After watching The Exorcist and today’s discussion I thought it might be appropriate to post a video I found on youtube about real life exorcisms that take place.
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I was a little freaked out when I first watched the clip and did not realize that exorcisms were really still performed these days. I think that the freakyness and curiosity that is associated with exorcisms and demonic possessions in general is one of the reason that The Exorcist is so popular to begin with. We touched upon it in class a little bit today but I just wanted to bring up the reasons why a person would find a movie scary. There are actually a variety of reasons but one of the main ones for me is that I find some kind of personal connection to the film or the situation/setting is realistic enough for me to suspend my disbelief and really allow myself to become scared. Granted, I did not find this film to be one of the scariest I’ve seen. The most it did was freak me out at some parts, mostly the possession parts but I can see why when it came out it was thought of as something completely new and terrifying and why this film has continued to remain popular so many years after its release.
I feel that exorcism is general is something that is a very touchy topic for people because of its place in religion. This is not something that is thought of as so mythological or fake such as zombies or monsters, but is a real world threat and I feel that is what is so scary about a film like The Exorcist. The clip I posted above shows a woman who believes herself to be possessed, undergoing exorcism to try and remove the demon. It’s almost crazy to watch this woman as they try to exorcise the demon from her. It seems a little ridiculous to someone like myself, who doesn’t really believe in the idea of the devil. But for so many people, this exists as part of their belief systems and I can see why a movie about demonic possession would strike many people as very frightening. I am still uneasy with the idea and may have been more scared by the film had the cinematography and production been a little bit scary, because I think just the idea of it is enough to cause anxiety.
In case anyone is interested there are more clips up on youtube about real-life exorcisms taking place.
Memento is a film about a man, Leonard Shelby with anterograde amnesia which leaves him unable to create new memories. He spends most of the film trying to put together pieces of a puzzle to find his wife’s killer. There are a couple of elements of this film that allow it to be classified as neo-noir. In terms of setting and atmosphere, it is not a classically noir film. However, one of the main elements of the film that allow it to be a neo-noir is the way the story is told and the anxiety that is maintained throughout the film.
Memento is one of my favorite films that we’ve watched in class so far because I felt it truly lived up to the name of the course, Anxiety of Cinema. Throughout the whole film I was trying to guess what was going to happen next, and kept in this constant state of anxiety. Much of this had to do with the way the story was told. It was told in a non-linear narrative, so at first it was confusing and required that you pay attention throughout the whole film. Little by little, we’re given pieces of the puzzle and then finally at the end we see the pieces come together but we’re still left unsure who to trust. I feel this is a classic element of noir films, not knowing which character to trust. At first you empathize with Leonard and assume he’s helpless because of his condition, but the end throws you for a loop when you find out he may have been sabotaging his memory on purpose and that you can’t trust his character either. This only heightens the feeling of anxiety.
Another element of noir in Memento is that appearance of a femme fatale, in this case Natalie. Natalie is one of the constant characters in Leonard’s life, but someone he meets after his accident. So when we meet her and Teddy, we are left wondering if these characters are helping Leonard or if they are playing on Leonard’s condition and trying to use it to their advantage. It turns out that Natalie is the one that is lying to Leonard and using his condition to her advantage. She fits the description of the classic femme fatale.
Memento was one of the most interesting films we’ve watched in class in my opinion because of the heightened sense of anxiety that was created that kept you engrossed in the film. This was done through the mental landscape more than anything else and the way the story was told, through two different narratives. What did everyone else think of the film?