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Leap of Faith: Notes on Friedkin and the Exorcist.

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Although the documentary seems to be based on Friedkin's commentary on the Exorcist film in its introduction, it is about his entire directorial approach, his view on movies, and his personal life inferences. We can say that it is unique for enthusiasts. It's impossible to watch from outside the US. I don't know why the documentary was not opened to the public.

First and foremost, the most significant event in the documentary, in my opinion, is a secret revealed for the first time by Friedkin. That is, the film says that the author of the novel will give Friedkin all the proceeds from the film to play the role of Reverend Karras. Of course, Friedkin denies this and casts someone with no acting experience in the film, but the role seems tailor-made for him; after all, "the camera loves him (Miller)"



At the beginning of the documentary, Friedkin says that he created the shooting plan for the film based on the novel, not the original script for the Exorcist adaptation, for which Blatty won an Oscar for "Best Adapted Screenplay."



He clearly explains why, while writing the book, the initial Iraq scene seemed "unnecessary," even to the editors who included it in the film. Those scenes create a great deal of mystery and tension for the events that will take place in the movie. He talks about how important those scenes are, even though they don't seem to be necessary without big things happening in both northern Iraq and Washington. In fact, those scenes set up what will happen next and prepare the audience.


The scene in the iconic poster of the movie is inspired by René Magritte's painting The Empire of Light. We knew that, and of course, he says it again.



When the high priest (Max Von Sydow) fails to perform well in the exorcism scenes, Friedkin suggests that because Sydow has worked with Ingmar Bergman for many years, he should invite Bergman to the set and call Bergman. The actor says that the problem has nothing to do with Bergman; he just couldn't get into the role because he doesn't believe in God. It is strange that someone who has even played the role of "Jesus" before would make such a statement. "There I was playing the human Jesus," he says. Friedkin is good too; when you say play like that, the role of Merrin we see in the movie starts to perform. This is an anecdote that sounds ridiculous to me.



At the end of the movie, the controversial scene is Father Karras telling the devil to "get inside me" after his fight with Regan and Karras jumping out of the window when the devil leaves the little girl and enters Karras.


Friedkin sees this page as a small stain on the white sheet, which he still sees as a problem 50 years later. Because there are things in his mind that are not understood and do not fit. Suicide is a great sin. Friedkin claims that even if Karras sacrifices himself to the little girl and jumps with the devil inside him, knowing he will die eventually, he will not be able to live.So, is the devil taking over Karras and throwing him down? Friedkin asks the author. The author says no. He claims that if he jumped consciously, he committed suicide.In the end, even if his friend, who is truly a father, comes to confession, committing one of the greatest sins can still have the same meaning as the devil's victory... or it can be shown as the reason for regaining his faith by sacrificing such an event while Karras claims to have lost his faith as a director.He says he can't defend the stage.


He talks about the meaning of the small moments of the movie, the scenes that seem to repeat each other. For example, Chris sees the nuns walking towards the house. The nuns are in white. They are happy. Chris is happy. We see two children dressed as witches running after the nuns, chasing them.




We hear a phrase thrown at Father Karras by a homeless man on the subway, pronounced by Reagan with a demon inside him. Karras isn't quite sure there. Was that what the man on the subway said the other day? Maybe even this small detail is one of the deceptions that we have witnessed that the devil fulfills in the movie.

In one scene of the movie, Father Karras is startled by a sudden phone ringing. Friedkin, the phone didn't ring there. "I shot," he says. "It was a method for the director to have this kind of mobbing with the actors in the filmmaking concept at the time," he says. "We saw it that way," he says.


After dealing only with the content of this movie, which I have become obsessed with, it never occurred to me to mention its director and writer. I can say that Friedkin does not have a single known film in Turkey other than The Exorcist. Even if "French Connection" did win an Oscar, few people know it's a Friedkin movie. I haven't watched his other movies, and I don't plan to watch them either. Sometimes I think one movie is enough to love the director and learn about his style. And in the documentary, he talks about some of the patterns in all of Friedkin's films, specific to auteur cinema.


Finally, my favorite thing about Friedkin is that, even at this age, he talks about movies with a passion. In addition to having definite judgments about the subjects, it is completely unknown why we came, what is happening, and what it is to live, but it is full of life. In the last 10-15 minutes of the documentary, he talks about how valuable it is to have stones that have been found since ancient times during his visit to Japan and Kyoto, the existence of civilization, and the ability to come to these days and engage with them. This causes him to marvel at all kinds of things and derive great pleasure from the little things. Therefore, I listen to all the interviews I come across on the internet. The majority of his interviews spanned nearly 50 years; even what they say in this documentary is the same. It's like a repertoire is always getting new pieces, but the main structure stays the same.

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