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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist - Documentary Review


The Documentary: Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist

The Director: Alexandre O. Philippe

The Story: A lyrical and spiritual cinematic essay on The Exorcist, exploring the depths of William Friedkin's mind's eye, the nuances of his filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that have shaped his life and filmography.


The Review:
I'm going to be honest with you here. It' been so long since I've watched The Exorcist, there's a lot of it I don't remember although what I do remember makes me think I was too young to watch it. Even without the movie being anywhere near fresh in my mind, it was pure cinematic magic listening to William Friedkin talk about his film and I feel like I attended master class of some sort just by watching this documentary. The way director Alexandre O. Philippe just lets Friedkin go on and on is a very interesting presentation style although I had zero problems with it, he could ramble all day if he wanted to.

The way Friedkin breaks down scenes and deconstructs them also removes some of the magic of moviemaking although not in a bad way at all. You may have had some high concept notion about what a certain scene means and what all went into creating bit, but no, Friedkin tells you he had no intent or message or any significance, he just thought it felt right to create a scene in a certain way. He does say that he loves all of the speculation and thought that goes into dissecting his films which of course is what art is supposed to do.

There's a lot going on and a lot to take in with this documentary and there are people much smarter and more experienced in the world of cinema that can properly digest it and then turn around and talk about it so I'm not even going to try and go down that path. There's a lot of history that Friedkin discusses and references not just in film but in art and music and culture that is just brilliant and I am just happy to have been able to scratch the surface of what it all means. Friedkin discusses a lot of his influences, people he has worked with, people he almost worked with, and people he ended up not wanting to work with during the creation of the movie.

Some of the casting choices seemed so out of left field but of course ended up being so perfect and I wonder what the movie would have been if different actors, composers, and other behind the scenes people had been involved in place of who ultimately got the jobs. Friedkin absolutely had a particular vision for what he wanted the movie to be and, fortunately for us, he rarely ever compromised. Except for one very important scene where he let someone else dictate how it should play out, a scene that of course I'm not going to reveal here, you can discover for yourself when you watch the film.


The Verdict:
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist is the type of documentary that is essential viewing for movie fans and genre buffs alike. The whole thing is expertly unraveled straight from the mind of the man who created one of the most iconic and truly scary horror movies of all time.


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