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Movies The Exorcist Or The Devil And Special Effects

Movies The Exorcist Or The Devil And Special Effects image
Parent Issue
Day
22
Month
February
Year
1974
OCR Text

Everyone knows that The Exorcist is a frightening film. The decisión to see it is a major one - if you go it could mean you're a masochist. Or that you cannot resist a fad or you suffer from an illusion of yourself as a rational and objective being. I resisted the pull for weeks. Would you want to risk nightmares.vomiting fainting or a heart attack? All of these plus your basic scream, are the common after effects of seeing The Exorcist. I have asked dozens of victims how the film affected them, and nearly all replied with something like "I had to consciously avoid thinking about it before I went to sleep." Or "It stayed with me for days." But curiosity, and a renewed faith in my rationalism got the best of me when I heard a revivalist minister talk about it on the AM radio one Sunday evening. He began with a warning not to take your children. He went'on to say how happy he was that the film was so popular, and that the country is so widely interested and believing in demons and the supernatural that remain unexplained by modern science. The Exorcist told the minister what he and any good Christian had known all . along, and Jesús has been telling us for centruies -- demons, as agents of Satan himself, can and will possess the human soul. Only official agents of the Almighty himself can recognize and do combat with these agents of Satan. No amount of good deeds can redeem the lowly mortal from his fate. If possessed, he or she must be either exorcised or executed, as so many women were here in the Salem Witch Trials of seventeenth century Massachusetts. I know only one person who has not been frightened by the film. This exceptionally objective being is not only well versed in movies and special effects, but he is also a bitter ex-Catholic. He understood and resented the film as a crass and fear-inducing commercial for the Jesuit Order, for it is these priests who succeed in exorcising the de vil. The priests are not only the héroes of The Exorcist, they are just a bunch of regular guys, who love their mothers, like to play piano and sing, drink and enjoy liquor. The most heroic of them all, Father Karass, is also handsome, compassionate, and a good boxer. So why see this film that is nearly guaranteed to scare the brains right out of your head? Why is it one of the most popular and the most discussed movies in the country now? Is it because we are all in a state of mind where we want to be frightened? Or do we simply desire strong emotional stimulus to brighten our dreary institutionalized lives? Does Americajust love movies and want to know they're getting a lot out of their S2.00 ticket? Certainly fear is the easiest emotion for movies to induce. The Exorcist reminded me of a carnival or amusement park. Those rather pleasant rides like the ferris wheel have been usurped by the scary rides that have the same physical effects as The Exorcist- screams, vomiting, fainting and heart attacks. The twisted appeal and theme of the movie is the same as a number of other current films. Our modern institutions of science, medicine and government smugly pretend to have all the answers, but they fail to fulfill human needs and also fail to explain a number of diseáses and events. Many movies, such as Chariots of the Gods, bring out these holes in our in stitutions. There are also all those honest and courageous cop movies - The French Connection, Serpico, Magnum Force, and Walking Tall. Like The Exorcist , these enormously successful films question the smugness and shallowness of our social institutions. They dweil on bizarre events, or deeply imbedded corruption. that can be neither explained nor cured by our medicine, science or government. The questions these movies raise are important, but the answers they.give, using special effects and twisted melodramas, are violent, reactionary and heavily fearinducing. The Exorcist is perhaps the lowest of them all. The movie manufactures fear by its highly skilled manipulation of special effects. These combine with a behavioral psychologist's knowledge of what is most deeply and permanently frightening to the human mind. Sound, light, imagery, editing and makeup expertise are fitted tightly into a highly appealing story and set of characters. The people begin as charming, likeable, even enviable amidst a peaceful and wealthy existence in Washington D.C.'s historie and ritzy Georgetown area. The relatively tranquil life of a renowned actress and her family is slowly disrupted by the disturbingactivities of her twelve year old daughter. The child undergoes anguished mental and physical attacks that grow increasingly bizarre. No doctor - from neurologist to psychologist - can explain or discover what's wrong with her. Though these twentieth century specialists will not admit it, it grows clear that the girl is possessed by a devil and overtaken by evil spirits. A Jesuit priest-psychiatnst comes to the rescue and aids in an exorcism performed by a Jesuit with experience among primitive cultures. The girl-devil kills three people, but after a ton of horror, Satan is overeóme, and peaCe returns. The movie converts you through its incredible mastery of special effects. The girl is made into an excruciatirgly frightful mask of the devil through the application of layers of swelling make-up to her face, which is a white puffiness cut through by bloody cracks. Her eyes are glassed over and deeply glaring, sometimes entirely white. Her sweet little voice is replaced by a well made studio track of many different voices, combined with animalistic grunts and howls. It isn't terribly difficult for film 'science to make her appear suspended in air, or to cause her head to revolve, or to give her superhuman strength, or to make people appear to throw themselves out of Windows like violent missiles when she commands it. How ironie that a film which attacks the short-sightedness of modern seience and medicine is completely constructed and made believable through the modern science of movie special effects! The far greater irony is the studied use of these special effects in a manner which the film makers are entirely aware will induce maximum fear. I warn you don't go - and and if you do bring some bunders and ear plugs because there's no sense in making vourself miserable.