Yet another Exorcist movie!

George Lucas’s Revenge of the Sith ain’t the only controversial prequel about a guy going over to the Dark Side directed by a former darling of 1970s cinema that opens this weekend!

There is also Paul Schrader’s Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, and my review of it is up at CT Movies today.

This is the film that was shelved when the studio decided not only to send it back for reshoots, but to remake it virtually from scratch; that other version, directed by Renny Harlin (whose own Mindhunters, produced three years ago and released just last week, was sitting on a shelf of its own while all this happened), was released last summer as Exorcist: The Beginning (my review).

It is interesting to note that both The Exorcist (1973; my review) and Star Wars (1977) were released only a few years apart, and both were enormously popular in their day; indeed, it is quite possible that each film was, in the time immediately following its release, the top-grossing film ever made (the data presented here for all films released up to 1973 is sullied by the fact that The Exorcist and 1939′s Gone with the Wind have both had theatrical re-issues since then). For its part, Box Office Mojo currently ranks both films in the all-time top ten, once figures are adjusted for inflation, with Star Wars at #2 and The Exorcist at #9 (and thus ahead of all the Star Wars sequels and prequels).

Each film in its own way raised interesting questions about the place of spirituality in an increasingly mechanized world. Alas, when it came to follow-up films, their fortunes were very different. The Exorcist has now had two sequels and two prequels (and even one of the sequels had flashback material that is kind of prequel-ish), and all of them were disappointments, for one reason or another. Whereas Star Wars has had two sequels and three prequels and has been more successful commercially and even, I would argue, artistically; at the very least, there has been greater consistency. Although there is also something to be said for the “noble failure” of at least some of the Exorcist movies.

FWIW, while preparing to review last summer’s prequel, I made some comments about the differences between the Exorcist novel and film here, some comments about Exorcist II: The Heretic here, and some comments about The Exorcist III here.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10639067379293929509 Ken Collins

    Now that it is almost over, there is now a new website thanking George Lucas for 28 years of Star Wars to present 1,000,000 signatures and stories to him later this summer. Look at http://www.thankyougoerge.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05089439510877671134 Rae

    I’m surprised you didn’t think much of Exorcist III. I could watch that movie over and over again, while the original Exorcist wore out my interest after just two viewings. The original was kind of claustrophobic – Regan’s bedroom and the hallway leading up to it were terrifying places, but the rest of the world seemed relatively safe. In Exorcist III, nothing and no-one is safe. It’s got the unforgettable images, too — the crucified boy, the old lady spider-walking on the ceiling, the first glimpse of the priest from the first movie. My very favorite part though is the conversation between George C. Scott and Ed Flanders after the boy’s crucifixion. Scott talks about how rotten the world is and how much evil there is, Flanders says God will make everything right, Scott asks when, Flanders says at the end of time, and Scott, with perfect timing and a gleam in his eye, says, ” That soon, eh?”


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