The Exorcist

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The Exorcist is a American supernatural film directed by William Friedkin and written for the screen by William Peter Blatty, based on his 1971 novel of the same name. The film stars Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller and Linda Blair.

Despite the book’s bestseller status, Blatty, who produced, and Friedkin, his choice for director, had difficulty casting the film. After turning down, or being turned down by, major stars of the era, they cast Burstyn, a relative unknown, as well as unknowns Blair and Miller (author of a hit play with no film acting experience); the casting choices were vigorously opposed by studio executives at Warner Bros. Pictures. Principal photography was also difficult.

A fire destroyed the majority of the set, and Blair and Burstyn suffered long-term injuries in on-set accidents. Ultimately production took twice as long as scheduled and cost more than twice the initial budget.

Lankester Merrin, a veteran Catholic priest, is on an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Hatra in Iraq. Alerted by a young boy assisting with the dig, he finds a sculpture that resembles Pazuzu, a demon of ancient origins with whose history Merrin is familiar. With this, Merrin prepares to leave Iraq as he knows he must battle the demon Pazuzu once again. Soon afterwards, after taking heart medication, Merrin encounters a statue towering over him in the image of Pazuzu; along with two dogs fighting, one white and one black, personifying the ancient battle of good vs evil. Both an omen warning him of a looming confrontation.

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