The Exorcist (The Version You've Never Seen)
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The account of a young girl who is possessed, and the Exorcist who tries to save her.
Release Date: 3-FEB-2004
Media Type: DVD
Director William Friedkin was a hot ticket in Hollywood after the success of The French Connection, and he turned heads (in more ways than one) when he decided to make The Exorcist as his follow-up film. Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his controversial bestseller, this shocking 1973 thriller set an intense and often-copied milestone for screen terror with its unflinching depiction of a young girl (Linda Blair) who is possessed by an evil spirit. Jason Miller and Max von Sydow are perfectly cast as the priests who risk their sanity and their lives to administer the rites of demonic exorcism, and Ellen Burstyn plays Blair's mother, who can only stand by in horror as her daughter's body is wracked by satanic disfiguration. One of the most frightening films ever made with a soundtrack that's guaranteed to curl your blood, The Exorcist was mysteriously plagued by troubles during production, and the years have not diminished its capacity to disturb even the most stoical viewers. Don't say you weren't warned! --Jeff ShannonSee all Editorial Reviews
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You get what you pay for. At this writing Amazon offers this edition at about eight bucks: very economical. What did I get at this price? The movie itself in good quality video, modest but effective stereo. (The Blu-Ray version, I imagine, would present a much denser and crisper image; I doubt, however, that the colors would be more striking, since Friedkin, his cinematographer and production designer, decided on a more muted palette to start with. "The Director's Cut" refers to an additional 10-15 minutes that Friedkin edited out of the movie's first release (probably to keep the running time closer to the two-hour mark, thus helping Warner Bros. sell more tickets every day). What of the extra features? In THIS edition—not others—most of what you get is a series of re-relase trailers, TV, and radio promos. How much you adore these will depend on how much you love hearing, over and again, that this is "the scariest movie ever made." (I disagree, but your mileage may vary.) The principal special feature, which I was most looking forward to, was the director's commentary, voiced over the movie. This, to put it mildly, is a disappointment. Having seen and heard other interviews with Friedkin, I know that he can be articulate and perceptive. Here, for some reason, he simply narrates the story we are seeing onscreen. There are practically no insights into the film's production, precious little on its background, and few comments on the acting, (I do agree with him that the quiet, subtle "interrogation" of Ellen Burstyn's character by Lee Cobb's is a highlight of the film.) It would be unfair to accuse Friedkin of phoning in this commentary. He sounds, not bored, but merely redundant.
So … if all you want is the basic, slightly extended version, with a bland frill at a low price, this should do the job. Be prepared for little more.
The key element of this hallmark is that 'The Exorcist' is so convincingly real. Reinventing horror, it relies on revealing the nature of a possessed demon inside of its innocent young host, Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair). The way the drama unfolds is not unlike an investigation, complete with medical exams, psychiatry, and a police detective. All of the inquiry gives the whole horror a plausible presentation. For who would not be struck by the contrast between the skepticism of the modern world--including from Catholic priest, Damien Karras (Jason Miller)--in all its attempts to explain an irrational phenomena? The demonic revelation sneaks up on its main players as well as the audience with a tension that only increases over time. Needless to say, it doesn't rely a whole lot on the element of surprise with terrible malevolent beings jumping out at once. As expertly as the sound and special effects are rendered, there is little for the audience to guess at what times terrible things will happen. The presence of the demon inside of Regan makes its menace present to the audience as well. We can feel the full force of the ordeal.
'The Exorcist' takes place mainly on the Georgetown campus where Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is lead actress for a film she describes as "Walt Disney meets Ho Chi Min". She has three helpers, including two German immigrants, and her director, Burke Dennings, provides an important part of the plot's direction. Her loose connections with the priests at Georgetown provide some needed solidarity. It is mostly Chris's story, and her struggle to find some solution to her daughter's developing problem, but it is also the story of two priests (including, the exorcist, Fr. Merrin [Max Von Sydow]) whose determination and struggles give more meaning to the main plot and how it remarkably develops.
'The Exorcist' was directed skillfully by William Friedkin who has a host of classics under his directing belt, including 'The French Connection'. Based on William Peter Blatty's modern bestseller and a screenplay adapted by him, 'The Exorcist' is still a masterpiece of modern horror meant to make one look for a reality beyond the senses.
(The "version you've never seen before" doesn't do much to help or harm. A couple of added scenes provide some poignancy; some of it is extraneous, but none of it really ruins the effect.)
However, my younger friend who watched it with me found it too slow for about two thirds of the movie. For that reason I am giving it four instead of five stars. Perhaps I am biased because I have loved this movie ever since I first saw it. Perhaps he is too immature to appreciate it. I can't be sure.