The Exorcist Movie Analysis Essay

”The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!!! …” Father Merrin&Father Damien Karras from the movie -The Exorcist- This quote had been said like 10 times in quick succession in the movie ”The Exorcist” and may have the right to be the most influental and memorable quote of the movie. Of course in order to underline the variety of ”exorcism”, the director of the film William Friedkin had to feature this quote out, which is actually a quote from Bible.

But not only this one but also the other quotes -especially the obscene ones- have right to be the most memorable quotes from the best horror movie in 70s, ”The Exorcist”. But why do people think it’s the best horror movie in that time and maybe in todays cinema? What makes it so popular? The scary scenes? The talent of the actors? The special effects (which some of them can be considered ”funny” in nowadays horror movie technology) ? Or is it just the idea of exorcism,demons, etc.


Plot: ”A movie actress taking up temporary residence in Washington D.C. has her troubles. The script for the movie she’s filming seems inadequate. Her ex, who is also the father of her adolescent daughter, Regan, neglects to call the girl on her birthday. And the attic has rats. Meanwhile, Father Karras, a priest and a psychiatrist, is losing his faith; and he’s dealing with a sick mother who needs medical care he hasn’t the money to provide. Another priest, the old and ailing Father Merrin, has just returned from Iraq with forebodings of evil. These three persons meet when the sweet and cheerful Regan turns foul-mouthed and violent. But her sickness is beyond the reach of a medical doctor or a psychiatrist.

What Regan needs is an exorcist.” Written by J. Spurlin from IMDB Obviously Exorcist is not a film just based on religion or nonhuman creatures. It refers also to lots of physchological and conservative problems if we look deeper to the plot. Starting from a single,famous mother who is trying to be a father figure for her teenage daughter.. Daughter’s strange behaviours which can not be solved by psyhciatrists.. Moreover that psyhciatrists, that scientific people- offering to look for another solutions, trying to underline the presence of religion(?). And finally desperate, helplessness, agnostic or maybe atheist mother deciding to apply for exorcism as a final cure.. ”I like pizzas too, but I’m not gonna marry one..”

One of the most common seen problems in modern society, must be the idea of ”independence”. This idea mostly seen in families. Many people get married happily but also divorce after a while very quickly. They say they can’t stand each other or they can’t find enough time to be together, they want to be free, they don’t want to care or try to explain something to their partners, they want to be independent, whatever. Divorces are made, the context of ”family” gets lost. Of course children of that families grow up with lots of pshychological problems. We can see that problem in Exorcist, too. Chris MacNeil is a single mother, trying to raise her teenage daughter Regan on her own.

But raising up a adolescent girl without a father is not that easy. Psychologists say, children who have no father figueres around, are growing up either too spoiled or too withdrawned. Regan can be considered as the spoiled one, because her mother tries to do everything for her, she tries to be a friend for her more than a mother. However Chris notices that sometimes she really need a father for her daughter. In some scenes we see that she tries to call Regan’s father, but get no answer. And also we see that she has some relationships with other men. Maybe she is trying to find a new husband for her or maybe a new father for Regan. Regan MacNeil: But ya like him. (talking about her mother’s close relationship with a man) Chris MacNeil: Of course I like him. I like pizzas too, but I’m not gonna marry one.

Why Regan as a victim?

Having no father in a family, sometimes refers to having no authority in it, also. In MacNeil’s it can be seen very clear. Regan has no father figure around her, mother behaves her like a friend. A spoiled girl, without no authority at home, moreover experiencing an adolescence period, where she is available to change any time, must be the best candidate for a demon or evil, whatever. There is a belief that demons love lonely and desperate people and they get in their lifes while they are unhappy or not enough happy. Also there is another believe that this evil things happens mostly to the people without no faith or religion.

Regan MacNeil: Mother? What’s wrong with me?

Chris MacNeil: It’s just like the doctor said. It’s nerves, and that’s all. You just take your pills and you’ll be fine, really. Okay? Regan’s mother was obviously an agnostic or maybe an atheist. When she noticed that Regan has some problems, she immediately took her daughter to a physchologist. These physchologists offered to get Regan checked by psychiatrists also because they thought her problems are more serious. And finally when pshyciatrists told Chris that they can’t help her, they adviced to see a priest, which was a nonsense advice for an agnostic mother who doesn’t believe in that kind of religious things. Could a priest save her daughter’s life, could he change something?

