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The Exorcist (film)
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The Exorcist (film)

The Exorcist is an influential and successful 1973 horror film, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name.

In the film, a young girl named Regan, living in Georgetown, Washington, D.C, becomes ill after playing with a ouija board and undergoes a series of physical and pychological changes. Chris MacNeil, Regan's mother and a famous actress, failed by medicine, turns to religion; the girl is examined by a priest, Father Damien Karras, who is convinced of the diabolical nature of the case and turns to the local bishop, who appoints a second priest, Father Merrin, to perform an exorcism.

Directed by William Friedkin and starring Max von Sydow as Father Lankaster Merrin, Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil, Jason Miller as Father Damien Karras, Lee J. Cobb as Lieutenant William Kinderman and Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil (dubbed by Mercedes McCambridge when possessed); the film was a huge international hit, grossing as of 2004 $402,500,000 worldwide. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards (of which it won two) and also won four Golden Globes.

For its time, the film had a number of graphic and disturbing special effects, including subliminal images. It was originally rated X and shares with A Clockwork Orange and Midnight Cowboy the distinction of being one of only three X-rated films to be nominated for an Academy Award. (Midnight Cowboy was the only one of the three to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.) Like the later Saturday Night Fever, it was recut and re-rated in order to attract larger audiences, losing the controversial subliminal images. These were later reinserted into the "version you haven't seen" that was released in 2000.

There were two poorly-received sequels (1977 and 1990), and a parody sequel called Repossessed also in 1990. A prequel, Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) attracted controversy even before its release. The original director Paul Schrader was fired after the studio did not like his film (working title The Exorcist: Dominion). The whole film was then re-shot with Renny Harlin directing, and the original film shelved.

The movie is based on a true event that took place in Mount Rainier, Maryland, in January 1949. The victim was a thirteen-year-old boy named Robbie, and the ordeal lasted a little more than six weeks.

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