For its 100th anniversary, the Warner reissues “The Exorcist”, the unsurpassable summit of modern horror

Regan (Linda Blair) in “The Exorcist” (1973), by William Friedkin.

Warner Bros, one of the Hollywood legend’s depository firms, reached the canonical age of 100 years in the spring, a century of existence celebrated with dignity by a vast plan of re-releases, opening its inexhaustible catalog to the four corners of the rooms. GPs from France. Founded in April 1923 by siblings of Polish Jewish emigrants, the Warner brothers (hence the diminutive “Bros” for “brothers”), having started twenty years earlier with traveling screenings, the studio established itself among the ” Big Five” (the club of the five most important companies, called “majors”) by fully embracing the sound revolution.

Since the history of the studios is often that of production logic and, at best, that of the genius of the system, Warner will long be associated with this wind of modernity. From the 1930s, it was the venue for the Art Deco and kaleidoscopic musical comedies of Busby Berkeley (1895-1976), with the series of gold diggers. At the same time, the house clings to the bitumen of urban realism with the double vein of gangster films (The Public EnemyWilliam A. Wellman, 1931) and the Nervous Black Chronicle (hell is hisRaoul Walsh, 1949; The Maltese FalconJohn Huston, 1941; The Great SleepHoward Hawks, 1946).

In the 1970s, like all major studios, Warner found itself at the height of a crisis that had begun ten years earlier, linked to changing audiences and the dissolution of production in larger broadcasting empires. Crisis to which the studio responds in an exciting way, with a policy of accentuated prototyping, which gives birth to a number of milestone films (Inspector Harryby Don Siegel, MeanStreetsby Martin Scorsese, A dog’s afternoonby Sidney Lumet, Issuance, by John Boorman). Among them, The Exorcistthe sixth feature film by William Friedkin (born in 1935), to be rediscovered in its latest digital restoration, offered the studio the worldwide success of 1974, as well as an unsurpassable pinnacle of modern horror.

Ownership history

Emerging from the success of French Connection (1971), who had just won two Oscars, Friedkin, on the rise in Hollywood, tackles this story of possession, based on the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty (1928-2017) responsible for come up with the script himself, but against whose views the filmmaker will scrap step by step. In the upscale neighborhood of Georgetown, Washington, DC, where old buildings rise, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), a distraught comedian, watches her 13-year-old daughter, Regan (Linda Blair), sink into profound neurological disorders. , giving rise to superhuman trance states. Faced with the irresolution of the doctors and the diabolical outbursts of her offspring, she relies on a priest, Father Karras (Jason Miller), to perform an exorcism on her, which occupies the entire last half hour of the film.

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