BFI Modern Classics: The Exorcist
Author: Mark Kermode
Publisher: BFI publishing
The recent re-release of Friedkin’s 1973 classic provides an excellent excuse to look at Kermode’s thoughtful and wide-ranging analysis of the film. Published in a slim, well-produced volume, this ‘Modern Classics’ imprint oozes style throughout. It is intelligently illustrated in full colour, with film stills and production photos on almost every page. Kermode kicks off with a brief recap of the real life events in 1949 on which Blatty’s novel was based, then takes a leisurely stroll through the film itself, before bringing us up to date on lost footage, new endings and the on-going dynamics between Blatty and Friedkin. There is even a great bibliography. There’s plenty here to interest fans and non-fans alike, although the minutiae of production details are only mentioned when they’re really peculiar. For instance, did you know the eerie scratching noises in the attic were really hamsters inside a kettle drum? You can tell Kermode has really got under the skin of The Exorcist, and delights in revealing the inside story on the infamous subliminal images, the certificate-busting masturbation scene and even the mixed reaction the film received when it burst upon an unsuspecting public. A film with as much substance as The Exorcist demands a thorough, balanced treatment, and here Kermode excels, discussing the issues and imagery without ever resorting to film-school cliches. This book will never be comprehensive enough for a real fan, but as a handy companion to one of the seminal horror films, it is first class.
Superb companion to a superb film