When William Friedkin shot “The Exorcist” in 1973, he had never seen an exorcism, though even at the time he believed in the power of this rite. Decades later, the U.S. director came full circle when he was able to film one close up — involving violent thrashing, foaming at the mouth and screaming — thanks to Father Gabriele Amorth, who performed exorcisms for the Vatican’s Rome Diocese. The result is documentary “The Devil and Father Amorth,” which screened at the Venice Film Festival. Friedkin spoke to Variety about the experience.
What was the experience of witnessing a real exorcism so close up like?
I had to shoot it alone, obviously. The conditions were that I come along with no crew and no lights. So I used a Sony still camera that shot high-definition video. I had only that camera running and I was about two feet away from them, probably even closer. 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.
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