Usa / 68’
screenplay William Friedkin, Mark Kermode
cinematographer William Friedkin
additional cinematography by Robert Yeoman, George Giaimo
editor Gary Leva
music written by Christopher Rouse
conducted by Roque Banos
Before I directed The Exorcist, I had not seen an exorcism and knew nothing about it. Neither had Bill Blatty, who wrote the novel and the screenplay. There was not much written on the subject, and most of it was outright lies or fantasy. The Catholic Church is close-mouthed about these cases and for good reason so, in all ways, The Exorcist is a work of fiction. Some 45 years later, through what can only be called Providence, I was able to meet Father Gabriele Amorth, who was known as the Vatican exorcist and the “dean” of exorcists. For 31 years, he was the exorcist for the diocese of Rome. I had known about him for many years but found it difficult to believe he had performed thousands of exorcisms. How was this possible and what is this phenomena that continues to fascinate and terrify millions of people around the world, even those who are non-Catholic and non-believers? When, on an impulse, I wrote to a theologian friend In Rome, asking if I might meet Father Amorth, to my astonishment, he wrote back in a few days that the Father would meet me on April 5 (2016) at 9am at his residence in Rome. We spoke for more than two hours before I asked him if he might ever allow me to witness and film an exorcism. He asked for a few days to think about it, then sent me a message that he was performing an exorcism at 3pm on Sunday May 1st, the day of his 91st birthday, and that I could attend and film it, but alone, with no other crew and no lights. This film is a record of what I experienced that day, along with the opinions of some of the leading brain surgeons and psychiatrists in the United States, to whom I had shown the film. For me, it was a harrowing experience, a voyage of discovery, and the closing of a circle that began more than 45 years ago.