About the trailer and previews of the motion picture: “The Pope’s Exorcist”
Press release of the International Association of Exorcists
Television, streaming, and social media platforms are announcing the upcoming release in April of “The Pope’s Exorcist”, directed by Australian Julius Avery. The title itself is pretentious. A quick look at the trailer confirms (if proof were needed) not only its splatter-like quality, a true subgenre in the horror category, but also its unreliability on such a sensitive and relevant matter.
The movie revolves around the figure of Don Gabriele Amorth (1925-2016), exorcist of the Diocese of Rome for about thirty years. He is played by New Zealand actor Russell Crowe, known to the general public for his protagonist role in The Gladiator, which won him an Oscar in 2001.
After viewing the trailer, we would like to offer a few remarks in anticipation of watching and evaluating the film in its entirety when it will debut in theaters. Possibly, a more in-depth press release will follow at that time.
Leaving aside what at first appears to be a citation to other films (where the priest ends up being possessed himself), we note that the famous Hollywood actor is not at all reminiscent in appearance, but especially not in manner, of the human and priestly profile of Don Amorth. The production specifies that the movie is loosely based on Don Amorth’s memoirs (An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories). All too loose, we would like to observe.
The production company and the director seem more interested in the glamorous association between the exorcist figure and the well-known gladiator of two decades ago, than in the spirit of service that drives the former in his ministry of consolation.
Furthermore, the Catholic Church is represented by an equally non credible pope figure, played by Italian actor Franco Nero. Finally, the Vatican environments, painted in the traditional range of chiaroscuro shades, provide the film with a “Da Vinci Code” effect, instilling in the audience the usual doubt: who is the real enemy? The devil or the ecclesiastical “power”?
We will conclude these brief considerations with a reference to the so-called “special effects,” an inevitable trait of any film dedicated to the theme of diabolical possession. As it has already been depicted in other movies, everything here gets exasperated through striking physical and verbal manifestations, typical of horror movies.
To present the experience of Don Amorth’s exorcisms in such a grisly manner not only contrasts historical reality, but it distorts and falsifies what is lived and experienced during the exorcism of truly possessed people – a practice that we, Catholic exorcists, perform according to the directives provided by the Church. Moreover, it is offensive to the state of suffering the victims of the devil’s extraordinary actions are subjugated to.
As for the spectator, what can we say?
Depicting exorcism this way causes it to become a spectacle, aimed at arousing strong and unhealthy emotions. The gloomy scenography is filled with sound effects that only provoke anxiety, disquiet and fear in the viewer.
The goal is to instill the conviction that exorcism is an abnormal, monstrous, and frightening phenomenon in which the only protagonist is the devil, whose violent reactions can be faced with great difficulty. This is the exact opposite of what occurs in the context of an exorcism celebrated within the Catholic Church, in obedience to the directives imparted by it.
Quite different is the viewing of “Libera Nos. The Triumph Over Evil,” that has been distributed and sponsored by the International Association of Exorcists. Here is shown what exorcism really looks like in the Catholic Church, painting an authentic portrayal of the figure of the exorcist priest. It also displays exorcism as a highly joyous event, because by experiencing the living presence and action of Christ the Lord and the Communion of Saints, those tormented by the extraordinary action of the devil gradually find liberation and peace.
PS: images taken from the tailer