Devil and Father Amorth: William Friedkin New Docu about Exorcism

Oscar-winning director William Friedkin is in the 2017 Venice Film Fest with his documentary “The Devil and Father Amorth,” focusing ono Father Gabriele Amorth, who performed exorcisms for the Vatican’s Rome Diocese.

Connecting with Father Amorth

I was familiar with his books, four or five of which are translated into English. And I knew that he was kindly disposed towards “The Exorcist” movie, even though he had said the special effects were over the top. He felt that it helped people to understand his work. I had never tried to meet him; I never thought I could. But I was Lucca [Italy] a year or so ago … and someone casually mentioned that Lucca was about a half-hour drive to Pisa … where there was an airport where I could catch a one-hour flight to Rome. Something clicked, and through a friend I was able to write Father Amorth. Two days later he wrote me back, and said he would meet me.

This was my idea, which just popped onto my head. I call it providential. I had an inner voice that said to me, ‘I wonder if I could meet Father Amorth?’

Amorth Fan of the Movie “The Exorcist” 

There is no research: the only research is his books. In the United States in the 20th century there were two reported cases of possession, as far as Mr. Blatty [who wrote the novel “The Exorcist”] and I could tell. There were only two cases that had any substantial writing about them in the United States. Mr. Blatty, before writing his book, did extensive research, but there was nothing to be done. The church doesn’t say a lot about this. They don’t try to publicize it at all. They are not promoting it. I doubt that they will even have a position about my film [this latest one]. They never comment about these things. I doubt that they would have given me permission to do what I did. He gave me permission, and he operated quite independently from church procedure and was openly critical of the Vatican.

Gaining Access to Real Exorcism 

I was shocked. I had no idea that would ever be able to even meet with him. I did know how busy he was. He was doing exorcisms all day every day right up until he went into the hospital and then died, in September 2016.

I think I came along at a time when he wanted people to become aware of this work because he wanted the Vatican to train more exorcists. He believed that I had enough cachet to take his story … that I would be able to bring it to the public by way of a film.

The shoot 

I had to shoot it alone, obviously. The conditions were that I come along with no crew and no lights. So I used a Sony still camera that shot high-definition video. I had only that camera running and I was about two feet away from them, probably even closer.

Witnessing Real Exorcism 

It was terrifying. I went from being afraid of what could happen to feeling a great deal of empathy with this woman’s pain and suffering, which is obvious in the film.

Amorth’s Exorcisms 

The one that I filmed was her ninth, and she was having one a month.

Consulting with Scientists 

I consulted with neurologists, brain surgeons, some of the best in the United States. The brain surgeons had no idea what her affliction was and none of them would recommend an operation. They believe that everything originates in the brain but — and they say this in the film — they have never seen anything quite like these symptoms.

Psychiatrists Opinion?

They all described how psychiatry now recognizes demonic possession. It’s called dissociative identity disorder/demonic possession. And if a patient comes in and says they are possessed by a demon or a devil, they don’t tell them that they are not, they do whatever psychiatric treatment they think is necessary, including medication. And they bring an exorcist in.

Source: Variety