Connect with us
Leap of Faith

Film

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist Shows Us How Making Films is an Act of Faith

William Friedkin is a pleasure to listen to in Leap of Faith — a deep dive on The Exorcist and cinematic technique.

Film is a form of faith. We have to believe that what is happening on the screen could be real. Building on this connection, great filmmakers such as Carl Theodor Dreyer and Ingmar Bergman have used it as a tool to communicate with the divine. But why only show acts of beauty and resurrection, like at the end of Ordet? Why not use it to plunge into the darkest of demonic impulses? 

Inspired by these filmmakers, as well as a seminal moment watching Citizen Kane as a teenager, William Friedkin has always been attached to the idea of using the cinema as a kind of Church. And what better example can you find of serious religious inquisition within American cinema than The Exorcist? 

Like Martin Scorsese or Peter Greenaway, William Friedkin is as great at pontificating as he is at directing, a master of articulating ideas of cinematic form and style. He is a pleasure to listen to throughout documentary Leap of Faith, which matches his ideas of filmmaking philosophy with clips from classic films. 

Leap of Faith

It joins Friedkin’s last film, the documentary The Devil and Father Amorth, which basically shot an entire exorcism by an Italian priest, as another victory lap of his classic horror, re-affirming it as possibly Friedkin’s greatest achievement. For fans of The Exorcist, this is essential watching; yet for those who might not be as sold on the demonic horror, there’s plenty of tips useful for any budding filmmaker. 

What’s fascinating is the way the octogenarian director is able to articulate exactly why his own film weaves such an unsettling spell. Subliminal motifs, such as characters walking upstairs, are references to Christ’s own ascension, something he bets you wouldn’t have known unless he pointed it out. Also fascinating is his relationship with camera operator Ricky Bravo — who had previously shot Fidel Castro in the middle of a revolution —  who he implored to use the same type of documentarian approach. This explains just how The Exorcist could feel so realistic yet solemn at the same time, a truly terrifying exploration of what demonic possession could really be like. 

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist

As for his beliefs on whether or not these happenings could really be true? He still claims that he simply doesn’t know. At the same time, the director forensically goes through classic moments of his film that he claims he cannot really explain or understand, underscoring how directing is as much an act of faith as an act of action. After all, the power of cinema lies in the way it can move us without needing to spell everything out.

The director is the only talking head throughout the entirety of Leap of Faith, giving the film the feel of a YouTube Masterclass or a University lecture. There are few remarks on the film’s legacy in the horror canon or the infamous reports of people vomiting during screenings. Instead, Friedkin quietly re-asserts his place as one of the greatest American directors, someone who brought the arthouse stylings of directors such as Dreyer and Bergman to the mainstream without sacrificing his own powerful and unique vision. 

-Redmon Bacon

Written By

As far back as he can remember, Redmond Bacon always wanted to be a film critic. To him, being a film critic was better than being President of the United States

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Facebook

Trending

Vesper poster Vesper poster

Vesper: Sci-Fi That Thinks Big With Limited Means

Culture

Anti-War Anti-War

Three Bestselling Anti-War Novels, Three A-List Film Adaptations…Three Flops:  Castle Keep, Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-Five

Culture

Unforgiven movie review Unforgiven movie review

Unforgiven Ushered the Western into its Afterlife 

Culture

Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies

A Full List Of Upcoming Marvel Studios Film And TV Releases

Culture

Robocop 1987 Robocop 1987

RoboCop is a Social Satire That Gets More Relevant With Age

Film

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues

Comics

Nope Nope

Jordan Peele’s Nope Explained: A Spectacle of “Bad Miracles”

Film

Alex's War (2022) Alex's War (2022)

Alex’s War, a Documentary Study of Alex Jones, Misses the Big Picture 

Film

Signs movie review Signs movie review

M. Night Shyamalan Signs Finds Comfort at the End of the World

Film

All Out 2022 Predictions All Out 2022 Predictions

Way Too Early Predictions for All Out 2022

Wrestling

Biography: WWE Legends’ Look at Goldberg is One of the Best Wrestling Documentaries Ever 

TV

Detective vs Sleuths Detective vs Sleuths

Detective vs. Sleuths: Buckle Up for a Bumpy Ride

Culture

Incredible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin Fan Film Takes The Franchise Into R-Rated Territory

Culture

The Gray Man movie review The Gray Man movie review

Netflix’s The Gray Man is its Most Expensive and Emptiest Star Vehicle

Culture

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987 Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is an Anti-Fascist Classic 

Film

Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con

Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022: A Full Recap

Culture

Connect