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The Exorcist 1973 :: William Friedkin, William Peter Blatty

 
 
dlowan
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 01:41 am
P Diddie - as I think I said at the beginning of the thread - this "demon" thing has been so much part of the inner furnishing of human minds for so long that it is unsurprising that a film so full of menace as most people find "The Exorcist" to be, having been skilfully made, awakens these lurking fears no matter how much we consider ourselves past all that!

I think a score of imitations and spoofs rob it of its power today - although I imagine it is scary to those who DO believe in demonic possession!

Larry - could you enlarge upon your assessment of the film as well done crap?

Do you consider all horror thus, or just this film and "The Silence of the Lambs"?
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 06:18 am
I had never been exposed to the dogma of demonism and possession, so I perceived the film as one hell (to coin a phrase Very Happy ) of a horror movie.

Emotionally, it was very powerful, but not because of any religious intent. I became ill at the scene near the beginning, where the doctor gives the girl an injection in her neck.

Later on, I learned that the symptoms that the girl exhibited in the movie were manifestations of Tourette's Syndrome. This reinforced for me the notion that the pious tend to find religious meaning in phenomena that they do not understand.
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dlowan
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 06:41 am
Er - that was no Tourette's, Phoenix!!!!!

Believe me, Tourette's is a far tamer thing than the film portrayed!
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 06:56 am
Dlowan- Of course I knew that what was shown in the Exorcist was not Tourettes exactly. That was the theatrical version of Tourettes, taken ad absurdem!
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dlowan
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 07:03 am
Hmmmmmmm - that devil got some line in grren paint and head turning!
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 07:58 am
During the Salem witch trials, mentally ill women were burned at the stake as witches, posessed by the "devil". To me, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that pious, unsophisticated people, might consider the symptoms of Tourette's as a sign of possession!
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 10:33 am
So now some of us believe those manifistations actually took place in "The Exorcist?" It's a work of fiction. I agree with Phoenix that the book and film are exaggerations of Tourettes and other psychotic mental aberrations. It is well documented in history that the target of exorcisms was mental illness, now being treated properly as science and medicine has come to understand them.
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dlowan
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 03:21 pm
However, I do not think they are regarded as such in the narrative of the film.

In the narrative of history, many now regard "possession" as explained by such things. Many do not. I have had perfectly normal appearing people earnestly tell me that simple meditation is a dangerous thing to do, since it allows the devil to enter the mind!

I wonder what the balance in the world is between people who believe in possession by demons and those who do not - and those who sort of do when alone in a dark house watching a scary movie?

Irrelevant to the film, of course - but interesting.

Pity Lash isn't around to start the thread Craven asked her to.
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Sun 16 Feb, 2003 07:29 pm
I agree -- Blatty requires that one is open to be enticed and fooled by his tricks. Whether he personally believes in supernatural possession would be irrelevant. It's a spook show and as slickly put together as Hollywood can do it. I find films like "Diabolique" or "Jaws" to be more chilling but I'm not saying that an initial viewing of "The Exorcist" isn't powerful. It's just that it quickly wears off and repeated viewings are for curiousity more than anything else. "Silence of the Lambs" wears better because of the performances and some good, suspenseful storytelling. They are both pop entertainment.
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larry richette
 
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Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2003 10:16 pm
The reason I called THE EXORCIST crap is that it is basically a shallow, manipulative piece of work--very well executed, but still junky. I like other horror films better because the manipulation is less heavy-handed. I put THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in the same category because it, too, is well-executed but the basic concept is garish and tawdry. Even Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins can't make me overlook the gratuitous bloodiness of SILENCE.
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dlowan
 
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Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2003 02:08 am
Hmmm - I have a very ambivalent attitude towards all "horror" works - tending to suspect that they deal in the basest of human emotions. However, I am also aware of a need for stimulation that is, perhaps, not met in more "safe" societies - whereas it may be in societies closer to the realities of nature and human conflict.

