A Brief History of Possession & Exorcism

A Brief History of Possession & Exorcism

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: Oct 11th, 2010
Certificate: 18
Running Time: 127 minutes

Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb, Jack MacGowran, Kitty Winn, Vasiliki Maliaros, Wallace Rooney, Titos Vandis

What can you say about The Exorcist that hasn’t already been said? Volumes have already been devoted to the theological thriller about a young girl, Regan (Linda Blair) who begins to display signs of demonic possession. As her condition worsens and her behaviour becomes more and more violent, her mother (Ellen Burstyn calls on Father Karras (Jason Miller) for help. Joined by Father Lankester Merrin (Max Von Sydow), a priest with a mysterious past, the battle for Regan’s soul has thrilled and terrified audiences worldwide for nearly 40 years.

With moviegoers running out of theatres, while others suffered nausea and insomnia and some even fainted, now comes the Blu-ray experience to relive it all again but this time remastered in 1080p from the original camera negative and with sound and picture quality like never before. This double pack contains both the remastered Extended Director’s Cut as well as the remastered theatrical version of the film. Containing approximately 12 minutes of additional footage such as Regan’s spiderwalk down the stairs, flashing subliminal images and the Pazuzu looming over Regan’s bedroom door together with enhanced effects, it’s guaranteed to renew interest in real life exorcisms.

Stories in Christianity referring to exorcisms appear in the Gospel of St. Matthew (8:28-33) and tell of Jesus in Gergesenes (on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee) encountering two men possessed with the demon who called itself ‘Legion’. Jesus cast it out and into a herd of pigs who ran toward the edge of a mountain and jumped off. Before the time of Christ, in the Old Testament, David cures Saul from possession by playing a harp (Book of Samuel 16:23).


• The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen
• Commentary by William Friedkin
• Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist
• The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now
• Face of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist
• The Version You’ve Never Seen (Trailer)
• Our Deepest Fear (Trailer)
• Most Electrifying (TV Spot)
• Scariest (TV Spot)
• The Exorcist Returns (Trailer)
• The Devil Himself (Radio Spot)
• Our Deepest Fear (Radio Spot)

Exorcisms though have not been confined to Christianity. Throughout history there have been many stories from almost every religion and culture. The word itself dates back to the ancient Greeks, from ‘exorkizein’, when translated means “to bind by oath”. In the worship of Dionysus, followers could invoke the spirit with wine and sexual ecstasy. In ancient Egypt there were herbal and poisonous remedies to deal with demonic possession. The Mesopotamians for whom physical and psychological ailments were attributed to demonic possession were so greatly afflicted that cases became part of daily life in Babylon. The ancient Hindu text Artharva Veda which dates back 1000 BC contains incantations and rituals to use against demons. In the 6th Century BC, Zoroaster, a religious leader, is reported to have cast out demons using prayer and holy water.

During the middle ages, superstition would give birth to witch trials and allegations of possession. One of the most famous cases involved a group of nuns in Loudon, France. A priest, Father Urbain Grandier, who had been convicted of sorcery visited the nuns and shortly after came the claims that he had bewitched them. They began lifting up their skirts and raving madly at night. Their public exorcisms were witnessed by over 7000 and Father Grandier was burned at the stake for his crimes, but it did not end the possessions.


• The Exorcist
• Commentary by Willa Friedkin
• Commentary by William Peter Blatty
• Fear of God
• Original Ending
• Sketches & Storyboards
• The Original Cut
• Stairway to Heaven
• The Final Reckoning
• Introduction by William Friedkin
• Nobody Expected It
• Beyond Comprehension
• Flash Image
• Beyond Comprehension
• You Too Can See The Exorcist
• Between Science & Superstition
• The Movie You’ve Been Waiting For

By the Age of Enlightenment (18th Century), accounts of possession died down while advancements in science, pyschology, biology and medicine experienced a huge surge. Although with the rise of sexual repression in the early 20th Century, new cases of possessions and exorcisms were springing up around the world. It’s interesting to see how the rise of one thing signals a decrease in the other. The following timeline is by no means complete, but just an overview of possession and exorcism cases throughout recorded history.

5300 BC Mesopotamian possessions
1000 BC India, Artharva Veda incantations
675 BC Greece, worship of Dionysus spreads
6 BC Persia, Zoroaster performs exorcism

1 AD Jesus cures possession in Galilee

1634 France, Loudun Witch Trials
1778 England, exorcism of George Lukins
1842 Germany, exorcism of Gottliebin Dittus
1906 South Africa, exorcism of Clara Germana Cele
1940 America, exorcism of Robbie Mannheim
1974 England, exorcism of Michael Taylor
1975 Germany, exorcism of Anneliese Michel

Leave Your Reply

Required fields are marked *. Your details will never be shared.