'Exorcist' Director William Friedkin: Lack of Faith Doomed Film's Sequels

Movie goers can judge for themselves what happens when an atheist tackles religious material courtesy of director Darren Aronofsky's Noah.

In the early 1970s, another heralded director mounted a production dealing in faith. William Friedkin didn't shy away from God. In fact, he embraced The Exorcist's spiritual elements and says the film's sequels failed because they lacked a spiritual component behind the scenes.

The director of The French Connection and the 2012 drama Killer Joe told a group of college students earlier this week how his faith left an imprint on the now-classic horror film.

I made that film as a believer,” he said March 26, speaking to students at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television. “The reason that all the sequels to The Exorcist are rotten chunks of excrement [is] because they are made by non-believers. And what they all attempt to do is to defrock the story and to send the thing up.

Friedkin also told the students how star Max von Sydow, an atheist, struggled with a key moment in the film in which his character invokes God. Only when Friedkin asked him to play him as a man, not a vessel of the Lord, did the actor nail the scene.


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