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The Exorcist (1973)

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When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.

Director:

William Friedkin

Writers:

William Peter Blatty (written for the screen by), William Peter Blatty (novel)
Popularity
812 ( 16)
Top Rated Movies #246 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ellen Burstyn ... Chris MacNeil
Max von Sydow ... Father Merrin
Lee J. Cobb ... Lt. William Kinderman
Kitty Winn ... Sharon
Jack MacGowran ... Burke Dennings
Jason Miller ... Father Karras
Linda Blair ... Regan
William O'Malley ... Father Dyer (as Reverend William O'Malley S.J.)
Barton Heyman ... Dr. Klein
Peter Masterson ... Dr. Barringer - Clinic Director (as Pete Masterson)
Rudolf Schündler ... Karl
Gina Petrushka Gina Petrushka ... Willi
Robert Symonds ... Dr. Taney
Arthur Storch ... Psychiatrist
Thomas Bermingham Thomas Bermingham ... Tom - President of University (as Reverend Thomas Bermingham S.J.)
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Storyline

A visiting actress in Washington, D.C., notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, a young priest at nearby Georgetown University begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother's terminal sickness. And, book-ending the story, a frail, elderly priest recognizes the necessity for a show-down with an old demonic enemy. Written by Andrew Harmon <aharmon@erols.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Nobody expected it, nobody believed it, and nobody could stop it. The one hope, the only hope: THE EXORCIST See more »

Genres:

Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin | Greek | French | German | Arabic | Kurdish

Release Date:

26 December 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (1979 re-release)| DTS-ES (director's cut)| Dolby Digital EX (director's cut)| Mono (original release)| SDDS (director's cut)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In an interview on the January 12, 2007 broadcast of the Mr. KABC radio program it was revealed that actress/comedienne April Winchell was being seriously considered for the part of Regan MacNeil; however, she had developed a serious kidney infection which caused her to be hospitalized and ultimately taken out of consideration. See more »

Goofs

When Karras listens to the recording of possessed Regan backwards, the questions the priest asks her are heard speaking forward. The questions should be heard backwards.

Correction: We don't hear Karras at all when he's listening to the tapes. We only hear Regan speaking backwards at first, and then forwards after the linguist explains she is speaking plain English in reverse. We don't hear Karras' voice at all in that sequence, only Regan's. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Boy: [in Arabic] They've found something... small pieces.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits after the title. Although it is commonplace now, it was unheard of in 1973. See more »

Alternate Versions

The scene where the Demonic entity leaves Father Karres was originally done by filming Jason Miller in possession makeup, then stopping the camera and shooting him again with the makeup removed. This creates a noticeable jump in Father Karress's position as he is unpossessed. The 25'th anniversary video releases of "The Exorcist" smooth over the jumpy transition with a subtle computer morph effect. This updated effect was not featured in the prints used for the 75th Anniversary Warner Brothers film festivals See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Lords of Salem (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Fantasia for Strings
Written by Hans Werner Henze
Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
They don't make em like they used to...
17 May 2005 | by somesunnydaySee all my reviews

"The scariest movie of all time". Some movie goers agree and some disagree. I belong to the former group, though I would like to rephrase it to "One of the scariest movies of all time". For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past twenty two years, the story is of a pre-pubescent girl, Regan (Linda Blair), possessed by a demon whom purports to be the Devil himself ("Now kindly undo these straps!").

In this day and age of schlock fest horror films being relentlessly released (or spewed out for want of a better term) by the big wig studios on a quest to cash in on the latest teenage trend, this premise for a horror story may not seem so scary to most. However, it's the road we take to arrive at this supposition that makes this film stand out from the rest.

The seeds of dread and fear are planted early with screen legend Max Von Sydow's Father Merrin receiving disturbing and familiar Omens of what is to come during an archaeological dig in Northern Iraq.

We're then taken to the setting where the real horror will begin in the Georgetown home of Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), a successful divorcée film actress living with her daughter Regan. We're initially presented with a Regan who loves horses, has a close and loving relationship with her mother, is uncomfortable with the strained relationship between her parents and has the innocent demeanour and narrow vocabulary of every normal young girl.

The carefully crafted and ever so gradual change in Regan's personality, the strange drawings and figurines she creates, the emergence of Captain Howdy (Regan's imaginary friend) and strange outbursts ("You're gonna die up there") and so called physical convulsions force Chris to turn to doctors and eventually psychiatrists to try and get to the bottom of Regan's ever worsening behaviour. Her vocabulary becomes quite extensive with spine chilling, sudden maturity and her outbursts more terrifyingly violent. After exhausting all the "somatic" possibilities for Regan's troubles Chris desperately seeks help from world weary Jesuit Psychiatrist Priest Father Karras (Jason Miller) requesting an exorcism.

By the time Karras meets Regan, any semblance of the innocent young girl has completely vanished. Karras is grappling with his faith and subsequently doubts she is truly 'possessed'. Finally convinced that an exorcism is the way to go, he seeks permission from the Catholic Church, who grant him with the condition that he perform it with the help of the experienced Father Merrin.

Merrin arrives like a knight in shining armour for the ultimate showdown! A great screenplay by William Peter Blatty (based on his book), intelligent directing from William Friedken and outstanding performances from all the cast, particularly Ellen Burstyn as the traumatised mother make for a classic piece of horror that will stand the test of time. 10/10


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