“I don’t think I will ever be the same having seen this astonishing thing.”
That’s what William Friedkin, the director of the horror classic “The Exorcist,” said to an audience at the Cannes film festival last week.
As reported by Agence France-Presse, Friedkin, 80, claimed that earlier this month he was allowed to film a real exorcism at the Vatican. “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,” he said.
The Vatican denied “making any such invitation. The Vatican (itself) does not have an exorcist,” a spokesman told AFP. “People often confuse any Catholic initiative/organization/person with the Vatican. Perhaps this is the case here.”
Friedkin said he intended to shoot “The Exorcist” as a horror movie, but the more he learned the more it became a case study of a real exorcism. The film recounts the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and an exorcism conducted on her by two priests.
“When I started I thought I was making a horror film and then the priest, who was the president of Georgetown University (in Washington DC), let me read these diaries and I knew that it was not a horror film,” Friedkin told AFP. “This was a case of exorcism.”
The real life case that “The Exorcist” was based on involved a boy. Friedkin said he believed the boy was genuinely possessed. “I’m convinced that there was no other explanation. I read the diaries not only of the priest involved (in the exorcism), but the doctors, the nurses and the patients at Alexian Brothers Hospital in Saint Louis where this case was carried out,” he added.
“Everything having to do with medical science and psychiatry was attempted. This young man suffered from afflictions very similar to what’s in the film, as hard is that is to believe.”