#51 - The Exorcist (1973)

Posted March 24, 2015

For week 3 of 4 of our AudiencesEverywhere.net partnership, Brian and Shaun are joined by the most excellent Sean Fallon. We talk about the helplessness of parents, the horror of medical technology, being drunk in hotel rooms abroad, and the pacing of the 70’s. This week: The Exorcist (1973).

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As mentioned during the episode, Friedkin’s psychological thriller utilizes expert shot composition to get us into the heads of his characters.

In this shot in particular, Chris MacNeil, played by Ellen Burstyn, is dead-center of the frame and wearing contrasting clothing so that we can identify her, but she’s also in the deep middle-ground and surrounded on all sides by white-coated antagonists: an effective visual metaphor for her struggles against the medical establishment at this point in the film.

Figure 1. Every part of this frame indicates that Chris is being suffocated by the opinions of the medical professionals advising and surrounding her.

Director: William Friedkin
Writer: William Peter Blatty
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow