Thursday, 5 December 2013

Yr2 Week 6 (Tues 19 Nov - Producing and Directing + Adaptation update)

My team for the adaptation project had a quick meet, and ironed out the following details for the coming week:
  • Do a recce at the flat we had chosen as a location.
  • Take care of lighting and lighting tests.
  • Arrange future trials, tests and runthroughs.
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Moving along. in the lecture today, we watched the seminal horror classic, William Friedkin's The Exorcist, a stark and almost realistic look at the possession of a young girl by a demon, and the attempts to cast it out. From the aforementioned aesthetic, often taking on a dimmed, dulled hue, to the groundbreaking effects that still look solid to this day, to the sparingly used by really effective and unnerving score, The Exorcist is a ciompelling watch, though now scary less because of the possession itself, and more because the film treats the whole affair more like a medical drama than supernaturalo horror. Really, if you cut out the opening in Iraq witrh Merrin, the film could play as a story about a girl with a seemingly incurable disorder, and the failed efforts of the medical professionals of the day, to deal with that.

With that done, we took a look into the film's quite hectic production history: based off the novel by William Blatty, which in turn was sort of based on a real case from 1949, the rights were sold to Warner Bros, who at first, let producer Paul Monash takes the reins, but he wanted major changes and was ousted, leaving Blatty to take on the job of bringing it to the screen. He brought on Friedkin, a notorious maverick whom Blatty admired, but made Blatty retool the screenplay to suit his tastes and wants, drifitng away from the novel's heavy theological element.

Once into production, things did not get any better, with Friedkin often putting the actors through actually physical hardships, like refrigerating the set to create the effect of demonic power during the exorcism sequence, or throwing the actresses about on wires. And frankly, inexperienced and out of his element, Blatty had no power to stand up to Friedkin, and this led to budget increases and schedule overruns. And then, once completed and edited, Friedkin then changed the film some more after taking advise from a friend, which upset Blatty, taking out about 15 minutes.

Despite all this, the film was a massive success, coming out during a turbulent time of youth revolt and uprising post Nam and nearing Watergate in the early 70s, which the film's nature and behavior of the young girl seemed to reflect in all its vulgarity and anger.

And so, that closes off today. Not much to say other than The Exorcist was pretty damn good as discussed above, though the possessed girl definitely elicited more laughs than screams, and all of the history perfectly complements the film itself, and it would've been a far bigger shock than anything in the film is it was a far smoother production.

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