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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
886 ( 119)
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:

Somewhere between science and superstition, there is another world. The world of darkness. 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

The closing theme, "Fantasia for Strings" by Hans Werner Henze, was previously used as incidental music by the composer in his score for Young Törless (1966). See more »

Goofs

Father Karras's lighter changes hands just as he is about to light a cigarette in his apartment. 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

A new edition, labeled "The version you've never seen", was released on September 22, 2000 and includes the following additions and changes.
  • A slightly different opening, which shows the MacNeil's home in Georgetown, then cuts to the opening titles.
  • The scene where Chris MacNeil screams on the phone includes a new music cue and omits the line "I've been on this fucking line for 20 minutes!" and simply cuts to the next scene.
  • A new scene with Regan at the hospital receiving treatment to diagnose her "unusual" behavior. The doctor tells Chris MacNeil that Regan told him to "keep his hands away from her Goddamn c--t." This scene sets up her bizarre behavior earlier and clarifies the scene where Chris tells Regan "it's just like the doctor said, it's just nerves. You just take your pills and you'll be fine"
  • The party scene removes the shot of Regan laughing with the guests, obviously because of her "unusual" behavior in the previous scene.
  • In the scene where Chris returns home and the lights go out, new digital effects including satanic faces and images of the statue, new sound effects, and music have been added to the scene. However in the blu-ray version, re-titled "Extended Director's Cut", one effect of the demon Pazuzu's face appearing on Regan's door has been removed.
  • The "spider-walk" scene has been restored and digitally altered from the original scene. Here, crude wires from the scene have been digitally removed, she comes down the stairs much faster, and a second take with her mouth is full of blood was used instead of a serpent tongue. It then cuts to black, and the next scene opens.
  • Before she grabs the psychiatrist's crotch, a new digital effect of her face morphing into the devil(which is seen in subliminal cuts throughout)including a new growl has been added.
  • A new music cue has been added to the scene with Lt. Kinderman and Father Karras.
  • After Father Karras leaves for the night, a new scene of him examining a tape of Regan trying to talk to her dad has been added and a new music cues ties the new scene and the scene of Father Karras at the mass together.
  • New scenes with Sharon trying to tune out the devil groans and a short moment with Chris MacNeil and Father Merrin(which hints his vulnerability and weakness) have been added.
  • A new music cue has been added to the scene with Father Karras and Father Merrin going up the stairs to perform the exorcism, and a short scene has been added before they enter the room. Father Damien asks Chris MacNeil what Regan's middle name is. She tells him it's Theresa, and he says "what a lovely name."
  • The scene with Father Karras and Father Merrin talking on the stairs (which was included on the 25th Anniversary DVD) has been restored.
  • When Father Karras looks up at the window when he's possessed, a new digital effect with Karras' mother's face has been added, and the scene includes the "subtle morph effect" that was included on the 25th anniversary edition DVD.
  • When Chris MacNeil gives Father Dyer Father Karras' medal, he gives it back to her and says "I think you should keep it", instead of simply keeping it as in the original version. A new short scene of Regan smiling and waving at Father Dyer as they drive away and Father Dyer waving back has been added.
  • The original ending with Father Dyer and Lt. Kinderman has been restored. The 'tubular bells' music cue plays over them walking away, and it ends before Lt. Kinderman can say quote "Casablanca", "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship".
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Reflections on Golden Pond (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Carly and Carole
(uncredited)
Written by Eumir Deodato
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Unmatched brilliance
28 March 2000 | by pheonix19See all my reviews

There is a reason for the hysteria and mystique surrounding THE EXORCIST. And it's called genius.

Never have I seen a film matched in shock, terror, writing, or performances. This isn't a horror movie. The film itself is both a moving and terrifying drama that takes a realistic look at what would actually happen if a young girl were possessed in modern America. William Peter Blatty's script is amazing, bringing depth to the characters, and presenting the mystery of faith that they all deal with. Is Regan possessed? Is she insane? And most importantly, Is there a God? In the course of two hours, we see a sweet and innocent young girl become a cross masturbating, head spinning, murderous, creature. We see a successful actress overcome skepticism to save her daughter, and we see a brilliant psychiatrist struggle with his devotion to God as a priest.

Friedkin's direction is marvelous, with wonderful uses of light, dark, and color throughout the film. Jason Miller (as Damien Karras) is beautifully subtle in his first film acting role. Max Von Sydow and Lee J. Cobb provide engaging supporting performances as the experienced priest who senses his impending doom, and a detective who senses something sinister is at work. Ellen Burstyn gives a brutally honest performance as a grief stricken woman trying to save her daughter. And most of all, a 12-year-old Linda Blair gives one of the most terrifying, convincing, and beautiful performances ever shown on film. Her range of emotion and connection to Regan are astonishing. She deserved that Oscar!

THE EXORCIST presents to us the mystery of faith in it's most raw form--the battle of good and evil. It is an incomparable masterpiece of film, done without the aid of computers and special effects. It relies on story and performances to give us a marvelous and terrifying piece of work. In the end, it makes us ask ourselves what we believe, and keeps us wondering and shuddering at exactally what might be out there.


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