cinema, Film, Film Review, Magazine article, Mr. and Ms Magazine

The Exorcism of Emily Rose – film review

There are times when life seems hopeless. During these times, because we feel badly, we tend to attract bad or negative vibrations. In the world of energy, like attracts like. And so the spiral downwards into living hell starts.

Some people, who are not spiritually strong, can be possessed by other entities. Many people reject the idea of possession because they have neither seen them or experienced them. They have also not seen an atom, an electron or a neutron but they believe these things exist because their teachers told them so. Yet they won’t believe in spirits.

I have personally seen people being possessed. And these people are certainly not insane or crazy. But then, I have also seen spirits and ghosts. And there is nothing in science that says these entities cannot exist. They are merely vibrating in different frequencies.

Films can introduce people to the phenomenon of spiritual possession. The film The Exorcist must have given countless people several nightmares. Personally, I do not give much power to demons or Satan. But in the Western and Westernized world, demons or Satan are given so much power. It is you, the individual, who gives power to somebody or something. And this somebody or something can destroy you if you believe it is powerful enough to do so.

In 2005, an interesting film on possession was released. It is titled The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I wrote a review of it in my magazine column, Quantum Cinema. Here it is:

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Writer/Director Scott Derrickson’s 2005 film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” brings back to mind the blockbuster hit of the ‘70s, The Exorcist. Both films involve the supposed demonic possession of a teenage girl who spoke in a dead language (Aramaic, the native tongue of Jesus Christ) and a duly-authorized exorcism ritual performed by a Catholic priest. But while The Exorcist is a pure horror film, Emily Rose is not. It is a hybrid – part horror and part courtroom drama.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is based on the life of Anneliese Michel of Germany who died in 1976 after a priest performed exorcism rituals to cure her of demonic possession. The priest was charged with manslaughter and brought to trial.

The film is thus not only about Emily’s exorcism but also about the trial of the exorcist (i.e., Father Moore, ably played by British actor Tom Wilkinson). The prosecutor’s is a forgettable role played by debonair Ethan Thomas while the defense lawyer has the meatiest role which was excellently played by Laura Linney. Newcomer Jennifer Carpenter plays the title role poignantly.

The film puts to the fore the never-ending battle in Western literature between Science and Faith. Here, Science is supposed to be on the side of Western Medicine. Faith, on the other hand, is supposed to be on the side of Religious/Spiritual Healing. According to allopathic or Western medicine, Emily had a “psychotic epileptic disorder”, whatever that means, and needed a specific medicine to be cured. According to religious / spiritual diagnosis, Emily was possessed by demons and had to be exorcised. In fact, according to one defense witness, the medicine administered to her aggravated Emily’s condition by locking her in an hallucinatory state, thus preventing her cure by exorcism.

In many instances in the West, parents have been hailed to court for refusing to let doctors administer medicine to their children. When the children die, the parents are indicted for manslaughter. There are religions in the West, like the Christian Science Church, which do not recognize the power of Western medicine. In fact, in the early 1990s, several courts tried Christian Science church members for murder and manslaughter. Parents belonging to this sect refused medical care for their children. The parents were later legally exonerated but the debate on who knows best when it comes to the care of the body remains a hot issue. Is the Church more capable of caring for a sick person? Or is it a state’s responsibility? After all, can the Body be separated from the Soul? But then, the unbelievers would counter – who says there is a soul?

The battle between Science and Faith is fought by its champions — the State and the Church. Who has the right to protect the people – the Church or the State? The victors of the French and American Revolutions made sure that there will always be a separation of the Church and the State, with the State enjoying all the political powers. But history has shown that States have so often failed to conquer the Mind and Spirit.

The so-called Age of Reason brought forth the Industrial Revolution which in turn brought forth the blossoming of two ideological systems – Capitalism and Communism. Both promised the Body’s well-being – one, through the individual’s right to private property and the right to vote and the other, through the State’s right to distribute society’s wealth equitably among the people.

In capitalist societies, religion was booted out of government offices and public school systems. Religion became an optional Sunday activity. In Communist societies, religion was condemned as being “an opium of the masses”. Secularism reigned supreme. For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the States took care of the Body and the Mind, but not the Soul or Spirit.

But in late 20th century, the Spirit revolted. Communism fell and the old religions in these countries became reinvigorated. Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc. found worldwide resurgence such that war-mongers and hawkish foreign policy advisers now talk of a Clash of Civilizations where the word civilization becomes a euphemism for religion. These people are calling for a new Crusade.

But that is nothing but rightist fundamentalism. The late 20th century has also brought forth fundamentalism’s foil– most call it the New Age movement, a movement in consciousness. New Agers graft the best of the old with the new, the Eastern with the Western, the Northern with the Southern to bring forth the New Holistic Empowered Man/Woman with a unified Body, Mind and Spirit.

New Agers are not content to simply mouth slogans because the great thinkers or leaders said so. And people have realized that nothing or nobody holds a patent to Truth. The Greek Catholics will not go to Hell simply because they do not believe in the Pope. Nor will Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie just because the Iranian ayatollahs said so. There is as much wisdom in allopathic medicine as in homeopathic medicine, or in Western and Eastern pharmacology.

The world’s history has shown the foibles as well as greatness of humanity and it behooves each individual to ponder well upon the lessons of history. This
new movement is not like the organized movements of the past. The New Age is a movement of individuals trying to realize the greatest potential of their Selves, their Environment and their Fellow Creatures on Planet Earth.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose does not tell the viewers categorically who the winner was – Science/State or Faith/Church. The jury’s verdict as pronounced by the judge is quite ingenious – “Guilty but free to go.” But then, the New Age Man/Woman knows that the best protector of the Body and Soul is an Open Mind.

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Published in Mr. & Ms. Magazine: Supermonthly of the Body, Mind and Spirit, November 2005
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The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Genre: Hybrid – Horror / Courtroom Drama
SONY Pictures production
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Written by Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson
Cast:
Laura Linney …. Erin Bruner
Tom Wilkinson …. Father Moore
Campbell Scott …. Ethan Thomas
Jennifer Carpenter …. Emily Rose

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