- Film Festival
As a Penn State graduate with a BA in film and television media studies, I admit that I fancy myself a film expert, especially for a 23 year old. That is, until I start up a conversation about the greatest movies of all time with a fellow (older and wiser) film lover. I am very aware of the types of films that make it on to these sorts of AFI 'best' lists, but I am embarrassed to admit, there are quite a few I haven't seen - movies like The Godfather and Rocky that are considered staples of American cinematic culture. Conversations with other movie buffs often go a lot like this:
"Well, of course you've seen (fill in classic movie title here)."
"Um, no actually..."
"What?! And you call yourself a film buff. Shame on you."
I recently met a woman who revealed to me her utterly ridiculous criteria for what she considers a 'watchable' movie:
1. The film can't be made before the year 1990.
2. The film can't take place before 1990.
3. The film can't be in black and white.
4. The film can't have subtitles.
5. The actors can't have accents.
While I find these narrow standards frightening and laughable all at once, I will confess that I really, really, really need to see a lot more movies before I can legitimately call myself a film buff. And so, in order to better myself and have things to discuss at cocktail parties, I will be using my time interning at PFS for self-growth. Each week, I intend to watch a classic movie that everyone has seen and offer intelligent, witty, and, perhaps, naive commentary. By October, I believe I will be a more well-rounded and respected individual among my coworkers, peers, family, and friends.
SPOILER ALERT! I know I feel like I’m the only one who hasn’t seen these classic films, but I know that’s not the case. For those of you who are like me and need to get caught up on your movie buff homework, be aware that these blog entries will contain some spoilers. I don’t want to be responsible for ruining any great movies for you!
This week, I finally watched The Exorcist in its entirety. I have seen snippets of this movie throughout my life (it's impossible not to) but it's taken me many years to finally sit down and watch it. In elementary school, I remember being really excited to watch it on TV around Halloween and my dad warned me that I'd regret it. As soon as that ugly demon-girl snapped "I'm the Devil!" at the priest, I jumped out of my seat and changed the channel. I wasn't raised with any religion so my school "friends" often told me that I was going to go to Hell because I was never Christened - perhaps another fear that kept me from seeing it for so long. However, I'm more of a risk taker these days, so I went for it!
I am a big fan of ghosts and spirits and demons, although my favorite horror movies are almost always slasher flicks. That may be because it's hard to come by a good ghost story or, in this case, a possession story. When it was released in 1973, audiences were provided with barf bags due to the film's graphic content and horrific special effects. While there are many parts that are totally disgusting and disturbing, from the pea-green vomit to the gross language, I think it's pretty well on par with today's films. Lately, I feel that at least in terms of movies, I've seen it all and can't be shocked by anything. The only scene that REALLY shocked me is the one with the cross. That's all I'll say. You should know what I'm talking about.
What I liked most about the film was the overlap between the church and law enforcement. That may seem like a random theme to pick out but it's what stuck with me. While possessed, Reagan, or rather the demon inside of her, throws one her mother's friends out of a window and down a flight of stairs, killing him. The police believe his death was no accident and that perhaps a group involved with witchcraft is to blame. Father Karaas, who is having a crisis of faith, believes the death to be either a murder or accident, until, he meets Reagan and is eventually convinced that this affliction is no neurological illness or disease, but an actual possession. The inability to believe in the supernatural has always interested me. This film really captured the desperate need we all have for a logical explanation to life's mysteries when it can't always be found.
A person could write a whole thesis on The Exorcist, but, sadly, this is only a blog entry. I have many more films to watch in the coming months and am happily on my way to becoming a better, hipper individual. Join me next week when I watch a movie that you've probably already seen! Hopefully that's something that will make you feel cooler than me.