Larry, you interest me with the implied contrast between "gratuitous" and "non-gratuitous" bloodiness. Can you give some examples of the latter to help me understand the distinction you draw? This is a murky area for me...
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larry richette
 
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Reply Wed 19 Feb, 2003 09:45 pm
An example of gratuitous bloodiness:

In PULP FICTION, after Bruce Willis shoots John Travolta with his own gun, the director has Willis open the door to the bathroom where Travolta lies dead just so he can linger on the bloody corpse. We already know he's dead; Tarantino now wants to give us a cheap thrill.
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larry richette
 
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Reply Wed 19 Feb, 2003 09:47 pm
Non-gratuitous bloodiness:

The climax of THE WILD BUNCH. We need to see the Bunch being massacred by the Mexicans, because this moment is the culmination of the themes as well as the plot of the movie. The violence is justified by the story and by the dynamics of the movie.
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 01:43 pm
I didn't find the scene of Willis or any of the violence as gratuitous in "Pulp Fiction." I interpreted that scene entirely as irony -- the banality of violence. Willis' expression reveals to me that he I wasn't sure he knew the person he had just killed (or was he?) and had opened the door to gloat because he had trumped the hit man (the humorous plot twist that dummy Travolta had left his firearm outside while he went to the bathroom). As I remember, he blew on the end of the barrel of the gun like an old Western gunslinger.
I'm not trying to infer my taste or interpretation on the unwilling but I am also unwilling to change my opinion that of all the films of that year, "Pulp Fiction" deserved the prize at Cannes.

We're kinda digressing (sorry Crave) and back to "The Exorcist," I can't help feeling that it's a couriosity more than a great accomplishment and it's religious stance is ambiguous and done strickly for dramatics. It didn't spawn very good sequels (which I think is a good measure of the quality of a film like "Godfather" and "Godfather II" or "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back") Blatty let all the tricks out of the bag and doing it again just showed up the flaws in its premise (if one can really pinpoint a true premise). I still will always have trouble finding the throwing up of green muck in people's faces as scary more than it is sickening. It's as if Blatty were playing the organ and decided to make something work, he just needs to pull all the stops out. That's not to say I don't admire the film for what it is -- a slick bit of horror storytelling with not much of a message (if there was ever one intended). Mercedes McCambrige's vocalizations of the evil source are impressive.
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larry richette
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 02:22 pm
Lightwizard, I found not only that scene but much of the violence in PULP FICTION gratuitous, including the rape scene. Tarantino is just throwing in whatever shock value he can to titillate the audience. He is not an artist in the way that Kurosawa, Peckinpah, or Kubrick were--to name three directors who used violence far more meaningfully than Tarantino ever dreamed of doing.
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 02:32 pm
I've long considered Pulp Fiction to be a shock jock film and have discussed this with LW before. I think he has valid points about Pulp Fiction, it has it's merits despite Tarantino's penchant for shock value.

"Taste is like an ass, everyone has their own"
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 05:46 pm
The rape scene is crucial to the plot and no more graphic than the rape scene in "Deliverance," also a crucial scene for the plot. Willis saves Rhames and Rhames returns to debt by telling him to get lost when he wanted to kill him for fouling up throwing the fight. There's a satirical bent to "Pulp Fiction" I guess is not appreciated by some. It remains to be seen what he will come up with in the future so it's too soon to compare him with a Kurosawa, Kubrick or Peckinpah. Kubrick's "The Killing" has some of the elements that show up in "Pulp Fiction." I don't watch the film to satisfy some sadistic need to see violence. The fact that it is dealt with in a banal and often comical way makes violence even more repellant. I don't see that this is productive to hash over feelings over this film.

On "The Exorcist," I have a tendency to lean more toward it's place in film history as being rather dubious -- it's popularity is also a curiousity to me since those earnestly religious personages should see it's not exactly kind when addressing the perceptions of God.
It's almost as if David Copperfield were an exorcist.

"Silence of the Lambs" is far more satisfying as a mystery -- there is a suspense and tension in the film that is expertly handled even though I'm not that hot on the books. I've had many of my friends tell me the movie is better than the book.
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 05:51 pm
Crave -- you might approach it as a parody of shock jock films mixed in with a gritty L.A. expose crime flick. It's almost a parody of itself. It's actually difficult to pidgeonhole and therefore the controversy ensues.
(Okay, that's it, I am actually finished Laughing )
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larry richette
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 11:24 am
Lightwizard--if you will take the trouble to compare DELIVERANCE and PULP FICTION, you will see that PULP's rape scene is far more explicit than the one in DELIVERANCE, which works by suggestion.

Trying to compare PULP FICTION to THE KILLING is also absurd. What do they have in common except, very loosely, being crime movies? There are no plot or character elements in common.

If you like PULP FICTION you are stuck with the fact that it is a sadistic, pornographic film with no meaning masquerading as a work of depth. Dragging in other movies to prop it up just doesn't cut it.
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 12:31 pm
You must have seen the version of "Deliverance" that is not R rated (the truncated TV version). The rape scene is quite explicit and I remember when I went to the studio preview that the film people who attended thought it was way too explicit. It was not cut out of the film. I don't find one any less explicit than the other.
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