(In case of rain, the screening will be moved to Cinema Jolly and replace the actual screening)
It’s almost embarrassing to be, once again, discussing a film such as The Exorcist, on which dozens of essays, books, analyses and interpretations have already been published, which doubled in number following the release of the ‘definitive cut’ of the film in 2000, as desired by producer and writer William Peter Blatty. […] The entire film is loaded with symmetries and echoes, connections, reverberations and omens. Friedkin’s idea was to restore the power of the novel through a narrative ‘double register’: first of all, to prepare the ground by paying attention to the social construction of the setting (upper-middle class), and then to drop an absolutely anomalous fact into that credible situation. It works, because it suggests the similarity between possession and disease – basically, for the entire duration of events Regan stays in bed in her room, as though she has been stuck down by influenza – and threatens us with the real and daily presence of the Devil. Just the idea of treating demonic possession as something that at first assumes the form of a clinical disorder represents, on a symbolic level, the reason why The Exorcist is so very able to strike at the darkest imaginations of spectators. […]
That the film contains a metaphorical heart of darkness is indubitable. It is, however, far more difficult to define how one should decipher the various layers of hidden contents. The Exorcist speaks to us of youthful rebellion (the ‘obsessed’ version of generational rebellion), of the failure of every libertarian standpoint (as this writer believes), of the collapse of modern society into obscurantism and irrationality (in the form of a warning), of an America in disarray that must fight an enemy at all costs, only to realise it is on the inside (a prefiguration of domestic terrorism, such as the Oklahoma City bombing), or of the dramatic absence of fathers in a nation of busy neo-capitalists? We cannot say whether The Exorcist is a film on Watergate, on the wounds of Vietnam, or on something else entirely: without doubt, it is a film about community in the United States, about the totemic expulsions that traditionally take place within it of what is is considered negative, and about its fearful negation of sexuality. The discussion could be summarised in two points: one that considers Friedkin’s work a film that in addition to denouncing a social crisis, suggests a violent and warlike removal of it, and another that considers the film to be a sinister sign of epochal distress.
Roy Menarini, William Friedkin, Il Castoro, Milano 2002
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di William Peter Blatty. Scen.: William Peter Blatty. F.: Owen Roizman. M.: Norman Gay, Evan Lottman. Scgf.: Bill Malley, John Robert Lloyd. Mus.: Krzysztof Penderecki, Jack Nitzsche. Int.: Ellen Burstyn (Chris MacNeil), Max von Sydow (padre Merrin), Lee J. Cobb (tenente William F. Kinderman), Linda Blair (Regan), Kitty Winn (Sharon), Jack MacGowran (Burke Dennings), Jason Miller (padre Damien Karras), reverendo William O’Malley S.J. (padre Dyer), Barton Heyman (dottor Klein), Pete Masterson (direttore della clinica). Prod.: William Peter Blatty per Hoya Productions, Inc.. DCP. D.: 132’. Col.
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