Modern Horror Cinema Wouldn’t Exist Without The Exorcist Or William Friedkin – /Film

The other factor that made “The Exorcist” stand out was its timing. The film came at the beginning of the 1970s when the Vietnam War was still raging and protests were common. Hollywood was collapsing under the weight of increasingly expensive and idiotic blockbusters (sound familiar?) and darker, franker, more intense cinema was coming into vogue. The Watergate scandal was in full swing, and many were losing faith in previously stolid institutions. It was a time of doubt and political turmoil.

“The Exorcist” may have been bleak in its belief in Actual Evil, but it also sneakily upheld a lot of traditional viewpoints. Religion, it argued, had a lot to offer an ailing public, specifically the mannered and ostentatious rituals of Roman Catholicism. The character of Chris is an actress, and she is acting in a film that features a protest scene. Chris’ character takes a megaphone and argues that protest is not helpful. Institutional changes have to come from within. Some have even noted that “The Exorcist” upholds old-fashioned gender roles, depicting as it does brave chaste men rescuing the “honor” of a young woman from a masculine presence. Chris is a rich, interesting character and Ellen Burstyn is excellent, but she’s not the one performing the exorcism. 

But then, “The Exorcist” also argues that evil can infiltrate anywhere. The Traditional System may have won this time, but evil will persist. No matter what you believed in the tumult of 1973, “The Exorcist” reinforced it. 

“The Exorcist,” through its many releases, has made $428 million worldwide. It hit a nerve that we’ve been poking at ever since. “The Exorcist: Believer” is due in theaters on October 23, 2023.

Friedkin let us know, in no uncertain terms, that the Devil will always be lurking.

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