Posted on Saturday, November 14th, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
William Peter Blatty, author of the original Exorcist novel and subsequent Oscar winning screenplay, has revealed that the big boss of the 1973 movie, William Friedkin, has agreed to direct a new version. Brace yourself for a 3D do-over with a younger cast and all-CG effects… then unbrace because, actually, I don’t think that’s what we’re set for here at all. No need to spin your head and spew pea soup quite yet…. but how will Mark Kermode, The World’s Biggest Exorcist Fan, react to this news, I wonder?
Blatty has written the new Exorcist in the form of a miniseries teleplay. If Mad Men, The Sopranos and The Wire have shown me anything (besides women in tight sweaters, sudden cuts to black and 101 reasons to not go to Baltimore) it’s that the expectations for even quite mainstream television can be allowed to overlap with the expectations we typically reserve for literature. This could work well for the new Exorcist.
On the bigger canvas of a miniseries, Blatty would be able to include a lot of the original novel’s material not seen in the movie, as well as make some fresh changes he’d have us believe are for the best.
I would love to have been able to include the subplot involving Karl and his daughter Elvira which I did in my first draft, but that script ran to 172 pages, much, much too long. But I might have it my way in the near future, inasmuch as I’ve written an Exorcist miniseries script that not only faithfully includes all the main elements of the novel, but also some rather spooky new material and scenes, as well as a totally new (and perhaps much more satisfying) ending.
There’s no real indication of Blatty has written this script on spec or has some kind of deal with a broadcaster or production company but I’d imagine it’s something more like the former, if only at the moment.
The recent French Connection Blu-ray has just about the worst transfer of any film in the digital era, all thanks directly to the digital fiddling of Friedkin. The picture has been altered in such a gross and seemingly pretentious fashion that I almost sent a bereavement card to cinematographer Owen Roizman – who had not been consulted and finds the colour-smeared, borderline blurry transfer “appalling” and “atrocious”.
I think that Blu-ray SNAFU is a pretty clear indicator that Friedkin is… eccentric, strong willed and very possibly not best left in charge of remaking one of his few true legacy pictures. Think George Lucas without 100 Acres crammed with CG boffins but the same reckless will to “update”.