Desperate mother had to try this final solution whether she believes in God or not. And it worked actually. The demon inside Regan was pulled out by the help of exorcism, by the help of priests, by the help of God. So.. Was it a punishment to Chris -the agnostic/atheist mother- directly done by God? Did he send a demon to her daughter’s soul, just to make her a religious person? But why using a harmless girl as a sin? And is a demon capable to kill a soul? Even if its capable, even if its capable to do everything, why it can’t untie the ropes which Regan was fastened by? I mean come on, even The Exorcist is based on a true story, we could never ever find realistic answers for those questions..

Science VS. Religion

Regan’s behaviours seemed like normal teenage problems at first, but the violence growing up inside her is actually abnormal and unfortunately her doctors can’t understand what’s going on in real. Real? What is real? Doctors come to a conclusion that she has some very heavy psychological problems which they can’t cure. Can’t cure? If science can’t cure, what will then? Even if doctors, even if science can’t manage to do something, there must be some other powers in real, right? Dr. Barringer, Clinic Director: A belief in the power of exorcism can make it disappear. Chris MacNeil: You’re telling me that I should take my daughter to a witch doctor? Is that it?

The Scary Scenes & Special Effects

Exorcist was just a novel written by William Peter Blatty before William Fredkin directed and made it one of the horror movie classics in the cinema industry. Many readers of the book were already scared and impressed by the story they read. Watching this story also on the white-screen, many people couldn’t sleep for weeks, many of them couldn’t even watch it till the end and left the movie theatre. If we look at today’s comments about Exorcist, many people say that they still can not forget some scenes. The top five scary scenes from this movie according to public comments are; 1)Regan’s spider-walk downstairs with pouring blood out of her mouth, 2)Regan’s 360 degree head spin, 3)Regan’s masturbating with the cruficix, 4)Regan’s swelling throat, and finally 5)Abnormally shaking bed and jumping Regan on it. Nobody can deny that these scenes are silly and not close to reality, may be in today’s horror movie industry they are, but in 70s they were just frightening audience to death.

Demon: I’m not Regan.

Father Damien Karras: Well, then let’s introduce ourselves. I’m Damien Karras. Demon: And I’m the Devil. Now kindly undo these straps. Father Damien Karras: If you’re the Devil, why not make the straps disappear? Demon: That’s much too vulgar a display of power, Karras. Not only the scenes, but also the speculations about the film scared people and made them believe in the existence of devil. During the production of the film the set was burned many times, some of the actors passed away, some of them got injured. Linda Blair who played Regan, really believed that her soul was captured by a demon and she got some treatments at hospitals for so many years. Some of the speculations were real and some of them were basicly just advertisements created to make people see that film.

Remaining Question Marks for the Film

Whether its an old film(1973), Exorcist still has many questions waiting to be answered. I’m sure the writer of the book wouldn’t expecting so much questions to be asked. I’m also sure he didn’t know that so much analysis or review could be done while examining the plot. Couldn’t he create a single man suffering the evil things instead of an adolescent girl? Of course he could, but he just wanted it to be like this, maybe? I’m sure many writers don’t think much deeply while writing their novels, especially when we are talking about thrillers. Because we all know that half of them are made from sillyness, from nonsense, from unreal but interesting things which offer a different world to discover for the readers. Question marks will remain forever. Especially the weirdiest question mark turns up in the begining and at the end of the movie: the ezan noises. What kind of message is the film
trying to send? Is ”the evil” or ”the demon” idea, something that Muslims are believed in or found out?

The other question, is the demon inside Regan really left her soul or not? Well actually this question can be answered by watching the second and the third film of Exorcist; The Heretic and The Legion. But for those who haven’t watched them yet, focus on the final scene of Exorcist; Regan wears some clothes which are a combine of black and red colors – the colors of devil(?). And remember; demon can cheat on you very easily, it can act like an angel like a cute girl then turns out as devil again, you can’t trust in it.

So did Regan really survive from the demon at the end of the movie or she/the demon was acting again? Father Merrin: He is a liar. The demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien, and powerful. So don’t listen to him. Remember that – do not listen. Only the truth of being ”one of the best horror picture movie”, The Exorcist will always be in the top list of classic horror films in cinema industry, that is for sure.. A Review for ”The Exorcist” by Esra ELMALI, Bahçeşehir University October 15th, 2012

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