Evil against Evil: The Parabolic Structure and Thematics of William Friedkin's The Exorcist
This essay examines and deconstructs three sets of antagonisms in William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973). It argues that the film describes its own narrative conflicts as a thematics of evil against evil, so as to de-ethicize the moral violence of those metaphysical dogmatisms that compete over the souls of others. It then re-couches the one-sidedness of scientific and religious orthodoxies, which damage in similar ways Regan MacNeil, one of the film's main characters, as another variation of this thematics. Finally, this essay suggests that The Exorcist surveys certain sociopolitical tensions, thus commenting, in its video and theatrical re-releases, timelessly on US tensions with its own counterculture and with the Middle East. The film transcends such mutually destructive tensions in its dramatization of sacrifice, though without taking this term in its soteriological sense; sacrifice rather involves the reduction of these thematics to Regan's fleshinvolves reversing their anagogic tendenciesso that this flesh at once re-emerges as the site and the template of the film's narrative contestations.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Kennesaw State University.
Publication date: 01 January 2010
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