLRAISER idea ever," at which pointe I drove home and called the Writers Guild to see if I could write under a pseudonym."...

"...they let us write the script the way we wanted it and then Bob Weinstein let me direct the movie... They just left me alone, and I never had an executive on the set. It was a tough movie because of how little money we had. With the exception of the budget, I got to make the movie I wanted to make."

At the end of the day, HELLRAISER: INFERNO is, without a doubt, a horror film you watch entiely at your own risk, but the bottom line is that it goes where HELLRAISER had never gone before - and boldly. To cite a few examples: INFERNO's protagonist walks a meaningful character arc from inciting incident to resolution; the plot, while confusing and purposefully erratic, comes to a reasonbable conclusion in the final scenes; and the use of the infamous HELLRAISER demons is as subtle as the genre will permit. On the technical side, the camera movements and lighting are subtle enough to suggest a director with a taste for more sophisitcated fare... On top of that, the pseudo-redemptive themes that flicker throughout a few scenes in the movie fully realize themselves in the movie's showdown. ...

"The HELLRAISER movie I made is an extremely graphic movie about hell. ... an attempt to sort of recreate a new vision of hell itself. That needed to be a very lurid and graphic place. I think there's a temendous amount of sex and violence and even profanity in the Bible. That in and of itself ought to liberate Christianns from feeling paranoid about its use."...

"I'm very happy about the lack of Pinhead in INFERNO. The series had become a Pinhead show... but if I had to do it over again, I'd put a bit more of him in there for the sake of the fans." ...

"I gravitated, I think initially,k toward the horror genre because, of all the genres, I think it is the genre that is most friendly to the subject matter of faith and belief in religion. The more frightening and sort of dark and oppressive a movie is, the more free you are to explore the supernatural and explore faith. The two just somehow go hand-in-hand really nicely. I became very interested in it for that reason, and THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS was the beacon." ...

The key parallel is found in the idea that a discussion of hell, or from the perspective of hell, implies the existence of heaven and God. Lewis asserts this boldly by leaving God out of the discussion for the most part. ... Derrickson allows pinhead to imply the existence of God by default, in the siimple fact that he is himself, a demon from hell. Several moments push this a step further, shading Derrickson's depiction of hell with hints of an opposite place or idea of God... "You have destroyed your own innocence. You are your own king. This is the hell you have created for yourself." ...

"Who is the king in this game, Joseph? That is the question you must ask yourself."

"I don't understand."

"Ah, the eternal refrain of humanity. Pleading ignorance, begging for mercy. Please, help me, I don't understand. This is the life you chose, Joseph. All the people you hurt, all the appetites you indulge, you have allowed your flesh to consume your spirit." ...

SD" "I am a recovering fundamentalist. I think when people break out of that, they break out of that with a vengeance and, hence, the horror films."

One concept from THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS that becomes a major theme of the book is the comparison between the subtleties of evil and spectacular wickedness, because they draw less attention and, thus, embed themselves into the lives of humans unnoticed. In some ways, HELLRAISER: INFERNO is the characterization of this idea. Over the course of the film, Joseph is slowly wrapped up in a series of increasingly sinful activities that mark his eventual downfall. At first, it's almost unnoticeable because he is so intently focused on solving a particular crime. His intense focus distorts his own reality so much that by the time he realizes what he's been doing to himself, it's too late. This is exactly the tactic Screwtape describes for his nephew in winning over Christian souls. ...

In the final scenes of HELLRAISER: INFERNO, Joseph runs through a hallway opening doors, where he meets the people he sinned against throughout the movie. The scene is visually startling and seems to draw on Dante's visitation of the different levels and kinds of sin. Another parallel that may or may not have been intended can be found in the twenty-first canto of Dante's "The Inferno." In lines forty-five through sixty, Dante describes sinners in the eighth circle sunk in boiling pitch, or tar, being guarded by black winged demons. Whenever one of the sinners tries to come out of the pitch, the demons go after him with grappling hooks, which is an image of torture that is utilized to similar effect in the HELLRAISER movies. ...

"It may be impossible to make a really good movie about God that people can take seriously. But you can really speak to them by making a good movie about the devil, and therefore inherently making a movie about God." ...

...If film is truly the new literature, then HELLRAISER is simply a dime store novel with a subtle theme of redemption. But it's undeniable that the next generation will increasingly use film as their primary form of expression, of literary discourse. It's critical that Christians make themselves part of that conversation. This logic makes a lot of sense, especially when looking at the list of other dark movies that tackle issues of faith, including THE EXORCIST, LOST SOULS, THE PROPHECY, THE OMEN, FRAILTY and THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE. Brian P. Stone, in his book Faith And Film, talks about a similar genre - namely, science fiction - as a powerful force in discussing deeper issues... (quote) ...

In Derrickson's experience, "The more frightening and sort of dark and oppressive a movie is, the more free you are to explore the supernatural and explore faith." His point makes sense, especially after watching films like BLESS THE CHILD, STIGMATA, THE THIRD MIRACLE, and even the laughable END OF DAYS. ...

Edited by Ron

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Ron wrote:

: Where'd you find H:V? I keep looking for it!

You gotta get out of your Videomatica comfort zone, man! wink.gif Seriously, once I determined that the public library did not have a copy (and therefore I would have to pay to rent it from somewhere else), I found it at the first place I tried -- the Rogers Video down the block from where I used to live.

