Commentary: 50 Years Later, ‘The Exorcist’ Continues to Possess Hollywood’s Imagination, Reflecting Our Obsession with Evil

The Exorcist

When the “The Exorcist” premiered 50 years ago, in December 1973, some theatergoers fainted or broke down in tears. A few even vomited.

The film, which cast a young Linda Blair as a girl claiming to be possessed by the devil, was an almost instant success, with moviegoers waiting in line for hours to secure tickets. It went on to gross over US$440 million worldwide.

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Commentary: The Surprising Christian Values in ‘The Exorcist’

In his four-out-of-four review of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, film critic Roger Ebert wrote that the picture “transcends the genre of terror, horror, and the supernatural.” However, Ebert did not address perhaps the most compelling element of the 1973 classic horror film: that buried deep within the gruesome story of a demon-inhabited 12-year-old girl is one of the most authentically theological films ever made.

The protagonist of The Exorcist is not, as one might expect, either the possessed Regan MacNeil or her mother, Chris (each of whom take up a majority of the screen time). After all, neither of them complete a character arc during the film.

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