Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Exorcist


directed by: William Friedkin
starring: Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow

Released in 1973.

One of the iconic horror movies of the second age of the genre, when the focus shifted from monsters to the human relationship with these monsters, The Exorcist led to a whole cottage industry of movies about satanic possession.  It shocked audiences by using a little girl as the victim and the extreme depiction of the results.

Actually, the little girl, portrayed by Linda Blair, remains what most people know about it.  For me, it's about the visuals, and the visual I care best about is Max von Sydow, a leader of the sober authoritarian school of acting, blessed with one of the most distinctive voices in film.  There's a famous shot of his approach to the girl's home that is equaled for me only by Road to Perdition, a film ruled as much by great acting as great cinematography.

Otherwise I don't really care too much for The Exorcist.  Clearly it was really all about sensationalism, hinged around the things the little girl does.  Sure, on one level it's about the extreme amount of disrespect possible from true evil, but it ends up being depicted by everything you never thought movies would do with little girls.

Thankfully we later got young actors with actual dignity in horrors films with The Sixth Sense, basically the complete opposite of The Exorcist, something more akin to Max von Sydow.

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