Sunday, August 22, 2004
"The power of the christ compels you!" (QuickTime movie)
As the only Hollywood movie that begins with Islamic call to worship Allah, The Exorcist (1973) is a unique film and worthy to watch, even after 31 years. It is even more interesting to see it now, when you know that the story begins in Iraq, shown as the birthplace of Evil, and ends in Washington DC, as the battlefield of Christianity and Evil -who is resurrected in the Islamic world. The last shot of the movie ends with the Evil still alive inside a seemingly innocent girl, passing through the beautiful George Town streets. The final shot is accompanied with the Islamic Azaan again, in the middle of George Town, reminding the viewer about the presence of the Evil, and relating it to the 'false religion.'
Written by William Peter Blatty(a Catholic) and directed by William Friedkin(a Jewish filmmaker), the movie is a good example of how a political ideology can be created by a seemingly neutral entertainment industry. What is unbelievable to me is that during all these 31 years no film critic has ever mentioned the anti-Islamic connotations of the movie. To realize how strange it is just imagine if there was any reference to anything Jewish in the scene presenting the demon. Such a thing not only couldn't be ignored for a minute (not for thirty one years), but the movie probably would have been immediately listed as a dreadful anti-semitic propaganda.
The ten minutes opening to the movie is shot in the city Mosul, Iraq. Beginning with an Islamic Azaan, the movie shows an old priest (played by one of my favorite actors, Max Von Sydow) unearthing a demon-like statue, representing a creature whose comeback to the world is accompanied by the unnerving sounds of snarling dogs: the Evil comes to the world again in this exotic far land that doesn't have anything to do with pre-evil happy life we see in the "Christian" Washington DC. In a series of preceding shots we see the priest passing praying muslims. Later on, we see him confronting the demon statue, symbolizing the battle between Christianity and the unearthed Evil. The Exorcist story, the fight between Christianity and the Evil begins here, in Iraq.
To me, The Exorcist is not a simple horror story of a little girl possessed by a demon, but a nightmarish part of a bigger mythology created by Hollywood cinema. This ready-to-digest mythologic system describes the world as a place for the confrontation of God and Satan. According to this mythology (which can be seen in any major horror, science fiction, adventure, or disaster movie) America is the main battlefield between these two, and American people have a pre-defined duty to save the world by supporting a superhero whose power comes from a divine force (yes,... no democratic institution is involved in this process). In all these 'good-fights-evil' movies the hero himself has never decided to be a hero. He is always chosen by the devine to carry a 'mission' for eradicating the Evil, and saving the world. As you see, we have a lot of sprituality here, a mixture of religion and imperialism to describe everyone's role in the New World Order.
A prequel to the original story, Exorcist: The Beginning was released two days ago and it became an immediate box office success. I haven't seen the movie yet, but according to what I have read in the news, similar to Exorcist II, the origin of the Evil in the recent movie has been moved to somewhere in the North Africa. What is not changed though, is the main pattern in the story: God fighting against Evil, America fighting against the unknown world.
P.S. Evidently, marketing Hollywood mythology to the world has been very successful. It has been even sold to the land of mythologies, Mesopotamia. Read the news here:
American troops launch 'Exorcist' tour at ancient temple