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'The Exorcist' turns 40!

By Robert Kirchgassner ,
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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the classic horror film The Exorcist.

Based on the 1971 book of the same name by William Peter Blatty (which itself was reportedly based on a real-life incident that occurred in Maryland in 1949), the movie was directed by William Friedkin, who won an Oscar for directing his previous film The French Connection (1971).

Chris McNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is an actress living in Washington D.C., where she is juggling her career and her life as a single parent to her daughter Regan (Linda Blair). But Regan soon starts exhibiting abnormal behavior, including using foul language and increased strength she uses against others. Other events such as her bed shaking uncontrollably eventually lead to Chris, an atheist, enlisting depressed priest Damien Karras (Jason Miller) to perform an exorcism on Regan as a last resort.

Karras agrees and enlists Fr. Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow) to aid in the ritual. Merrin soon realizes that Regan is possessed by a demon he had dealt with years earlier.

The film has many moments which instantly became notorious (I can’t say that I swore off pea soup, but understand why many people did after watching this film).

But its great performances and intense imagery helped make the movie a classic. The film’s use of Mike Oldfield’s work Tubular Bells on its soundtrack was also a plus.

The movie went on to win Academy Awards for Best Sound and Screenplay (written by Blatty). The movie was nominated for Best Picture and Friedkin, Burstyn, Miller and Blair were also Oscar-nominated.

 

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