William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is long considered to be one of the greatest horror movies ever released. Building slowly and adding layer upon layer of tension, the film generated controversy and disgust upon its release. But it also won much acclaim, earning 10 Academy Award nominations, including becoming the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture. It’s mark on society is undeniable, which is why the following story is so interesting.
At this year’s Cannes film festival, Friedkin told a masterclass event about the time he was invited by the Roman Catholic Church to shoot an actual exorcism. “I was invited by the Vatican exorcist to shoot and video an actual exorcism which… few people have ever seen and which nobody has ever photographed. I am not talking about some cult, I am talking about an exorcism by the Catholic Church in Rome,” he explained.
The director also commented that the experience was remarkably similar to the version in his film and that witnessing it had a profound experience on him, stating, “I was pretty astonished by that. I don’t think I will ever be the same having seen this astonishing thing.”
While the 80-year-old director is adamant that this happened, the Vatican itself is denying any involvement or invitation, although they offer an alternative explanation. “The Vatican does not have an exorcist,“, a representative told AFP (Source). Instead, they explain, “People often confuse any Catholic initiative/organisation/person with the Vatican. Perhaps this is the case here.”