Released: 19th November
Seen: 20th November
So, fun fact, I was meant to see a film very similar to this about a year ago. When I went to the Sydney Underground Film Festival one of the films that I was meant to see was called Friedkin Uncut, a documentary about the director of The Exorcist. For some reason the film was pulled a few days before the screening and I never got to see it. At the time I could’ve gone to another film that was screening at the same time but instead I chose to just skip it and go to my next film of the day (since that day I had four other films to see).
My next film ended up being Memory: The Origins of Alien which I ended up loving, it’s out on DVD now and you should watch it. Why bring this up? Because turns out the director of Memory: The Origins of Alien directed a documentary about William Friedkin, the director of the Exorcist and I just had to share that wild link to this film because I don’t know how much I have to say about this.
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist is basically an hour and a half long Ted talk about the ideas that Friedkin put into making one of the greatest horror films of all time. From the artworks that influenced certain shots to the process he went through that finally ended up making Tubular Bells one of the most terrifying pieces of music to be put on screen, Friedkin is giving an intellectual peek behind the curtain to show just how much thought goes into the truly great films.
If you come to this film expecting a fun little behind the scenes talk about The Exorcist, you’re going to be in for a bad time. There’s no real talk of effects or how certain scenes were shot, we only really talk about casting in two instances (Jason Miller and Mercedes McCambridge) and there’s maybe one or two real onset stories (such as the well known story of how Friedkin just shot a rifle in the air in order to get the reaction he wanted).
Most of this film is about artistic influences and how they shaped the making of The Exorcist. From classic paintings to film, we get to see how Friedkin’s mind put together everything that was needed to create the most terrifying film of all time. With judicious use of clips to illustrate his points, Friedkin’s lengthy talk is a must see for any future filmmakers who want to know just what kind of detail they should be ready to go into for their work.
There’s very little footage here that one might consider new to an audience who loves this movie, except possibly the shots of Regan post-possession where they haven’t dubbed in Mercedes McCambridge yet so we’re hearing little Linda Blair saying “Kindly remove these straps” (it was a wise choice for them to not let us hear the sound of Linda yelling “Let Jesus fuck you!”). Mostly we’re just watching this legendary director go into detail about his work.
This is one of those films that, on the surface, feels like it could be kind of boring when it’s simply a single person just talking but there’s actually a lot of fascinating details here that any film fan can enjoy. It’s the kind of film that you have to be in a very specific mood for but if you’re in the right frame of mind to properly enjoy an hour and a half long lecture by a cinematic great, this is definitely one of the best versions of that concept that you’ll find.
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist is interesting, up to a point. It’s certainly going for a more intellectual style of exploring the behind the scenes (which makes sense if you’ve seen Memory and understand what this director seems to like making films about) however by having only one interview subject, your mileage may vary on how long you want to listen to Friedkin pontificate about what goes into the ideas behind a film. If nothing else it’s one very fascinating little film.