It is hard for me to explain why I like this movie so much. The supposed “true life” case that inspired the novel partially took home in my hometown, actually in a house a short walk from my university. So from junior high school onward, I was always hearing people talk about The Exorcist, but I never actually saw the film until long after I moved away, and so have only ever seen the expanded version that came out in 2000. But since then I have seen it many times, and will probably go on watching it at least once a year.
I don’t believe in forces of good and evil, be they gods or demons, and certainly do not believe in demonic possession. When a saw video clip of a conversation between screenwriter William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin which appeared on one of the 50 or so different DVD editions of The Exorcist that have been released so far, I was surprised and disappointed to hear that these two apparently intelligent men actually believe in possession and exorcism.
I have no belief in any of the idea presented in the movie, and think there is probably a good explanation for everything that was experienced in the real-life case that inspired the novel and film. I also don’t buy the common explanation that this film is so scary that it tap into all of our basic fears. At least that is not the case with me. I think it is just because Friedkin is such a master of pacing and tone that I love this film so much. It is not a case of his storytelling skills making possible a suspension of disbelief for me, but rather that the film is so obviously well made that I can revel in an example of what Hitchcock called “pure cinema.”