Exorcist director William Friedkin documents the end of an era in The Devil and Father Amorth.
“Have you ever heard of exorcism? It’s a stylized ritual in which rabbis or priests try to drive out the so-called invading spirit,” says Dr. Barringer in William Friedkin’s film The Exorcist. “It’s pretty much discarded these days, except by the Catholics who keep it in the closet as a sort of embarrassment.” Friedkin’s upcoming documentary The Devil and Father Amorth unveils the workings behind the last exorcism rites performed by a legendary practitioner, the Vatican’s Father Gabriele Amorth, if that’s not too vulgar a display of power.
The documentary explores an exorcism Amorth performed in 2016. Friedkin, “a legendary raconteur, leads a tour that moves from the infamous Exorcist steps in Georgetown to Italy, where he meets with the 91-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, official exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, and accompanies Amorth on one of his harrowing house calls,” reads the official synopsis. “A sprightly, at times gonzo-style investigation into the long history of demonic lore, and a one-of-a-kind insight into the persistence of medieval belief in the supposedly modern world. “
Friedkin won an Academy Award in 1971 for directing The French Connection, and was nominated for an Oscar for directing the 1973 adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s bestselling novel The Exorcist. The book was based on a true story of a boy known as Roland Doe who was reportedly possessed by the devil in St. Louis in 1949. Friedkin met with Amorth because he had never witnessed an exorcism before making the movie and wanted to know how close he’d come to capturing it realistically. In The Devil And Father Amorth, it comes out he needn’t have worried. It was the priest’s favorite movie. He apparently comes across much less solemn than Max von Sydow’s Father Merrin. Father Amorth died in September 2016.
In the film, Friedkin mentions that 500,000 out every 60 million Italians in Italy have undergone exorcisms. The biggest increase in exorcisms happened after the death of Amorth in 2016, who once argued that the devil had got into the Vatican.
There are two ways someone can be possessed. The first is through temptation. The second is through obsession, according to Amorth. The last demonic repossession Amorth performed was the possessed woman Rosa’s ninth exorcism. It is almost a franchise now and the Vatican added new exorcism training courses, according to Newsweek. Sicilian priest and trained exorcist Benigno Palilla told Vatican Radio it was the fault of “fortune tellers and tarot cards,” which he said “open the door to the devil and to possession.”
“In Western Tradition we are now approaching what is known as the ‘End of Days,’” says occult expert Marie Bargas, a psychic prognosticator who happens to read tarot cards. “But the yogis and yoginis know it as the Kali Yuga. It does not surprise me that the demons have come out to play in force. This is foretold as their time. It’s the season and the more powerful ones have booked a nice run for themselves.”
Amoth also reportedly admitted there are a few cases when an enemy takes possession of a person.
The Orchard will release The Devil And Father Amorth in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on April 20th.