Such a great film. I know, I have to talk about it again. I just watched The Exorcist (Director's Cut) last night. I'm only halfway through the book, so it was cool seeing how much of the dialogue translated directly into the film. Most of it did.
Some of my favorite pieces of the movie include when Chris MacNeil wakes up close to five in the morning with a phone call. Ellen Busrtyn did such an amazing job waking up groggily and looking tired (kinda like how John Hurt does at the beginning of Alien). She made me feel sleepy! I digress... There's a scene where she goes into the attic to check the rat traps her housekeeper put out. And as she's up there, Friedkin (the director) has this ten second shot of Regan in her mom's bed just lying there, one eye staring at the camera. Not moving. Not blinking. Creepy.
And the part where Damien Karras (Father Karras, to you) talks to Regan for the first time. The demon inside Regan says, "Your mother's in here with us, Karras..."
To this, Karras says, "If you are the devil, then you'd know my mother's maiden name... What is it?"
Of course, the demon doesn't answer.
Later, when Karras sits down to try and figure out if the Church will approve an exorcism, the drawer on the night table opens by itself. Karras asks, "Did you do that?"
The demon replies, "Uhh-huhh..."
Karras leans over, shuts the drawer slowly, and looks back at Regan. "Do it again."
"No, do it now."
It's just plain great. I love it, because it gives a sense of realism to the weird goings on. You start to think that maybe Regan is just doing it for attention...
Now, on to more important things. Today, in "The Few, The Proud, The 238", we discussed rules vs. cliches.
Cliches can be a lot of things. For instance, phrases such as "everyday life", "this day and age", and "a fit of laughter" are so overused, that when a reader scans over them, their eyes roll so far back into their head that they become stuck.
Now, rules are very different. I've encountered people in the writing world that say, "Don't start the book with a girl in her bedroom; don't start your book with a description of the weather; don't start your book with a prologue, and don't end with an epilogue."
So, naturally, I thought, "Rules, schmules. Imma do it anyway."
Because rules are meant to be broken.
What does this have to do with The Exorcist, you ask? Whell... I shall enlighten you. The Exorcist by William P. Blatty is a brilliant piece of fiction that was loved so intensely, that a film was made about it in the seventies. And it was such a great film with genius cinematography and deep characters, that people STILL talk about how it scared them. Hell, I saw it for the first time a year ago, and the damn movie gives me nightmares.
My point is, The Exorcist was a first draft. Yes, you heard me. The book was published as a draft by Blatty. He recently released a new version which he added scenes and probably cleaned up the one word sentences a bit, but I haven't read it. Why? Because the beauty of the novel is the short, disjointed sentences that give the reader a sense of foreboding. It makes you feel uncomfortable.
See? Who needs rules? Blatty threw the damn rule book out the window just like Dr. House does all the time. And look what came of it!
And so, if you are an aspiring writer and people are giving you this twenty-five pound stack of papers telling you what you can and can't do, punch them. Or, conversely, you can just ignore them. It's your choice. I'll take the nonviolent route and verbally punch them in the face. When they read my book. Because it's gonna be one long prologue, end in an epilogue, and open with a girl dreaming about waking up to a beautiful day.
Because, I can do what I want, that's why!