William Friedkin will forever be remembered as the director of 1973’s The Exorcist, a film that is considered one of the scariest movies ever made 4+ decades after its release. Recently, Friedkin completed his latest film, and while the topic is familiar, this is no work of embellished fiction—it’s a documentary.
Related Article: “Confrontation with Evil” Explores the Human Side of America’s Most Infamous Exorcism
In The Devil and Father Amorth, Friedkin films a real exorcism, an experience he described in 2017 as beyond horrifying.
Variety: What was the experience of witnessing a real exorcism so close up like?
Friedkin: It was terrifying. I went from being afraid of what could happen to feeling a great deal of empathy with this woman’s pain and suffering, which is obvious in the film.
V: You have subsequently consulted with scientists in the U.S. about what you witnessed and filmed. What did they say?
F: I consulted with neurologists, brain surgeons, some of the best in the United States. The brain surgeons had no idea what her affliction was and none of them would recommend an operation. They believe that everything originates in the brain but — and they say this in the film — they have never seen anything quite like these symptoms…. Then the psychiatrists…all described how Psychiatry now recognizes demonic possession. It’s called dissociative identity disorder/demonic possession. And if a patient comes in and says they are possessed by a demon or a devil, they don’t tell them that they are not…. They do whatever psychiatric treatment they think is necessary, including medication. And they bring an exorcist in.
We’re just getting our first look at the trailer for The Devil and Father Amorth; check it out below. The film gets a limited theatrical release beginning April 20th.
About The Devil and Father Amorth: Friedkin, of course, directed the screen adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist in 1973 which had moviegoers lining up around the block to see it. The documentary looks at how the exorcism in the movie compares to a real exorcism. The film’s title comes from the filmmaker’s ability to attend Father Gabiele Amorth’s ninth exorcism — it took place with an Italian woman who had been experiencing behavioral changes and “fits” that could not be explained by psychiatry; they became worse during Christian holidays.
Known as the “Dean of exorcists,” Father Amorth performed thousands of these rituals to rid evil from the human body. On the Italian woman, Father Amorth and the demon inside the woman began conversing in Latin, a language that the woman did not know. The priest has since died (at the age of 91). [Source]