When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd — levitating, speaking in tongues — her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Jason Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (Max von Sydow) to help with the difficult job.
Friedkin hit paydirt with this blockbuster cultural phenomenon that traumatized a generation of moviegoers and forever cemented his name in the genre filmmaker hall of fame.
Programmers’ Note: Due to this month’s release of the new 4K restoration in honor of the film’s 50th Anniversary, THE EXORCIST has been unavailable to screen theatrically for most of the year, and could not be included alongside the rest of the selections in September’s Friedkin tribute.
“If movies are, among other things, opportunities for escapism, then THE EXORCIST is one of the most powerful ever made… This movie doesn’t rest on the screen; it’s a frontal assault.” —Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (Dec 26, 1973) “An expert telling of a supernatural horror story… The climactic sequences assault the senses and the intellect with pure cinematic terror.” —Variety (Dec 31, 1973)