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Max von Sydow

Max von Sydow (born 10 April 1929) is a Swedish French actor, born in Sweden and with French citizenship since 2002. He has starred in many films and had supporting roles in dozens more. He has performed in films filmed in many languages, including Swedish, Norwegian, English, Italian, German, Danish, French and Spanish. Von Sydow received the Royal Foundation of Sweden’s Cultural Award in 1954, the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres in 2005 and the Légion d’honneur in 2010.

Some of his most memorable film roles include knight Antonius Block in Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (the first of his eleven films with Bergman, and the film that includes the iconic scene in which he plays chess with Death), Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told, Karl Oskar in The Emigrants, Joubert the assassin in Three Days of the Condor, Ming the Merciless in the 1980 version of Flash Gordon, King Osric in Conan the Barbarian, the villain Blofeld in Never Say Never Again, Frederick in Hannah and Her Sisters, Lassefar in Pelle the Conqueror, for which he received his first Academy Award nomination. In 2012, he was nominated a second time, for his supporting role in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. More recently he was fantastic in Robin Hood and Shutter Island (both 2010); however he is more famously remembered as Father Merrin in The Exorcist (1973). 

Production of The Exorcist began on August 14, 1972 and though it was only supposed to last 85 days, it lasted for 224. The studio wanted Marlon Brando for the role of Father Lankester Merrin. Director William Friedkin immediately vetoed this by stating it would become a “Brando movie.” It is now impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.

The Exorcist was released theatrically in the United States on December 26, 1973. The film earned ten Academy Award nominations, winning two (Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay), and losing Best Picture to The Sting, which although a good film  was clearly the safer bet. It became one of the highest earing movies of all time, grossing over $441 million worldwide.

The film has had a significant influence on popular culture. It was named the scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly and and by viewers AMC in 2006, and was #3 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments. In 2010 the Library of Congress selected the film to be preserved as part of its National Film Registry. 

SYNOPSIS: At an archaeological dig in Northern Iraq, archaeologist Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow) visits a site where a silver Roman Catholic medallion along with a small stone amulet resembling a grimacing, bestial creature are found buried together. Merrin recognises these symbols of the demon Pazuzu, whom he has battled before.

Meanwhile, Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), a young priest at Georgetown University, begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother’s illness. 

While filming near her temporary residence in Georgetown, actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior of her 12-year-old daughter, Regan (Linda Blair). Chris initially believes Regan’s changes are related to puberty, however, doctors suspect a lesion on her temporal lobe. Regan endures a series of unpleasant medical tests. When X-rays show nothing out of the ordinary, a doctor advises that Regan be taken to a psychiatrist, whom she assaults. Paranormal occurrences continue, including a violently shaking bed, strange noises, and unexplained movements.

When all medical explanations are exhausted, doctors recommend an exorcism. In desperation, Chris consults Karras who is both a priest and a psychiatrist. During a period in which Karras observes Regan, she constantly refers to herself as the Devil. Karras initially believes her to be merely suffering from psychosis, until he records her speaking in a strange language which turns out to be English spoken backwards. Despite his doubts, Karras decides to request permission from the Church to conduct an exorcism.

Merrin, an experienced exorcist, is summoned to Georgetown to assist. He and Karras must try to drive the spirit from Regan… full reminiscence HERE

4 responses

  1. One of my favourite actors!

    April 10, 2012 at 9:31 pm

  2. Gary

    We’re spoilt these days! Remember watching copied VHS versions of films that were so grainy you had to have 8 cans of Royal Dutch lager before you could see them clearly! The Exorcist was one such movie. DVDs are great but give me those grainy videos any day!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:42 am

  3. Pingback: Jason Miller « socialpsychol

  4. Pingback: The Exorcist 2: The Heretic * « socialpsychol

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