Schrader's Dominion

Tue Dec 13, 2005

During yet another break from grading, I watched the Paul Schrader-directed version of the Exorcist prequel. As you may know, the studio execs thought Schrader’s film so commerically unviable that they hired another director to jazz it up for the release with the screaming and the demonic hyenas, nyeagh. I actually tried watching that version earlier this year and could not.

I found myself curious about Schrader’s Calvinism and his take on the film’s events here, though he didn’t write the script, and, as the indifferent-sounding director’s commentary makes clear, was brought in on the project after John Frankenheimer could not longer work on it. How many films involving the paranormal in some way open with a Nazi-flashback? X-Men is the only other one I can think of right away, though I’m sure there must be others.

If I’m not mistaken, there seems to be a Pazuzu/Lucifer substitution here as well. Demonologically, these have to be considered separate entities, yes, though emulation or adaptation might explain it. A book exploring how supernormal intelligence or limited omniscience is represented in fiction and film has always struck me as potentially useful (know of any?) The original Exorcist, a vastly superior film, has more to work with here; but the suggested ability of the luciferian entity to subcreate the past has interesting consequences as well (cf. The Last Temptation, of course, others?).