×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

PopPolitics: William Friedkin on His Return to DC for ‘The Devil and Father Amorth’ (Listen)

WASHINGTON — William Friedkin returned to Washington last week to talk about his latest project — “The Devil and Father Amorth,” a documentary project that explores real-life exorcisms.

In it, Friedkin witnesses and films an exorcism in Italy in 2016, of a young Italian woman named Christina who believed that she was possessed. The experience was different from what was portrayed in Friedkin’s 1973 classic, “The Exorcist,” but he says that it was still very chilling.

“I had to consider whether or not I wanted to show this, but I ultimately felt that I had seen it and people should see it,” Friedkin tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM.

Several years ago, Friedkin was in Italy and met with Father Gabriele Amorth, then regarded as the foremost Catholic authority on exorcisms, and Amorth agreed to let him witness one and to shoot it, on the condition that it only be with a small camera and no lighting.

“I doubt that there’s one percent of people on Earth who have seen an exorcism — a real Roman Catholic exorcism. Most of the priests had never seen it,” Friedkin says.

In the documentary, Friedkin shows his footage to a number of university medical professionals, including psychiatrists, and “they have never seen anything like this, and they all said they wouldn’t know what to do with this woman. They couldn’t operate on her.”

“The Exorcist” featured levitation and head-spinning, and it was a work of fiction. The documentary isn’t as physically dramatic, but Christina’s behavior is unexplained. She goes into a trance-like state, and as Amorth performs a battery of prayers, she starts becoming agitated, and then has to be restrained as her voice changes to a guttural tone. She yells at him as if they are the words of Satan, as several men restrain her.

One of the doctors Friedkin interviewed has been involved in a brain mapping program. He “said that he had no idea what this was, but said that just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” Friedkin says. “That is how I come down on possession and exorcisms. I can’t say that I understand it. There are no experts. Not even in the priesthood, or at the highest levels of the Catholic Church.”

“The Exorcist” was shot in Georgetown in 1972, and the film crew stayed across the Potomac at the Key Bridge Marriott, the same summer that Bob Woodward was “interviewing Deep Throat in the garage,” Friedkin says. George McGovern, then running for president, would come by the home at Prospect and 36th, where scenes were shot, and watched the filming.

In “The Devil and Father Amorth,” Friedkin goes back to some of the locations, including the famous steps that are now a tourist landmark.

“Not much has changed,” Friedkin says of Washington then and now. “It is as politically precipitous today, in a different way, as it was then. Political problems, suspicion of the president of this or that, investigations all over town. Watergate was in the papers every day.”

Listen below:

PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.

 

More Politics

  • Department of Justice

    DOJ: Gray TV-Raycom Media Merger Can Move Forward if Overlapping Stations Are Sold

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has given the go ahead to Gray Television’s $3.6 billion merger with Raycom Media on the condition that stations be sold in nine markets. The DOJ’s Antitrust Division said it had reached a settlement in which Gray would sell stations in the markets where they would otherwise own two or [...]

  • Mick Mulvaney Chief of Staff

    Mick Mulvaney Will Serve as Acting Chief of Staff, Trump Says

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Mick Mulvaney will serve as his acting chief of staff after the departure of John Kelly at the end of the year. Mulvaney is currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Trump has said he was talking to a number of candidates for the position, but [...]

  • Michael Cohen

    Michael Cohen: Trump Knew Hush Money Payments Were Wrong

    WASHINGTON — Michael Cohen claims that Donald Trump knew that hush money payments made to two women in advance of the 2016 election were wrong. Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” for his first interview since being sentenced to three years in prison, Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, said that when payments were being arranged for [...]

  • Trump Jim Acosta CNN White House

    The Gradual Disappearing Act of the White House Daily Press Briefing

    WASHINGTON — The Trump White House has dropped an event that used to be a prized invite for journalists and their families in D.C.: A holiday party for the media. But another tradition has been disappearing from the West Wing agenda as well: the daily press briefing. The regular televised afternoon back and forth between [...]

  • Nexstar Logo

    Nexstar Settles With Justice Department Over Sharing of Ad Information

    WASHINGTON — Nexstar Media Group, which recently announced plans to acquire Tribune Media and become the largest owner of TV stations in the country, has settled with the Justice Department as it investigates broadcasters’ sharing of competitive advertising rate information with rivals. Six other station groups, including Tribune Media, reached a settlement with the DOJ [...]

  • Donald Trump

    National Enquirer Parent Admits to Making Karen McDougal Payments to Help Trump in 2016 Election

    WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors said National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, admitted that it made a $150,000 payment to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal “to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations” about Donald Trump in advance of the 2016 presidential election. AMI’s admission could bolster any case prosecutors make against Trump for violating [...]

  • Ajit Pai

    FCC to Launch Review of Media Ownership Rules, Including Ban on Broadcast Network Mergers

    WASHINGTON — The FCC will review whether to modify or even eliminate a series of media ownership proposals, including a current ban on mergers among the four major broadcast networks. The review, mandated by Congress every four years, includes no specific policy proposals, but will take public comment on whether changes are warranted. The FCC will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content