: By the way, your favourite publisher (Relevant Books) has a chapter on Derrickson

: in their recent book HP: The Hollywood Project, by Alex Field. I can loan you the

: book if you like.

Thanks, that might be fun; though the quotes you've provided here are already pretty informative!

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Ron wrote:

: Where'd you find H:V?  I keep looking for it!

You gotta get out of your Videomatica comfort zone, man!  wink.gif

Yeah, have to broaden...

Seriously, once I determined that the public library did not have a copy (and therefore I would have to pay to rent it from somewhere else), I found it at the first place I tried -- the Rogers Video down the block from where I used to live.

Fab. The Rogers stores in Richmond (we've got three within a mile of my house, and two more within three miles!) haven't had it in stock when I've checked. Good to have that lead.

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Ron wrote:

: Fab. The Rogers stores in Richmond (we've got three within a mile of my house, and

: two more within three miles!) haven't had it in stock when I've checked.

Actually, they don't seem to have it in stock AT ALL -- if you change "Vancouver" to "Richmond" on that page I linked to, you'll see that no stores are listed as having this film.

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So, like, due to deadlines and scheduling issues and whatnot, I interviewed Scott Derrickson yesterday, even though I had not seen the film, and even though -- as it turned out -- the studio had not yet given him their list of "talking points". So there were certain questions I couldn't ask, and certain answers he couldn't give!

But it was a fun -- and long! -- conversation that covered a wide range of material, everything from the theological and aesthetic reasons for making horror films in general to the influence of Akira Kurosawa's films on The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

I'm sure it'll be a fun read, but ugh, hoo boy, I've got one monstrous transcription job ahead of me now ...

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I'm sure it'll be a fun read, but ugh, hoo boy, I've got one monstrous transcription job ahead of me now ...

Just transcribe the good parts?

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Yikes! We're having a good ol' fashioned "Are they demons or just mental illness?" fight over at Looking Closer, complete with an anti-Catholic rant. I just happened to glance back at my Exorcism of Emily Rose postand discovered there's been some enthusiastic activity. (There have also been a couple of posts allegedly from a foul-mouthed demon, which I deleted upon discovering them.)

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I see this tomorrow night.

Peter, can you elaborate on the Kurosawa comparison? Is it to a particular film? The director's style?

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I FINALLY got around to transcribing my interview with Derrickson yesterday. It was LONG, and I had had a number of more pressing assignments in the interim, and I actually hate doing transcriptions because it means I can't listen to music while I'm working, etc., etc., etc., but yesterday I finally got the darn thing done. And it's well over 8,000 words, even after I deleted some of the chatty bits that weren't really "interview" bits. Gadzooks, how am I going to boil this thing down to 1,500-1,800 words for CT ... Anyhoo ...

Jeffrey, do you not get comments e-mailed to you automatically when they are posted to your blog?

Christian, the director's favorite film of all time is Ikiru (which ends with people sharing their memories of a man, memories which add up to a cohesive narrative), and he believes Rashomon (in which people's memories of an event conflict with each other, and the past remains unknowable) is Kurosawa's second-best film, and he says The Exorcism of Emily Rose is somewhere between the two films in the way it uses memory to reconstruct an event. I asked if the film would be like a Law & Order episode, in which the first half is the exorcism and the second half is the court case, and he said it was a courtroom drama all the way through and an exorcism movie all the way through, so it sounds like he tells the story of the exorcism in flashback.

FWIW, the first Vancouver screening isn't until Monday.

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I'm seeing it Thursday (tomorrow) night.

I ended up paying to have someone else transcribe my Derrickson interview. And I won't do that again. Ouch. It took them 5 1/2 hours to type it out.

Jeffrey, do you not get comments e-mailed to you automatically when they are posted to your blog?

I had avoided that... didn't want the interruptions... but after I meandered back through some old posts yesterday learned the kind of obscenities being added to old comment threads, I've changed my mind. I activated the email update this morning.

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: I ended up paying to have someone else transcribe my Derrickson interview. And I

: won't do that again. Ouch. It took them 5 1/2 hours to type it out.

Wow. How many words? I think it took me about 3, 3.5, maybe 4 hours, but then, I'm a fast typist, and I knew which parts of the interview were more "chatty" and therefore skip-able.

You know how they say you can make big jobs bearable by breaking them up into smaller jobs? I decided to do the transcription on my couch, with my laptop, unplugged. So I knew there was a finite amount of time that I could do any transcribing, and I just kept doing it until my laptop's battery was too low. Then I looked at the tape and realized, "Hmmm, I'm a little farther along than I thought I would be. That's nice." Then I plugged the laptop in and left the apartment to run some errands. Then I came back, and, seeing that the laptop was fully charged again, unplugged it and sat down on the couch again. And then I kept transcribing until the battery ran out again. I finished the transcription on the third pass, and then I went through it and cleaned it up with the spellings and the paragraph breaks and all that stuff.

And now I just have to hack and slash it down to my word count! But hey, it's all worth it, cuz I'll be posting the full thing on my blog after CT posts the shorter version.

: I had avoided that... didn't want the interruptions... but after I meandered back

: through some old posts yesterday learned the kind of obscenities being added to old

: comment threads, I've changed my mind. I activated the email update this morning.

Yeah, and now that blogs are being spammed too (is the word for this "splogging"?), it helps to know when there are new comments that need to be deleted. Or exorcised, as it were. smile.gif

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I also tomorrow night. There was an earlier screening last week, but it was in the midle of the day and I couldn't make it.

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