the devil and father amorth trailer

When William Friedkin released his iconic horror film The Exorcist in 1973, he had never seen an exorcism. But decades later, that would change. Now, Friedkin has made a documentary diving into the exploits of a real-life exorcist: The Devil and Father Amorth.

Friedkin developed a fascination with the rite after directing The Exorcist, itself based on an actual 1949 exorcism of a young boy in Cottage City, Maryland.

Itching to see an exorcism for himself — whether to prove his film’s authenticity or disprove the practice altogether, it’s unclear — he came in contact with Father Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist. The pair shared a fascination with each other and bonded over the course of 30 years. Three years ago, Father Amorth invited Friedkin to witness a real-life exorcism.

The Devil and Father Amorth Trailer

Friedkin has been obsessively following Father Amorth’s career for years, even writing a Vanity Fair article about his experience witnessing an exorcism. That article would become the basis for this documentary.

You can feel Friedkin’s fascination with the rituals seep throughout the trailer — and it’s clear that he’s more of a believer today than when he proudly declared himself as agnostic during the release of The Exorcist. But even when I recently saw The Exorcist for the first time, there’s an air of earnestness that Friedkin demonstrates — giving equal dramatic weight to the demonic imagery and the cold medical scenes.

“I made that film as a believer,” Friedkin said in 2014 about The Exorcist. He never saw it as a horror film. Now The Devil and Father Amorth feels like Friedkin’s attempt to share those beliefs with the rest of the world.

Here is the official synopsis for The Devil and Father Amorth:

Years after he changed the landscape of American filmmaking with 1973’s THE EXORCIST, director, co-writer and legendary storyteller William Friedkin moves from fiction to fact with his new documentary, THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH. What began as a brief conversation between Friedkin and Father Gabrielle Amorth – the head Exorcist for the Diocese of Rome for over 30 years – as two professionals who knew of each other’s work soon transformed into an once-in-a- lifetime opportunity, as Amorth agreed Friedkin could film an exorcism ceremony. It would be the ninth exorcism for a painfully afflicted woman, Cristina (a pseudonym), who had already been under Father Amorth’s care – and it would be filmed by Friedkin alone, with no other crew allowed, no light other than the natural light in the room and a small digital camera-and-mic unit that could capture the ritual and its revelations.

Combining the startling and singular footage from Cristina’s exorcism with interviews from priests and psychologists, neurosurgeons and non-believers, Friedkin guides us on a journey into the twilight world between the boundaries of what we know and what we don’t with a singular and startling guide in the form of the urbane, charming and self-deprecatingly funny Father Amorth, a man who laughs in the face of the Devil both figuratively and literally. Combining Friedkin’s past memories and present observations with archival footage and new interviews – as well as also presenting what may be the only real exorcism ceremony captured on film – THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH is a startling and surprising story of the religion, the ritual and the real-world victims involved in possession and exorcism.

The Devil and Father Amorth will be released in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on April 20, 2018.

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